CONF: Praise and the Construction of Character in Late Antiquity, 10-11 May 2013

Seen on the Classicists list:


A conference to be held at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, 10–11 May 2013

Imperial panegyrics, funeral speeches, liturgical hymns, saints’ lives: the act of praise was deeply woven into the literary and cultural fabric of late Antiquity. As these examples suggest, such acts belonged to a wide range of social situations and types of text, and participated in a variety of cultural discourses. Every act, however, was closely concerned with the construction of character, the creation of ‘image’: the object of praise (male or female, living or dead, human or divine) was formed no less than mirrored by the praise itself.

The aim of this conference is to explore the praise-literature of late Antiquity with particular emphasis on character-construction and image-creation. Questions which we seek to address include the following: To what extent is the character of the laudandus shaped by rhetorical traditions? How much is owed to representations of character in earlier texts and to ancient ideas of character? How important are exempla (positive and negative) in the construction of character, and how far is the object of praise him-/herself constructed so as to be exemplary? How significant are generic considerations? To what extent are specific images the product of precise historical circumstances? What kinds of function are served by textually constructed images, and how might such images impact on the behaviour of the laudandus or of readers? How important are the relationships between praise-giver, praised, and audience/readership in the construction of image? How far do praise-givers use eulogistic situations for purposes of self-promotion and self-fashioning?

Confirmed speakers:
Christopher Kelly (University of Cambridge) (keynote lecture)
Virginia Burrus (Drew University)
Marco Formisano (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Bruce Gibson (University of Liverpool)
David Scourfield (NUI Maynooth)
Michael Trapp (King’s College London)
Lieve van Hoof (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)
Catherine Ware (NUI Maynooth/University of Liverpool)
Michael Williams (NUI Maynooth)

For further information, contact the organizers:
david.scourfield AT
catherine.ware AT
michael.williams AT

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