Shifting Frontiers XIV: Scale and the Study of Late Antiquity

3-5 June 2021, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

This event will take place virtually via Zoom.

For the Fourteenth Meeting of the Society for Late Antiquity, we invite papers that investigate scale, which can be defined as a graduated range of values or measurements, whether, for example, of time, space, social organization, cosmology, or agency. Participants are encouraged to explore scale either as a methodological framework used by modern historians to interpret the past and/or as a type of late Roman analytic category, developed and employed by late ancient persons for their own heuristic purposes. Questions papers might ask include: To what extent does the world of Late Antiquity look different if we approach its events, institutions, and processes (whether political, economic, social, or religious) from a micro scale rather than a macro scale, and vice versa? How can we better understand the late Roman Empire through the examination of macro- and micro-scalar environmental phenomena, such as volcanic eruptions and mutating plague DNA, which were only partially (if at all) perceptible to the late Romans themselves? Alternatively, what graduated categories of measurement and values did late ancient thinkers deploy in their philosophical, scientific (including astrological), and religious works to make sense of metaphysical, ethical, or even physical quandaries? And what did scale mean to individuals on an everyday level, for agriculturalists or merchants whose livelihoods were embedded within multi-scalar economic, environmental, legal, social, and religious networks? Other papers might consider the fractal replication of structures and relationships across the Empire, for example in conciliar operations (Senate, local curia, church councils), patterns of deference across the social scale, or in the provincial extensions of imperial authority. Comparativists are encouraged to consider how problems of scale inflect transhistorical arguments that encompass both late antiquity and other periods of history.

Featured Keynote Speakers

C. Michael Chin, Department of Classics, UC Davis
Ann Marie Yasin, Department of Art History and Classics, University of Southern California

Special Directions for Virtual Format

The program committee recognizes that online conferencing opens opportunities for scholarly presentations and discussions that deviate from the traditional model of “present a paper and then take questions.” The past few months have been a time of experimentation for all of us. Rather than define (and thereby limit) those alternative modes in advance, we encourage you to propose them to us, and so our task will be to decide not only which papers will be included, but which formats too. Options include thematically linked papers that are posted before the conference so that attendees can read them before their authors hold a panel discussion at the conference; or scholars who wish to pre-post textual, visual, video, or audio material and then take only five minutes to present their argument, leaving more time for discussion. Each submission will still need to have a regular abstract, but please indicate whether you would like to experiment with an alternative mode of presentation.

To apply to present at Shifting Frontiers XIV, please fill out the application/abstract form . Please provide all the requested information, but do not include your name anywhere on the form.  All completed application/abstract forms should be emailed to Applications must be received by 4 December 2020 in order to be considered for participation at the conference.

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