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Amy Richlin’s Challenge: Erasing/Tracing Roman Women’s Participation in Religious Life

Fanny Dolansky

Brock University

This presenter is a young specialist in Roman social history deeply influenced by Richlin’s work, especially by her audacia in bringing topics such as obscenity in Roman invective or rape narratives to the center of academic discussions. In her work on Roman women and religion, Richlin searches for information from largely ignored sources such as Festus’ dictionary and Italian inscriptions outside Rome, fruitfully combining them with comparative material from other disciplines. This methodology has inspired the speaker in her work on Roman social history, particularly when looking at domestic ritual. Here, like Richlin, she interrogates a variety of sources to find instances of women’s agency, collaboration, and community. The available record described by Richlin as “tattered lacework” in Arguments with Silence (204) can be helpful, she argues, once one accepts the need to investigate both the fabric and the holes. In an examination of women’s participation in religious life, the speaker demonstrates the value of Richlin’s methodology when researching women’s participation in religious life. She suggests that Richlin’s critique of treating Roman women as a homogenous group is fundamental, while at the same time insisting on the importance of recognizing the diversity attested by historical sources. She challenges us to try to understand how juridical status, class, and gender worked together and sometimes even against one another.

Session/Panel Title

Feminist Scholarship in the Classics: Amy Richlin's Arguments with Silence: Writing the History of Roman Women (2014), (Workshop)

Session/Paper Number


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