The Performance of Roman Comedy

Applications are now open for a National Endowment for the Humanities Institute for Higher Education Faculty on “The Performance of Roman Comedy,” co-directed by T. H. M. Gellar-Goad and Christopher B. Polt.  The Institute takes place July 9–August 4, 2023, on the campus of Boston College.  Application deadline is 11:59pm Eastern on March 3, 2023.  For more information, to see eligibility criteria, and to apply, visit: https://romancomedy.wfu.edu/

Roman comedy is one of the primary and oldest forms of theater that ancient Romans produced and watched. Nevertheless, all that survives of Roman comedy are its scripts, mere dialogue with no blocking or stage directions. This fact has often resulted in the genre’s being treated as purely textual or entirely ignored in classroom settings. The past few decades, however, have seen the publication of an abundance of scholarship that focuses on the performative nature and performance contexts of Roman comedy. We are now in a position to bring these texts to life, to promote the teaching of them at the college level and beyond, and, in doing so, to illuminate why and how they are so significant for understanding the meaning, comic and dramatic traditions, and cultures of both the ancient world and our own.

Over the course of four weeks this summer, and under the instruction of visiting experts representing three generations of scholarly excellence and a wide variety of research specialties, participants in this Institute will study ancient evidence for and modern experiments in the performance of these plays; the social, historical, and literary contexts of the plays; and their continuing significance and influence. Participants will put their instruction to use by staging and filming scenes from Roman comedy in multiple styles, as well as developing pedagogical modules to apply and share what they have learned from the Institute. Participants in the Institute will come away with an expert handle on cutting-edge scholarship on Roman comedy, with extensive hands-on experience in bringing Roman comedy to life, and with profound effects on their own scholarship and teaching.

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