Rhetoric and Religious Identity in Late Antiquity

Rhetoric and Religious Identity in Late Antiquity
When: April 23-25, 2015
Where: University of Exeter

From the conference website:

The topic of religious identity in late antiquity is highly contentious, with significant debate revolving around the reasons for shifts in self-identifications, the degree to which any labels (ancient or modern) for religious categories reflect a real sense of unified social identity, and the malleability and potential overlapping of religious identities. Although most scholars agree that identities were constructed and expressed through forms of ‘rhetoric’, a systematic study of rhetoric’s meaning and influence in this context is still required.

The conference aims to develop current research by exploring various forms of construction and negotiation of religious identities (both individual and communal) in late-antique written texts and material culture, focussing on the ‘long fourth century’ (roughly from the Tetrarchy to Theodosius II). In particular, we will emphasise the importance of rhetoric to this question, incorporating both rhetoric as used by late-antique figures themselves and also the rhetoric evident in the later construction and use of markers of religious identity. Not only will we employ a broad conception of the notion of ‘rhetoric’ which includes literary material and the artistic, epigraphic, numismatic and architectural record, but we will also aim at a more conceptually-informed and illuminating understanding of what is meant by ‘rhetoric’ in this context.

Those interested in attending can visit the conference website for more information.