From public performances on the Roman stage, private orations at opulent dinner parties, and pantomimes enthralling crowds on street corners, the ancient world was saturated with theatrical spectacle. This was the performative reality into which Christianity was born, grew and spread. The likes of Tertullian, Clement, Arnobius and Tatian all offered early criticism of such popular entertainments, some rejecting them outright. Whilst some vocal early Christians clearly felt attendance at (or even indifference towards) these events to be a display of sinful vice, figures such as Paul and James described the Christian life as a public spectacle, while Clement and Tertullian borrowed theatrical language to illustrate their Christological understanding. Either way, these growing communities not only engaged with but thought with this ubiquitous element of ancient culture.
While the relationship between Christians and the Roman arena has been widely evaluated – particularly because of the connections between such public entertainments and early Christian martyr narratives – the relationship between Christians and the theatre remains understudied. This conference therefore invites papers on all aspects of the intersection between Christians and the stage in the Graeco-Roman world. From the parodying of dramatic dialogues in apologetic literature to the role of Christians within the physical space of the Roman theatre, this conference seeks to explore the rich intersection between the early church and ancient performance.
We are delighted to announce Prof. Helen Bond (University of Edinburgh) and Prof. Simon Goldhill (University of Cambridge) as the two keynote speakers of the conference.
Abstracts of up to 250 words for a 25 minute paper should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 17.00 on 1st July 2023. We particularly welcome submissions that engage the conference theme across interdisciplinary boundaries, from postgraduate students, and from members of communities traditionally under-represented in academia.