Reviews of

Configuring Communities: The Socio-Political Dimensions of Ancient Epistolography

In Durham, Epistolography, Lutz DOERING, New Testament, SEMINAR REPORTS on June 24, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Durham University

Department of Classics & Ancient History and Department of Theology & Religion

14-16 July 2011

The interdisciplinary conference “Configuring Communities” (Durham University, 14-16 July 2011) will investigate the complex socio-political dimensions of ancient epistolography, i.e. the ways in which the formal aspects of the genre interlock with processes of group formation and identity construction. The “communal” aspects of epistolary communication play themselves out in a variety of ways, e.g. with communities writing to individuals, individuals writing to communities, or communities writing to one another etc. These phenomena give rise to a range of heuristic interests: (1) the identity politics of character-drawing and selfpresentation; (2) corporate authorship and collective addressees; (3) functional equivalences – personal appearance, oral messenger, sending a letter; (4) community and confidentiality; (5) letters as means of communicating with geographically dispersed addressees; and (6) ancient epistolary theory. This set of questions will be addressed from a comparative perspective, covered by case studies from across the Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East.

For registration, please contact Dr. Lutz Doering (, Department of Theology and Religion, or Prof. Paola Ceccarelli (, Department of Classics & Ancient History.

For more information regarding the Letters and communities project, of which this conference is part, please consult the project’s webpage.

Conference Programme

Thursday 14 July 2011

Introduction: Theoretical Approaches (Chair: Ingo Gildenhard)

14.15 – 15.00 h:   Thorsten Fögen (Durham University):

“Ancient epistolary theory and the configuration of communities through letters”

15.00 – 15.30 h:  Tea / coffee break

Letters and Literary Communities (Chair: Ingo Gildenhard)

15.30 – 16.15 h:   Roy Gibson (University of Manchester):

“Ancient letter collections as constituted communities”

16.15 – 17.00 h:   Catharine Edwards (Birkbeck, University of London):

“Present absence in Seneca’s Letters”

17.00 – 18.00 h:   b r e a k

18.00 h:                 Dinner

Friday 15 July 2011

Configurations of Power and Epistolary Communication (1): Persia and Greece

(Chair: Thorsten Fögen)

9.30 – 10.15 h:      Sebastian Grätz (Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität Mainz):

“The literary and ideological character of the letters in Ezra 4-7”

10.15 – 10.45 h:   Tea / coffee break

10.45 – 11.30 h:   Manuela Mari (Università di Cassino):

“Power in dialogue. The letters and diagrammata of Macedonian authorities to local communities”

11.30 – 12.15 h:   Paola Ceccarelli (Durham University):

“Letters and decrees. Diplomatic protocols in the Hellenistic period”

12.15 – 14.30 h:   Lunch buffet

Configurations of Power and Epistolary Communication (2): Rome and Judaea

(Chair: Paola Ceccarelli)

14.30 – 15.15 h:   Robin Osborne (University of Cambridge):

“Letters, diplomacy, and the Roman conquest of Greece”

15.15 – 16.00 h:   Ingo Gildenhard (Durham University):

“A Republic in Letters: Cicero’s correspondence with exiled familiares

16.00 – 16.30 h:   Tea / coffee break

16.30 – 17.15 h:   Philip Alexander (University of Manchester):

“‘From me, Jerusalem, the Holy City, to you Alexandria in Egypt, my Sister ….’ (b.Sanh. 107b): The Role of Letters in Power Relations between ‘Centre’ and ‘Periphery’ in Judaism in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods”

17.15 – 18.00 h:   Lutz Doering (Durham University):

“Configuring addressee communities in ancient Jewish letters”

19.00 h:                Conference Dinner

Saturday 16 July 2011

Letters and Communities in Early Christianity (Chair: Lutz Doering)

9.00 – 9.45 h:        Peter Head (University of Cambridge):

“Letter carriers and epistolary communication in early Christianity”

9.45 – 10.30 h:      John Barclay (Durham University):

“The letters of Paul and the construction of early Christian networks”

10.30 – 11.00 h:   Tea / coffee break

11.00 – 11.45 h:   Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena):

“The configuration of the addressee community in the Letter of James”

11.45 – 12.30 h:   Judith Lieu (University of Cambridge):

“Letters and the construction of a Christian narrative”

12.30 – 13.00 h:   Concluding discussion

13.00 h:                Lunch buffet


Paola Ceccarelli
Lutz Doering
Thorsten Fögen
Ingo Gildenhard

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