Intermixti spiritus oris. The interface between rhetoric and poetry in Late Antiquity

Conference at the Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde, Ghent, 12-13 June 2009

The period between the reigns of Diocletian and Honorius was an important watershed both in the political and cultural evolution of the Roman Empire. In many ways this was a very dynamic period, full of creativity and vigour. One cultural domain that remained very vital indeed is the study of rhetoric, as is evidenced by the amount of theoretical reflection, and practical precepts, that has survived from the fourth century and its preceding and succeeding decades. The aim of this conference is to examine in what ways this major force within the literary field can help us to enhance our understanding of the literary and more specifically, the poetical production of this long century. Quite a bit of poetry was written but, some notable exceptions like Ausonius, Prudentius, Gregory Nazianzen or Claudian left aside, for the most part it remains a rarely studied, little understood and enigmatic body of work. We feel that the exploration of the poetical production of this period is often hampered by a priori conceptions that are seldom questioned, and by the fact that it is frequently studied exclusively as a part of social or religious history, using frameworks imported from other disciplines. Such approaches bring about various methodological difficulties. The aim of the conference is to investigate whether the interface between rhetoric and literary production might not prove to be a more promising and fruitful strategy. This approach, however, calls for reflection upon the function of rhetoric within the cultural field and the nature of its relation to literature and poetry. The main objective of this conference is to explore in depth this particular area.

This conference is organized by the Department of Latin and Greek of Ghent University, and is hosted by the Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en letterkunde, in Ghent. Its purpose is to bring together both invited specialists and younger researchers in order to approach the central theme of the conference from different angles. By using the format of a round-table conference, we hope to encourage mutual discussion. The call for papers can be downloaded here. 

This conference is supported by

the Koninklijke Academie voor

Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde