Call for Papers: SCS 2019

Call for Papers, Vergilian Society Panel at the January 2019 Meeting of the Society for Classical Studies in San Diego ~ What’s in a Name?: Race, Ethnicity, and Cultural Identity in the Poetry of Vergil

            As the Aeneid approaches its brutal conclusion, Vergil focuses a final time on Juno, whose determination to see the destruction of everything and everyone Trojan culminates in a compromise with Jupiter: she will relent and allow the Trojan strangers to join with the peoples of Italy so long as Latin identity prevails, and Trojan identity ceases to exist (Aen. 12.826-28):

“sit Latium, sint Albani per saecula reges,
sit Romana potens Itala uirtute propago:
occidit, occideritque sinas cum nomine Troia.”

But is the suppression of Trojan identity that she desires, and that he approves, simply a matter of a name-change? And why would, or should, Juno consider this change adequate compensation for her capitulation? How does the change of name also change the people who bear it? And how are we to understand this change—is it one of race, ethnicity, or cultural identity, at least as these conditions would have been understood in the ancient Mediterranean world?

            Identity politics, cultural appropriation, and cultural diversity are familiar topics in contemporary political discourse, but they all have roots in ancient thought. How does Vergil incorporate these concepts into his world-view—or does he? How do they inform his work, and help us to make sense of his poetic vision? Papers on topics that engage with these and related concerns as they are reflected in Virgil’s poetry are invited. Possible areas of focus include, but are not limited to:

  • the relationship between fate and geography in ancient thought
  • the role of religion in cultural identity
  • ancient vs. modern views of ethnicity and race
  • identity and character
  • cultures in conflict
  • the gods as cultural partisans
  • “Orientalism” in Augustan literature and propaganda
  • the interplay of cultural difference and gender
  • individuality vs. group identity
  • “otherness” and sameness
  • readings and misreadings of Vergil in the cultural triumphalism of the 20th and 21st centuries

Abstracts for papers should be submitted electronically as Word documents by January 31, 2018 to Barbara Weiden Boyd (, preferably with the subject heading “abstract_identity_SCS2019”. The abstracts will be judged anonymously and so should not reveal the author’s name, but the email should provide name, abstract title, and affiliation.  Abstracts should be 650 words or fewer and should follow the guidelines for individual abstracts (, except that works cited should be put at the end of the document, not in a separate text box.