ROMARCH: Call for Papers: APA session on the Historia Augusta

Pasts, Presents, and Futures of the Historia Augusta

Call for papers

A panel proposed for the 2014 APA Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL

Co-Organizers: Mary T. Boatwright (Duke University) and Kathryn Langenfeld (Duke University)

As interest in the later Roman Principate and early Dominate grows and results in ever more historical, literary, cultural, and art historical studies, scholars increasingly turn to the Historia Augusta.  Although notorious for its puzzles and self-contradictions, this is our most extensive historical source reporting information about the second and third centuries CE. Furthermore, its purported Diocletianic/Constantinian date, and the authoritative (though not universally accepted) claim that this collection of imperial biographies was actually written at the end of the fourth century CE, encourages use of the Historia Augusta by those examining the later Roman empire and late antique Rome.  But the complexity of this source means it cannot simply be mined for data convenient for any particular argument, albeit presented with caveats.  More importantly, our deepening understanding of the rich culture and history of the second through fourth centuries CE enables new and beneficial inquiry into all aspects of the Historia Augusta.

We solicit papers examining historiographical and historical issues in the HA. The work’s recurrent citation of earlier Latin and Greek historians prompts historiographical questions, such as: How does this purportedly multi-authored, perhaps anonymous collection dialogue with the stress on authorial authority found in earlier historical writings? How does the work’s literary method or content relate to that of 4th-c. authors (e.g. Ammianus Marcellinus, Jerome, Aurelius Victor, and Festus)? How do the HA’s numerous “verbatim” quotations of emperors, laws, or private letters (e.g., Hadr. 23.13-14; Avid. Cass. 1.7-2.8; Tac.18-19) compare with the documentary practices of Eusebius or the Christian apologists, for example? But the HA’s content and data also repay investigation in light of our growing information about the later Roman Empire. Has new research vindicated the HA’s portrayal of the Roman economy, or its topographical information about imperial building projects in and out of Rome? How does the HA present Roman bureaucracy? Questions suitable for this panel, which aims to treat the HA both as literature and as a historical source, are not limited to those above.

Abstracts of no more than 650 words for a paper suitable for a 15-20 minute presentation should be sent as an email attachment (PDF) to:  Please follow the formatting guidelines for individual abstracts that appear on the APA website.

All abstracts will be judged anonymously. Please do not identify yourself in any way in the abstract itself.  All proposals must be received by *March 1, 2013*. Please note that abstracts accepted will then be submitted to the APA Program Committee for acceptance into the APA program. You may address any questions to the panel organizers at or

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