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Call for papers: Emotion and Persuasion in Classical Antiquity

London 27-28 June 2013

This colloquium addresses the variety of ways in which emotions are used in strategies of persuasion within and between societies, groups and individuals in the ancient world, considering different strata of society, and diverse media of communication. Persuasion may be effected, for example, by narrative, explicit exhortation, or covert manipulation through the judicious use of certain words and phrases. Emotional strategies can be aimed at superiors, inferiors or one’s equals; to strangers or friends; and attempted for personal gain or the public good. They can appear in oral communications designed to be heard briefly – i.e. forensic, deliberative, epideictic, hortatory or supplicatory oratory – their representations in literature, or in written communications that can be read again and again (philosophical treatises, other literary works, letters, inscriptions).

In recent years scholarship on emotive persuasion techniques has focused primarily on explicit exhortation to feel a small group of emotions (anger, hatred, envy, gratitude, pity) in Attic forensic oratory, rhetorical techniques as propounded by philosophers (Aristotle, pseudo-Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian), and theatrical techniques such as dress, gesture or vocal techniques. The last of these is outside the scope of this colloquium, and we aim to move discussion well beyond the former two.

We invite abstracts on any aspect of emotion(s) used to persuade, in any period of ancient Greece or Rome from the earliest written texts through to Late Antiquity. In literature this will include rhetorical treatises (mainly in their relation to other forms of literature), actual speeches (from Classical Athens through Rome to the ‘Second Sophistic’ and early Christian sermons), representations of actual or fictional speeches in other genres (epic, drama, historiography etc.), and other forms of literature whose purpose may be deemed partly to persuade (e.g. philosophical treatises, consolations, satires, epodes, Pauline letters). In non-literary media it will include texts preserved in inscriptions or on papyri such as imperial rescripts from and petitions to emperors, private letters, and prayers or curses addressed to gods. Supplementary questions, especially in non-literary media, will be to consider whether women’s voices differ from men’s (or from male representations of female voices), and to what extent the ‘common man’ (and woman) makes use, or not, of literary techniques developed by higher-status educated men.  Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent to Ed Sanders and Matthew Johncock by 23 December 2012.

Confirmed speakers include: Professors Chris Carey (UCL), Angelos Chaniotis (Princeton), Eleanor Dickey (Exeter) and Catherine Steel (Glasgow)

The colloquium will take place at Royal Holloway’s central London buildings at 11 Bedford Square/2 Gower Street, London WC1B 3RF. It is generously supported by the Institute of Classical Studies and the Centre for Oratory and Rhetoric (COR) at Royal Holloway.

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