CFP: An End to Unity? East and West in the Fourth Century

Seen on the Classicists list:

The fourth century was a pivotal age in the history of the Roman Empire, an
age of transition: New residencies of imperial power emerged in both West
and East, with Constantinople as upcoming principal court and stage for
imperial triumphs and celebrations. The attitude of the emperors towards
Christianity changed from proscription to prescription, though religious
belief and practice – Christian as well as traditional – were still diverse.
Rome‟s ever-growing status as the Christian city culminated in its claim for
primacy over other sees in the early 380s. The political division between
East and West after the death of Theodosius I, in 395, would, in retrospect,
be a definitive end to administrative unity.
The concepts of concordia and discordia pervade late-antique textual and
visual as well as material sources. Romans developed and exploited these
notions with fairly different (geo-)political, religious, geographical and
social ambitions in mind: some strove for unity within the empire, others
pursued unity within Christianity. There were advocates for unity among
„real‟ Romans opposed to threatening „barbarians‟ and agents for (a
cultural) unity within the senatorial aristocracy. And there were those who
rejected these initiatives for uniformity and opted for separation: the
split of the empire in 395 was final, but it was certainly not the first
division. Besides occasional geographical separate entities, the Latin
speaking West and the Greek oriented East had been polarized in intellectual
and theological matters. From a religious perspective, Christian and
traditional groups rejected or extricated themselves from the binding
Christian doctrine, some going underground as „heretics‟, others as monks
dwelling in isolated places. At the same time, traditional cults still
persisted or revived, of which Mithraism is but one example.
In all cases, people used the concepts of unity and discord in constructing
their identity. As a result, the Roman Empire in late antiquity was – maybe
more than other periods in its history – characterised by its many
identities and different groups trying to control the empire.
This conference seeks to explore the degree of unity and discord between
East and West in the fourth century from different angles. Therefore we
invite scholars of all fields working on Late Antiquity to present their
views on the topic. Our hope is that this meeting will prompt a dynamic
interchange among scholars with a focus on ancient history, literature,
archaeology, architecture, religion, law and philosophy, (but also on)
cultural memory and identity building. Comparisons of political, social or
cultural phenomena in the Eastern and Western part of the Empire are as much
appreciated as papers which discuss fourth century views on unity (or
separation). With this conference, we hope to deepen our understanding of
the complexities of unity and discord in the late Roman empire.

* Practicalities

Organisation: drs. Roald Dijkstra and drs. Sanne van Poppel, Radboud
University Nijmegen
Location: Radboud University Nijmegen (the Netherlands)
Date: 24-26 October 2012

Papers are accepted in English, German or French (30 minutes length).

Abstract (500 words) should be sent in before 1 May 2012 to unity@ AT
15 May at the latest, you will be informed about your admission to the
conference. For further questions, please mail to the address mentioned

The conference opens with a keynote lectureby prof. dr. David Potter
(University of Michigan) on the 24th, followed by a reception, for both of
which everyone is cordially invited. There will be an optional dinner
afterwards (on own expenses). Confirmed speakers are offered hotel
accommodation for two nights (24 & 25 October) and conference meals
(breakfast, lunch and refreshments; dinner on the 25th). Given our
restricted budget, we kindly ask participants to declare travel expenses at
their own institution.

* Confirmed speakers:
Dr. Jan Willem Drijvers (University of Groningen) – tba
Prof. dr. Christian Gnilka em. (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster) –
“Die Reichsidee des Prudentius”
Prof. dr. Mark Humphries (Swansea University) – "The Centre and the
Centrifuge: Imperial Unity and Civil War in the Fourth Century"
Prof. dr. Hervé Inglebert (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense) –
"Concordia, Romania et Ecclesia catholica : les discours de l’unité romaine
au IVe siècle"
Prof. dr. David Potter (University of Michigan) – "Can we measure the might
of Rome?"
Dr. Alexander Skinner (Cardiff University) – “Aristocrats and Imperial
Service: Observations on an East-West Contrast”
Prof. dr. Paul Stephenson (Radboud University Nijmegen) – tba

* Chairs:
prof. dr. Sible de Blaauw (Radboud University Nijmegen)
prof. dr. Bas ter Haar Romeny (Leiden University)
dr. Daniëlle Slootjes (Radboud University Nijmegen)

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