Hybrid Epicenters: Peripheral Adaptation in Flavian Literature
With a response by Antony Augoustakis
Adaptation and change in Imperial Rome tend to aggregate on the margins and at the edges of things, in extremis as it were. In Flavian literature, various dynamic changes have been observed, in the textual space as well as in the socio-political background under which this literature is being produced. One example is the sudden transition between books 11 and 12 in Statius’ Thebaid wherein the fraternas acies of the first 11 books gives way to (attempted) reconciliation. Or from a geographical stance, one example is Scipio Africanus’ rapid rise to power as he pushes Rome’s military might to her future imperial edges in Spain and North Africa in books 16 and 17 of the Punica; from a sociocultural angle, the complex dynamics in the Silvae between Campania and Rome causes difficulties in recognizing which location is central and which peripheral in Statius’ conceptualization of the geography of Roman power in Italy.
The dynamic relationship between centers and peripheries, intertwined with that old dichotomy of self and other, has been a dominant area of study in the field of Flavian literature for quite some time (e.g. Augoustakis 2010, Rimell 2015, Pogorzelski 2016, Fitzgerald and Spentzou 2018, all with qualifications). While yielding critical insight into Roman identity and conceptualizations of power in the Flavian era, this dichotomous view nonetheless maintains the hegemonic, top-down outlook it aims to question. In recent years, a growing number of scholars have focused their attention on the role of peripheral spaces on their own terms (see Bexley 2009 and more recently Bhatt 2018 and Giusti 2018), that is to say as spaces generating their own dynamic forces both in opposition to and in concordance with central spaces. On such an outlook, we begin to see not a dichotomy of two separate spaces, but rather of two intertwined ones: a hybrid. Modern theories concerning hybridity, such as Homi K. Bhabha’s theorizations of “third spaces” or creolization theory, hint at the interpretative possibilities open to those who approach the periphery anew and on its own terms. What happens, in sum, at the edges of things to bring about and mark change?
We propose to gather papers, therefore, which analyze peripheral spaces as areas indicative of change (be it narratival, textual, cultural, or otherwise) in the Flavian epicists and occasional poets. Possible topics to be considered include but are by no means limited to:
- new theoretical approaches to marginal groups such as Orientalism, Postcolonialism, creolization theory, and so forth;
- the power that geographical edges exert on centers of power;
- strategies of narrative condensation and issues of closure at the ends of texts;
- the textual space as marker of the importance of marginalized or otherwise peripheral groups such as captives, women, monsters, and the like.
- the interaction of textual centers and margins with the geographical center and periphery in Flavian visual culture.
We welcome, in a word, any paper that aims to question or otherwise qualify the hierarchical model of center and periphery, emperor and imperial edges, in these texts.
Abstracts and inquiries should be sent to the panel organizers, Angeliki Roumpou (Angeliki.Roumpou1@nottingham.ac.uk) or Clayton Schroer (firstname.lastname@example.org). Submissions will be accepted until March 24th; notification of acceptance will be sent by March 31st, leaving ample time until the individual submission deadline. Please note that all abstracts must be no more than 500 words in length and must also comply with the SCS Guidelines for Authors of Abstracts.
Augoustakis, A. 2010. Motherhood and the Other: Fashioning Female Power in Flavian Epic. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bexley, E. 2009. “Replacing Rome: Geographic and Political Centrality in Lucan’s Pharsalia.” CP 104: 459–75.
Bhatt, S. 2018. “Exiled in Rome: The Writing of Other Spaces in Tacitus’ Annales.” In The Production of Space in Latin Literature, edited by William Fitzgerald and Efrossini Spentzou. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fitzgerald, W. and E. Spentzou (eds). 2018. The Production of Space in Latin Literature. Oxfrod: Oxford University Press.
Giusti, E. 2018. Carthage in Virgil’s Aeneid: Staging the Enemy under Augustus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pogorzelski, R. 2016. “Centers and Peripheries.” In A Companion to the Flavian Age of Imperial Rome, edited by Andrew Zissos, 223–38. Malden, MA: Wiley.
Rimell, V. 2015. The Closure of Space in Roman Poetics: Empire’s Inward Turn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
(Photo: "Handwritten" by A. Birkan, licensed under CC BY 2.0)