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2013 Events

ROMAN ERROR: The Reception of Ancient Rome as a Flawed Model

A Conference at the University of Michigan | September 20-21, 2013

The idea of large-scale Roman missteps -- whether imperial domination, sexual immorality, political corruption, greed, religious intolerance, cultural insensitivity, or the like -- has been a notion "good to think with" since antiquity, and persists in familiar comparisons between the Roman Empire and the present-day United States. This conference seeks to go beyond a merely thematic discussion to re-examine the connections between "Roman error," broadly conceived, and basic features of the reception of antiquity including: misunderstanding and misprision, repetition and difference, the subject's relation to a (remembered or unconscious) past, performance and illusion, and links between text and image. If the Romans "erred," what are the consequences for Rome's inheritors as they attempt to construct a stable relation to Rome as a flawed "source" or model? We ask not simply, "Are Rome's errors ours?" but, "How does Roman error figure in the reception of Rome itself?"

FRIDAY, September 20th
2:00 | Welcome
Error and Empire
2:15 | Phiroze Vasunia (University of Reading), "The Roman Empire and the Error of Civilization"
3:00 | Margaret Malamud (New Mexico State University), "Worse than Cato? How to Think about Slavery"

Error and the Body Politic
4:00 | Michèle Lowrie (University of Chicago), "Civil War and the Republic to Come in Victor Hugo's Quatrevingt-treize"
4:45 | Joy Connolly (New York University), "Past Sovereignty: Roman Freedom in Modernity"

SATURDAY, September 21st
Error and Affect
9:00 | Marc Bizer (University of Texas at Austin), "Romans into (Elite) Frenchmen: Michel de Montaigne's Revision of Cicero on the Politics of Friendship"
9:45 | Craig Williams (Brooklyn College, CUNY), "False Friends: Moments in the Reception of amicitia"

Error and Assessment
10:45 | Caroline Vout (University of Cambridge), "The Error of Roman Aesthetics"
11:30 | Serafina Cuomo (Birkbeck, University of London) , "Measurement, Error, and Accuracy in the Roman World"

Error, Religion, and Philosophy
2:00 | Marco Formisano (Ghent University), "Roman Errors and Religion: Symmachus and Lorenzo Valla"
2:45 | Richard Fletcher (The Ohio State University), "The Kristevan Slip: Narcissus, Eros, and Other Errors in Roman Philosophy"

Error, Narrative, and Film
3:45 | Catherine Edwards (Birkbeck, University of London), "The Romance of Roman Error: Encounters with Antiquity in Hawthorne's The Marble Faun"
4:30 | Maria Wyke (University College, London), "The Pleasures and Punishments of Roman Excess: Elagabalus at the Court of Early Cinema"