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CALL. 30.09.2018: [Session 3] Decline and Fall: Narratives of Empire. Panel at NeMLA - Oxon Hill (


This panel addresses three areas concerning the decline of the Roman Empire: first, the changing views on the causes and nature of the decline of the Roman Empire; second, the influence of these changing views on the study of a national literature either as a whole or with regard to single authors and periods; finally, the relationship between new horizons and understanding about the Roman Empire and our grasp of other empires--British, Spanish, French, US, etc.



LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center (Oxon Hill, MD, USA)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Claire Sommers ; Richard Schumaker. NeMLA (Northeast Modern Language Association). George Town University. University at Buffalo.

INFO: Web - ;


In her 2015 book SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, Mary Beard addresses the need for new approaches to the history of Rome:

The history of ancient Rome has changed dramatically over the past fifty years, and even more so over the almost 250 years since Edward Gibbon wrote The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, his idiosyncratic historical experiment that began the modern study of Roman history in an English-speaking world. That is partly because of the new ways of looking at the old evidence, and the different questions we choose to put to it. It is a dangerous myth that we are better historians than our predecessors. We are not. But we come to Roman history with different priorities—from gender identity to food supply—that make the ancient past speak to us in a new idiom (15-16).

This panel will consider the literature of fallen or falling empires in the light of the “different priorities” of which Beard speaks.

Possible topics include:

· The need for revision of histories of ancient civilizations and/or empires (Mesopotamia, Indus Valley, Greece, Rome, Byzantium)

· Critiques of these histories from the standpoint of race, class, gender

· Comparisons between competing accounts of empires

· Comparisons between the histories, declines, falls, of ancient and of modern empires

· Narratives of empire as nation-building tools

· Definitions of the literature of falling empires as a genre

Please submit proposals of approximately 250 words to the NeMLA portal. Question about this panel may be send to either Claire Sommers ( or Richard Schumaker (

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