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“Placing history before the eyes: enargeia and ekphrasis from ancient historiography to contemporary historical representations”


Can we transmit visions of the past? Contrary to the modern conception of scientific history, ancient historiography was supposed to reflect the past in such a vivid way that the reader could visualise it, feel impressions, so that she/he could memorise it and learn lessons from it. Such an effect, called enargeia, was also considered as a rhetorical technique, thought to arouse emotions and to help to orient the vision of the audience, and was consequently practiced in rhetorical exercises; this property brought ancient history close to literature, fiction and persuasion. But a similar visual dimension is also present in wide-spread and popular modern forms (novels, comics, documentaries) and uses (public speeches, museography) of history. This interesting parallel between ancient and modern practice can be used to investigate the effects (on the audience) of various forms of historical representation and their links with argumentation and persuasion thanks to the ancient concepts and tools and through an interdisciplinary approach. The first challenge of this research project, which I will conduct under the supervision of Ruth Webb (University of Lille, France), will be to study the practice of enargeia in ancient historiography (especially during the periods when enargeia was a part of rhetorical instruction), in order to identify its uses and functions and how it brings about persuasion. The next challenge will be to find modern uses of enargeia and to conceive pedagogical tools to unveil this dimension through practice and to develop a critical eye on the various ways of representing history.

Call for proposal

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Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-ST - Standard EF


42 Rue Paul Duez
59800 Lille
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 196 707,84