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CALL. 12.01.2019: Paradeigmata: Examples and Precedents across Time (London, England)


The Ancient Greeks used analogical reasoning as a key cognitive and heuristic device: comparisons of new situations with past events or similar circumstances helped foster their understanding of new situations and created expectations about the potential outcome of their decisions. In classical rhetorical theory, Aristotle describes examples as inductive arguments from analogy, central to logical reasoning (Rh. 1357b 28-30); meanwhile, Anaximenes highlights the role of past actions in lending credibility to a certain statement (Rh. Al. 1429a 22-28). Speakers could indeed resort to past events and historical figures to urge or discourage a course of action, to give post factum justification to certain choices, to comfort an addressee (non tibi hoc soli), or to emphasize the uniqueness of a given situation.

The conference will include talks by Prof. Emmanuelle Danblon (L'Université Libre de Bruxelles), Dr. Jon Hesk (University of St. Andrews), Dr. Kathryn Tempest (University of Roehampton).



LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Senate House (London, England)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: William Coles (RHUL); Giulia Maltagliati (RHUL); Matthew John Mordue (Roehampton); Katy Mortimer (RHUL); Dimitrios Xerikos (Roehampton).



This conference aims to investigate the uses of paradeigmata comparatively and diachronically from the Ancient Greeks to the present day, exploring a variety of genres and contexts. Among the questions that will be addressed are the following: does the approach to mythological and historical material vary across time? To what extent do the various argumentative tasks performed by historical examples depend on contextual constraints? Does the literary genre influence the choice and the function of the example? How does the usage of persuasive examples change from Classical Greece to the modern day? How does the notion of legal precedent fit in?

Previous scholarship has explored the use of historical and mythical examples in epic (Wilcock 1964, Grethlein 2006), tragedy (Nicolai 2012), and oratory (Nouhaud 1982, van der Blom 2010). However, there is still scope for investigating the persuasive functions of examples and precedents: bringing together scholars from different fields, we aim to test the flexibility and continuing importance of paradeigmata, so to understand what is that makes them such a lasting and recurrent argumentative device.

Potential topics include:

- The use of persuasive examples in classical and post-classical literature: epic, lyric, drama, historiography; oratory (forensic, deliberative, epideictic) and rhetoric.

- The use of examples for didactic purposes; the moral value of examples.

- The sources of examples (history, myth, fables, literature).

- The narrative dimension of examples: omissions, manipulations, and fictitious narratives.

- Legal precedents and the use of persuasive precedents in Common and Civil Law.

- Uses of examples in religious discourse.

We warmly invite postgraduate students, early career researchers, and established academics to submit abstracts.

Those wishing to present a paper of 20 minutes should submit an abstract of 300 words outlining the subject of their discussion by 12th January 2019 to Please include your name, affiliation, and a brief biography of no more than 50 words in your email. An earlier expression of interest will also be welcome.

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