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Roman Enslavement and the Concealed Racist Rhetoric of Today’s Beginning Latin Textbooks

Kelly Dugan

University of Georgia

There is power in the concealment of racism. When masked, racism can spread even more rapidly than usual while under the guise of plausible deniability. Concealment comes in multiple forms including euphemisms and dog-whistling. For example, politicians and law enforcement have historically called for communities to be “tough on crime” and increase “law and order” instead of explicitly stating they want to increase the imprisoning and policing of Black and Brown neighborhoods in America (Loubriel, 2017). To study the role of this type of racist concealment in Latin textbooks, I apply a multimodal functional linguistic analysis based on theories of multicultural education and sociolinguistics. I will engage the audience with concrete examples of thinly veiled racism and discrimination from commonly used textbooks in secondary and higher education such as Ecce Romani, Cambridge Latin Course, and Latin for the New Millennium. I will discuss reoccurring themes such as the ubiquitous presence of enslaved people and human traffickers. I will also address the misleading ways textbook authors frame the relationship between ancient and American slavery including the quote “The Romans did not reduce a single race or culture to slavery...” (Minkova & Tunberg, 2008, p. 51). My slides will have sample passages and accompanying images. After presenting my examples, I will offer suggestions for ways forward including how teachers can address these issues today and how future textbooks can be constructed. The goal of this presentation is to introduce the audience, especially high school and college educators, to the concept of concealed racist rhetoric in Classics and spark conversation on how to address it. 

Session/Panel Title

Difficult Topics in the Classroom

Session/Paper Number

68.3

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