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Call for Papers: Lector, quas patieris hic salebras! The Stumbling Texts (and Stumbling Readers) of Late Latin Poetry

Avatar of Philipp Weiss Philipp Weiss - 29. Juni 2021 - Call for papers

International Conference and Workshop
Basel, 30th Sept. – 2nd Oct. 2021

Deadline for 300-word abstract submissions: 15th July 2021

Lector, quas patieris hic salebras! The Stumbling Texts (and Stumbling Readers) of Late Latin Poetry

Many ‘late’ Latin poets like Ausonius and Sidonius Apollinaris are considered second-class. While in recent years much attention has been paid to the theoretical and methodical presuppositions of this and other comparable judgements, hardly a word has emerged from the so judged themselves. This is all the more noteworthy because an author judging his own text was a meaningful and formally varied phenomenon in late antiquity. The two aforementioned poets know, at least according to their paratexts, that they are second-class: our title, for example, we’ve taken from Sidonius’ ninth poem.

As paratextuality further establishes itself as a point of interest in Latin research, it becomes easier to pursue systematically how, by whom and under what conditions the configurations of a work came together and how it is contextualized in something like literary history. A somewhat different focus is the question of parergonality: how and when does a work become a literary oeuvre and what relationship do the different parts have to each other? In as far as such questions circle around reception theory, reading itself and the dynamic of individual interpretations become particularly meaningful. Here it is necessary to consider where and when the reader constitutes a historical, abstract or otherwise describable entity.

(Post-)Structural perspectives afford a specific access to such varied and small-scale works like those of Ausonius and Sidonius—an approach independent of preconceived literary epochs: instead of considering the often unavoidable ‘late antiquity’ of our authors which imbues their biographies and cultural history, we want to turn our gaze to their poetics and to the dimension of literary interpretation. With all this in mind, we send out this call for papers, addressing it especially to doctoral students and early career researchers.

We welcome papers on late antique prose or poetry. Questions to be dealt with may include the following ones:

  • What form, and by extension what terminology, comprises (late) classical paratextuality?
  • What makes a work a parergon or an opus or an opusculum? What are the interpretative consequences of such categorizations?
  • When do collected works become an oeuvre? How do we hermeneutically deal with breaks, inconsistencies, repetitions, etc.?
  • How far does a biographical approach to paratextual poetry bring us—and how disposable is it?
  • What do intertextuality and referentiality mean for later works? Is an absolute reading (that is, without Virgil and Horace readily at hand) not only possible but even practical?
  • How are we to understand the literarily critical content of the paratexts, for instance the topic of modesty? What is the relationship between authorial self-assessment and later literary historiography? Which arguments are used (and by whom) to justify whether or not a work should—and can—be read?

During the conference, we aim for a joint reading and discussion. To this end, every speaker should make a detailed abstract or even the paper itself, along with the relevant original texts, available at least two weeks before the conference so that all attendants have the possibility to prepare. Each program item will be allotted forty-five minutes, with the presentation itself limited to a maximum of twenty of this forty-five minutes.

The language for discussions and presentations will be English. However, precirculated papers may be written also in French, Italian, or German.

Subsidies for travel and accommodation can be granted for people without institutional funding.

Abstracts of ca. 300 words should be sent by July 15th 2021 to and

Dr. phil. Markus Kersten
Universität Basel, Departement Altertumswissenschaften
Petersgraben 51
4051 Basel (Schweiz)

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