The Third Sophistic: New Approaches to Rhetoric in Late Antiquity
Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity. Organized by Paul Kimball, Bilkent University.
It is a well-known paradox of Greco-Roman culture that well after the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the state under Constantine the art of rhetoric successfully maintained its privileged place in the articulation of political, pedagogical, religious, philosophical, and literary power. Late antiquity witnessed a remarkable surge in rhetorical output in both Greek (Libanius, Himerius, Themistius, Julian, Procopius of Gaza, Choricius) and Latin (the Panegyrici Latini, Symmachus, Ausonius, Marius Victorinus). Moreover, under the new establishment the rapprochement between traditional "pagan" rhetoric and Judaeo-Christian modes of expression already evident in Christian apologetic writings of the second and third centuries gained momentum, culminating in the fourth and fifth-century "Golden Age" of Christian rhetoric as represented by the works of Eusebius of Caesarea, the Cappadocian Fathers, and John Chrysostom (in Greek), and Lactantius, Ambrose, and Augustine (in Latin). Before the end of the sixth century the corpus of Hermogenes would achieve canonical status, and in 426 CE Augustine's De Doctrina Christiana fused once and for all Cicero's rhetorical theory with the Christian project of evangelism and exegesis.
In light of the wealth of available source material and its parallels to the much more extensively studied Second Sophistic, European scholarship over the past two decades has increasingly come to identify this period as the "Third Sophistic." While this formulation stresses synchronic linkages at the expense of diachronic perspectives, it is nonetheless worthwhile to examine this phase in the cultural history of the late empire as a unity. The Society for Late Antiquity thus invites proposals for a panel featuring innovative approaches to the study of rhetoric in late antiquity. These might address such issues as the relationship of rhetoric to poetry, philosophy, and historiography; performance and self-presentation; reception and audience; rhetoric, law, and political authority; rhetoric and homiletics; ekphrasis and the rhetorical construction of space. These are only suggestions and proposals which investigate other lines of research are welcome.
Abstracts of papers (ca. 500 words) requiring a maximum of 20 minutes to deliver should be sent via email attachment no later than February 1, 2008 to Paul Kimball (pkimball AT bilkent.edu.tr ), or by surface mail (Dr. Paul Kimball, Program in Cultures, Civilizations & Ideas, Bilkent University, 06800 Bilkent, Ankara, TURKEY). Please follow the instructions for the format of individual abstracts in the APA Program Guide. All submissions will be judged anonymously by two referees.