Seneca as Politician, Philosopher and Author

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Seneca as Politician, Philosopher and Author:

Revisiting the Relationship between the Man, his Writings and his Textual Self-Portrait

Appel à contributions
Date limite : 1er février 2012

 

 


APA - Seattle 2013

Organizers: Jamie Romm, Bard College, and Gareth D. Williams, Columbia University

Seneca's central role in the first decade of Nero's regime presents interpreters with a complex weave of political, literary and philosophical themes, challenges and problems. Scholars have struggled to define Seneca's role at court, portrayed differently by Tacitus, Cassius Dio and the author of the Octavia, and to understand how it connects with his philosophical writings, his tragedies and his prosimetric satire Apocolocyntosis. Complicating their efforts are Seneca's silence about his political career, the difficulty of establishing a date for many of his works, and lingering questions about the authorship of the Apocolocyntosis and of certain tragedies. Seneca's motives and intentions are often hard to discern. It has remained unclear whether he was a philosopher in politics, as Miriam Griffin's 1976 biography characterized him, or a politician who dabbled in philosophy. And even when our focus is on the purely literary claims of Seneca's writings, the life impinges: the facts of Seneca's political career prompt us to ask whether his philosophical prose represents a form of high-minded ideology, or whether his writings cleanse a conscience compromised by high office; and to ask if the tragedies can or should be read as an oblique commentary on the excesses of Imperial times.

The panel organizers welcome papers that explore the multifaceted implications of the issues raised above. Fundamental questions include the following: What new methodologies and strategies of interpretation might be available to advance current inquiry into the relationship between the Senecan life and his writings? To what extent are the traditional scholarly lines drawn between Seneca the philosopher, Seneca the literary artist and Seneca the politician still sustainable? To what extent might his philosophical prose be seen to engage with political life by amassing and managing political capital, albeit under the veneer of high-minded detachment from everyday realities at court? In what ways might interpretation of Seneca's less read works (in particular On favors and Natural questions) advance current appraisals of his career? If Seneca's philosophical/political career is consistent only in the inconsistency of the mixed messages it sends out, might that mixed picture itself be tactically motivated or exploited for advantage? To what extent does the Senecan oeuvre and Seneca's mixed reputation in antiquity reflect an enigmatic elusiveness of characterization that is one route to survival in Neronian Rome? In short, how might renewed, theoretically nuanced reflection on the relationship of the Senecan life to his writings shed different light on old and vexed questions?

Please send your anonymous abstract (of no more than one page in length) for a 20 minute paper as a PDF attachment to the APA office at Cette adresse email est protégée contre les robots des spammeurs, vous devez activer Javascript pour la voir. by February 1, 2012. Be sure to mention the title of the panel and to provide complete contact information and any AV requests in the body of your email. Anonymous abstracts will be reviewed by the panel organizers. Questions may be addressed to the organizers: Jamie Romm ( Cette adresse email est protégée contre les robots des spammeurs, vous devez activer Javascript pour la voir. ) and Gareth Williams ( Cette adresse email est protégée contre les robots des spammeurs, vous devez activer Javascript pour la voir. ).

 

Source : APA

 

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