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‘The Space and Sound of Silence: Embodied Political Communication and the Roman Senatorial Elite’


Silence shouts, as the Romans recognised. Silence and absence are communicative strategies which are deployed and interpreted by actors and audiences according to the participatory expectations of a given field. This project is the first major study of silence and absence as communicative strategies in the Roman World. It focuses on members of the senatorial elite (including the women of senatorial families), who were highly skilful, creative, and influential actors in and interpreters of political culture, and it analyses the significance of their deployment of silence and absence as communicative strategies in the transition from the participatory system of the Republic to the autocracy of the Principate. The method encompasses the survey and analysis of textual material of various genres from the first century BCE – first century CE, with a particular focus on the relationship between the constructions of gender and of authority. This novel project will expand understanding of the performance dynamics of Roman politics and the frequency and significance of silence and absence as strategies within it. The larger issues of agency, participation, freedom, and resistance which the project addresses are pertinent now in light of the rise of the ‘new demagogues’ and the challenges facing contemporary democracies.


Net EU contribution
€ 206 887,68
405 30 Goeteborg

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Södra Sverige Västsverige Västra Götalands län
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
No data