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CALL. 31.08.2019: IV RHETOR Conference. Rhetoric and forensic speeches - João Pessoa (Brazil)




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Federal University of Paraíba (João Pessoa, Brazil)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Marco Valério Classe Colonnelli (UFPB); Priscilla Gontijo Leite (UFPB); Robson Lucena Carneiro (UFPB); Túlio Carvalho de Sousa (UFPB).

INFO: web -


Since 2013 RHETOR organises a biannual conference which aims at strengthening the academic dialogue with Brazilian and international specialists in rhetoric. The conference helps to publish the researches carried out by members of RHETOR, and it makes connections and partnerships among researchers possible.

The Conferences held in 2013, 2015 and 2017 took place at the University of Brasília (UnB), and counted with the participation of specialists in ancient Greek law and in Attic oratory such as Michael Gagarin (University of Texas, USA), Michael Edwards (RHUL, UK) and Christos Kremmydas (RHUL, UK) and Maria Cecília de Miranda Nogueira Coelho (UFMG, BR). In 2019 the Conference will take place at the Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB) on the 13th and 14th of November. The topic is ‘Rhetoric and forensic speeches’.

The forensic speeches amount to discursive practices that can be approached within the studies of rhetoric. Ancient manuals of rhetoric classify the dikanikos logos (the court speech – also named forensic speech), as one of the genres of speeches, along with the sumbouleutikos (deliberative) and the epideiktikos (epideictic) logoi. According to Aristotle (Rh. 1359b), the court speech is useful for accusing or defending someone; the deliberative one, for counselling people on politic matters; and the epideictic one is used for praise or censure. Obviously, forensic speeches were used much before the manuals started describing them, and they were inherent to the development of some Greek poleis. In democratic Athens, for instance, rhetoric grew in the context of isonomia (equality of rights), isegoria (equal access to speaking in public forums) and parresia (freedom of speech), stimulating a culture of free speech which could transform the citizen into an orator due to the everyday challenges of speaking in public – either in the court and assembly, or in festivals and embassies.

The study of forensic speeches from the classical period allows us to know the legal practices of the ancients and how law was applied; the social organisation; the family relationships; the religious and cultural habits; and naturally, the rhetorical practices of those ancient societies. Therefore, such speeches are important sources for our understanding of the ancient world. However, they are not yet a very attractive topic of research in Brazilian universities, as one can conclude from the few translations of the Attic orators in Brazil. This means that such an opportunity is very much welcome for those Brazilian researchers interested in the topic.

By analysing the rhetorical practices of the Ancient world and how they are related to the political and legal spheres, we can reflect about our own democracies, about how we act within them and how persuasion plays an important role in their functioning.

This two-day conference aims to bring together researchers of ancient rhetoric and oratory working primarily on forensic speeches. Papers that relate forensic oratory to ancient theories of rhetoric, family relationships, and religion are particularly encouraged. We invite abstracts of max. 250 words for papers of 20 minutes.

Submission deadline: 31 August 2019.

We look forward to seeing you at IV RHETOR Conference in sunny João Pessoa!

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