The Role of “Performance” in Late Antiquity

The Role of “Performance” in Late Antiquity
Organizer: Ralph Mathisen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity

The 2014 panel sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity at the annual meeting of the American Philological Association, to be held in Jan. 2-5 in Chicago, will be devoted to the topic of “performance” in all of its manifestations: administrative, bureaucratic, political, social, and religious. Late Antiquity was a world of ceremony, ritual, and performance. Performative rituals greased the wheels of interaction between patrons and clients, bishops and laity, officials and populace, and emperors and subjects. Manifestations of performance cropped up everywhere, in mime and pantomime, in circus factions, in religious liturgy, in the audience halls of the rich and powerful. Symbolic actions were manifested in verbal cues and gestures that were understood only by other participants in the performance. Different forms of expression had to be decoded in order to be understood. Meaning often lay beneath the surface. Things were not always as they seemed. Wheels moved within wheels. This panel will look at different kinds of manifestations of “performance” in Late Antiquity, and consider why the concept of performance was so well suited to Late Antiquity as a uniquely defined period of history.


We invite the submission of abstracts offering new approaches to the many-sided issue of the role of “performance”, broadly writ, in Late Antiquity. One-page abstracts (ca. 400 words) for papers requiring a maximum of 20 minutes to deliver should be sent no later than March 1, 2013 by email attachment as .doc or .rtf files to Ralph Mathisen at or All submissions will be judged anonymously by two referees. Those whose papers are accepted must be members of the APA for 2013 and must attend the 2014 meeting in Chicago. For further information, please contact Ralph Mathisen, History, Classics, and Medieval Studies, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, at the email address above.


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