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CfP: “Law in Late Antiquity: Imperial Ideologies, Communication, Religion” (14th Celtic Conference in Classical Studies)

Coimbra (Portugal)
Event: 14th Celtic Conference in Classical Studies
Categories: Classical Studies, History
Event Date: 2023-07-14 Abstract Due: 2023-02-20

Organisers: Carla Setién (University of Bamberg) and Álex Corona (University of Valladolid)

One of the main themes of the ever-growing interest in Late Antiquity (broadly c. 250-700 CE) lies in the imperial legislation and political thought. The vast compilations of the legal texts, materialized in juristic corpora like the Codex Theodosianus or Justinian’s Corpus Iuris Civilis, offer an ample, though frequently bewildering, portraiture of late antique law. In this regard, modern scholarship has paid special attention to these sources, pondering the textual similarities and resonant links between legal/administrative sources and extra-legal texts, mainly religious literature. This approach to legal texts was decidedly supported by some scholars such as Prof. Álvaro d’Ors, who argued that the main focus of historical research should be on texts and not so much on facts (verba, non facta).

As part of the «Law in Late Antiquity: Imperial Ideologies, Communication, and Religion» panel session at the 14th Celtic Conference in Classics (11th-14th July, 2023; Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal, this call for papers aims to discuss a wide range of questions on Roman Law and legal sources in Late Antiquity based on three main areas of research, with some suggested topics:

1. Imperial Ideologies:
- Conceptual history (Begriffsgeschichte, as formulated by Reinhart Koselleck) focuses on historical semantics and argues about the need to investigate historical concepts within the context of the social and political discourses of a certain period. This approach might be of interest in order to analyse concepts such as auctoritas, imperium or potestas during Late Antiquity.
- Imperial power and jurists.
- The emperor as legislator and judge: decreta and rescripta.
- Social politics in relation to political changes: civic rights, (mis)treatment of religious groups/leaders.
- Perceptions of early law and ideologies in later periods.

2. Communication:
- Legal sources and their connection to the changing imperial structures and the creation of new institutions.
- Political discourses in legal texts: analysis of literary representations of law.
- Textual interactions and rhetorical connections between Roman law and late
antique Christian literature.
- Literary strategies and communication techniques for political legitimacy.
- Bilingualism of the legal texts. 

3. Religion:
- Religious and political authority: law as a decisive element in the construction of a highly ecclesiastical state.
- Religious change in the transition from traditional pagan discourses and cults to Christian discourses.
- Christian perspectives on Roman law: political theology.
- The bishop as judge: the episcopalis audientia in the imperial legislation.
- Religious tolerance and intolerance from a legal perspective.

We aim to foster dialogue and discussion across fields and disciplines. Therefore, we especially encourage submissions with an emphasis on interdisciplinary/comparative approaches (merging legal history with, e.g., philology, philosophy, history, political science, literature, archaeology, anthropology). In-person presentations are preferred, but remote presentation of individual papers will be possible, ideally for a minority of papers.

The deadline for proposals is February 20, 2023. Please send a title, an abstract (no longer than 300 words), and a short bio to carla.setien@uni-bamberg.de or alex.corona@uva.es. Authors will be notified of the acceptance/rejection of the abstract submitted by March 1.



Alex Corona