Literary Interactions under Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian: Volume 1
Editors: Alice König and Christopher Whitton
This (provisionally titled) volume aims to build on the work of two international conferences held in St Andrews in June 2013 and in Rostock in June 2014, under the aegis of the on-going Literary Interactions under Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian research project.
It will bring different authors of the period (Pliny, Martial, Tacitus, Frontinus, Juvenal, Suetonius, Plutarch et al.) into dialogue with each other, with a view to enhancing our understanding both of individual texts and of the literary culture in which they were produced. The last few decades have seen some exciting scholarship in this field, but the trend has been for author-specific studies, leaving the connections and interactions between texts under-explored. Yet the authors themselves worked in dialogue with each other; they attended recitals, commented on drafts, referenced each other in their writings, and defined their own styles and agenda alongside or against those of other writers. Beyond that, many of them engaged with each other personally, socially and politically, and were not only influenced by but even helped to shape many of the social, cultural and political developments of the age through their interactions with each other. In exploring the variety of relationships between a broad spectrum of texts and authors (historians and biographers, satirists and epigrammatists, epistolographers and philosophers, orators and educationalists, military and administrative writers) this volume will not only shed new light on the dynamics of literary production and consumption under Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian; it will also examine the interface between literary, social, cultural and political spheres of activity, and in so doing will contribute both to the wider history of this fascinating period and to the study of literature in Roman society more broadly. This period currently lacks the kind of study which brings political, social, cultural and literary strands together; compare, for instance, Boyle & Dominik’s Flavian Rome, and Nauta et al. Flavian Poetry. The current project aims to address that gap; but we also have much more specific agenda, focused around intertextuality and the sociology of literary production in the period.
Commissioned contributors have been invited to explore a whole spectrum of interactions between different authors and texts, from salutation, citation, echo and allusion to reworking, correcting, omission and exclusion. In so doing, they have been encouraged to address in particular the following areas of emphasis:
- Methodologies of intertextual reading. How far are practices of allusion, citation, echoing, reworking etc. consistent among the texts under consideration, and how far do they vary between authors and genres? What metaphors of intertextuality best describe the interactions we can see taking place (recalling, borrowing, plundering, rewriting)? What ways can we find to talk about gaps in dialogue (forgetting, omission, occlusion, erasure)? Do close lexical overlaps work as allusions in very different ways from more diffuse clusters or ‘clouds’ of allusion? Where in relation to ‘intertextuality’ might we place ‘interdiscursivity’ or synchronic but seemingly independent convergences between treatments of topics, or indirect triangulation between networks of authors and texts? How can we account for the ‘elements in the ether’ (‘extratextuality’) – the shared tropes/memes/schemata floating between texts in the oral culture of the period? What audiences do we envisage for the reception of these various forms of literary interaction? What criteria do we (and did they) apply when it comes to assessing the ‘meaningfulness’ of different interactions? How do the interactions we see taking place under Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian compare with the intertextual dynamics of other periods? For many scholars Augustan poetry provides the methodological paradigms; how well do these map onto, how far are they challenged by, an age in which prose is more centre-stage, in which the intertextual dialogue is (arguably) less systemic, and in which Greco-Latin interactions play a larger role?
- The interface between literary and less-/non-literary spheres of activity. What relationships can we trace between ‘literary’ and less-‘literary’/non-‘literary’ texts (e.g. edicts, private and imperial letters, the writings of jurists?) How far can traditional models of intertextuality illuminate interactions among this wider corpus? And what can interactions between ‘literary’ and ‘documentary’ texts tell us about the boundaries between the two, in their consumption as well as production? Can the study of literary interactions expand the dialogue between the literary and historical study of the period? How far can literary, social and personal interactions be disentangled? Was elite social interaction always inevitably vaguely literary – or vice versa? How can prosopography and social history help frame, and be informed by, our understanding of intertextuality? Can methodologies of intertextuality help us unpick the dynamics of cultural interaction and exchange in the period? Do we over-emphasise the role of literary activity in the political sphere, or did literary exchanges play as significant a part in politics as in social and cultural life? How does a focus on interactivity specifically (as opposed to isolated textual responses to political trends) develop our understanding of the relationship between literary and political life?
Throughout the production process, contributors will be sharing drafts to facilitate as much scholarly interaction as possible. The result (hopefully) will be a balanced and interlocking set of chapters that will make a significant contribution both individually and collectively to the study of literature and literary culture in the period.
The volume will be fully peer-reviewed.