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Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance (CAMP)

SCS 2024, Chicago, IL

“Centering the Margins: Thinking Anew with the Drama of the Ancient Mediterranean”

Christopher Bungard and Suzi Elnaggar, co-organizers

One enduring legacy of the colonial history of the field of Classics is that Latin and Greek authors from all over the Mediterranean get whitewashed into a vague sense of 19th and 20th century Europeanness, while other ethnic communities from the ancient Mediterranean (especially those comprised of people of color) are completely ignored. As a result, scholars of the ancient Mediterranean may unintentionally overlook crucial aspects of an ancient author’s lived experiences as a cultural outsider which influence their creative output. For example, the authors of the fabulae palliatae are notably non-Romans (Umbrian, Oscan, Greek, African). Scholars like Richlin (2017) and Sciarrino (2011) have highlighted ways that these cultural outsiders sought to navigate the politics of the middle Republic, sometimes challenging the conceptions that Roman elites had of themselves. James (1998a, 1998b) has written about the ways that the African playwright Terence explicitly questions again and again the harmful impacts of Roman masculinity.

This tendency towards whitewashing the study of ancient performance has also led to scholars discounting wide swaths of performance history which falls outside contemporary notions of whiteness or western-ness. For example, the Triumph of Horus is a well-documented ritual performance text from ancient Egypt, and yet is seldom included in the discussion of early performance (Hedges 2022). Konstan (2020) discusses how Classics as a field has expanded both spatially and temporally to include the “sophisticated societies at [the Greek and Romans’] periphery” such as those in North Africa and Southwest Asia.

This panel seeks to pull together scholars of ancient theatre and its reception to explore the ways that marginalized playwrights’ voices (both those from the Ancient Mediterranean and subsequent playwrights adapting ancient material) engage with, challenge, and reimagine social realities. Papers may also think about how performance practices themselves can be deployed in service of these goals. The inclusion of multimedia elements is especially encouraged. Topics could include:

Performances/texts from people of color or the marginalized from Greece or Rome

Performances/texts from the ancient Mediterranean outside of Greece or Rome (Ex. Triumph of Horus)

How contemporary performance of Classical dramas can center those on the margins

How marginalized people in the modern day challenge hegemonic notions through performance rooted in Classical texts

Recreations of ancient performances from the ancient Mediterranean

Abstracts (500 words or fewer) for 20-minute papers should be submitted as .doc files or within the body of an email (for ease of anonymizing), by March 31, 2023 to Krishni Burns ( The abstracts should not reveal the author’s name, but the email should provide name, abstract title, and affiliation. Abstracts should also follow the guidelines for individual abstracts ( decisions will be communicated to prospective speakers in April, leaving sufficient time for those whose abstracts are not chosen to participate in the SCS’s individual abstract submission process.

Works Cited

Hedges, A. (2022). “Staging ‘Lamentations’ and ‘Triumph’: New Methods of Understanding Two Ancient Egyptian Dramatic Texts.” Journal of Performance, Religion, and Spirituality 4(1). 39-61.

James, S. 1998a. Gender and Genre in Roman Comedy and Elegy. Texas Tech University.

James, S. 1998b. “From Boys to Men: Rape and Developing Masculinity in Terence’s Hecyra and Eunuchus.” Helios 25: 31-47

Konstan, D. كونستان, د “.2020. Mapping Diversity in Classical Studies—معالم التنوع في الكلاسيكيات.” Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics 40: 9–27.

Richlin, A. 2017. Slave Theater in the Roman Republic. Cambridge

Sciarrino, E. 2011. Cato the Censor and the Beginnings of Latin Prose: From Poetic Translation to Elite Transcription. Ohio State University.