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Department of Classical Studies pres.

Space and Flows in Roman Literature: Towards a Heuristics of Living under Empire

Osman Umurhan

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Description: Recent archaeological work on globalization in the Roman era has demonstrated how Mediterranean communities, or localities, grow increasingly interconnected and interdependent as network activity accelerates with the circulation of goods, peoples, and cultural practices. Empire’s territorial expansion during the Roman Imperial era (1st – 2nd centuries CE) facilitated such movement(s), but also had a deep impact on various authors of that era, like Tacitus, Martial, and Juvenal, who frame their narratives of empire and political and cultural change in comparable materialist terms. This talk explores how notions of globalization, network activity, movement, mapping, and the theoretical concept of the rhizome constitute a cognitive toolkit from which to assess and reconcile the literary reflections of space (territorial, cultural) and flows (of people and ideas) expressed by these same authors.

Bio: Osman Umurhan is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of New Mexico (PhD Classics, New York University, 2008). Umurhan’s research interests and areas of publication include Roman verse satire, globalization, mobility, empire, and musical, cinematic, and mathematical receptions of antiquity. Following the 2018 publication of his monograph Juvenal’s Global Awareness: Circulation, Connectivity, and Empire, his forthcoming co-edited volume Classical Antiquity in Heavy Metal Music is due out in early October. His current project explores applications of the spatial turn and the social sciences on Roman formulations of space and place and across Roman literary genres.
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