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School of History

HIST0895 - The Politics of Knowledge in the Roman Republic

Module code: HIST0895

Credits: 15
Semester: Spring

Module Convenor: Valentina Arena

The course will investigate the creative mutual relation between the structuring of knowledge and the forms of power in the late Roman Republic. The world of knowledge is never neutral or objective, but rather, enacted in all institutions of social encounters, it also functions as one of the engines for historical change. Through the study of works labelled as antiquarian, which, amongst other subjects, dealt with the rules and regulations of Roman political institutions and their religious framework, this course will focus on the elaboration of knowledge not only in constitutional and religious matters, but also in fields as varied as, for example, topography, language, and customs. These authors, who, like Varro and Cicero, were also main actors of the political and military scene of the time, elaborated a system of knowledge that, cast in terms of continuity with the past, was innovative and directly connected to their course of political actions. Contrary to the assumption that the antiquarians operated in a detached world of scholarly endeavours, these 'guardians of knowledge' were not only restorers, but also, and most of all, innovators of the world around them. This course will explore the profoundly innovative, politically engaged and culturally radical ways in which these writers engaged with contemporary political concerns and acted as the first Roman constitutionalists.

Assessment: Essay (4,000 words) 100%

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