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thersites. Journal for Transcultural Presences and Diachronic Identities from Antiquity to Date

Call for abstracts:

thersites #6/2017

Special Issue: Advertising Antiquity

Advertising AntiquityThe journal thersites. Journal for transcultural presences and diachronic identities to date is planning a special issue, edited by Filippo Carlà-Uhink (University of Exeter), Marta García Morcillo (University of Roehampton) and Christine Walde (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz) on the topic of “Advertising Antiquity”, and is looking for potential contributors to the issue.

We are looking for contributions that cover:

  • the existence of forms of “advertisement” in Classical Antiquity, as well as those that study this from a transdisciplinary perspective through models and concepts developed in social and economic studies
  • the role of Classical Antiquity in modern advertising, as a repertoire of symbols and values, and as a shared cultural reference that can be easily recognized by the public

While studies in the field of Classical Receptions have flourished in recent years, in particular regarding the visual and performing arts, advertising has until now been substantially neglected, owing to its (elitist) exclusion from many definitions of “art” or “culture”. We, on the other hand, are convinced that advertising – through its very aim to appeal to a broad public – is a highly relevant indicator of the presence, significance and symbolic value of Classical Antiquity in popular culture, and thus worthy of much greater attention. Ancient themes and figures are in fact regularly present in modern Western advertising, constituting familiar reference points in which many of the “values” that ads attempt to communicate find a reliable symbol or pictogram that can be immediately recognized by the public – Hercules (for strength) being possibly the most obvious example. Similarly, the high prestige attributed to the Classical world and its knowledge until just a few decades ago is often used in the Western world to confer an immediate credibility to the product or element being advertised.

Antonno e CleopastaAncient forms of advertising have also been substantially neglected in scholarship, eventually studied only by scholars of ancient economy and almost only ever in reference to Rome. Nevertheless, as is the case today, adverts were part of everyday life for the inhabitants of ancient cities, who covered their walls with offers, promises and public announcements of every kind, private and official. The very term “advertising” derives from the Latin adverto or “turn towards”, hence also “draw attention to” – a word that captures the very essence of advertising. This paves the way to multiple potential approaches that link to social and cultural studies, such as the relationship between advertising and identity.

This relationship is, once again, central to studying the presence of Antiquity in modern advertising: should the audience identify with the Ancient Greeks and Romans, recognize them as a part of their cultural heritage, or should they feel different from them? How is such a message constructed, and what pre-knowledge of the Classical world do the ad-creators expect from their targeted audience?

As within our multimedia saturated world, ads were also acknowledged and perceived in different ways in ancient times. They could be read or seen but also heard, appearing in the form of inscriptions, paintings, and announcements read aloud by the kerykes/praecones.

We therefore welcome contributions that, whether they concern Antiquity or the modern world, highlight the multimedia character of advertising and interrogate its multisensorial communication and reception. We particularly encourage contributions that are able to bring together both the aspects mentioned above, for instance through an investigation of how ancient forms of advertising have been represented in Classical Receptions (e.g. the representation of praecones and written announcements in the HBO series Rome).


thersites is an international, peer-reviewed, open access journal – previous issues can be seen at http://www.thersites.uni-mainz.de

Abstracts for possible contributions should be sent to f.f.carla@exeter.ac.uk by the 30th September 2016. The proposals, and the eventual ensuing papers, can be in English, German, Italian, French or Spanish.

The accepted articles, which must be a max. of 90,000 characters including empty spaces, footnotes and bibliography in length and contain an English abstract of around 150 words, will have to be submitted by the 30th June 2017.

The papers will undergo a peer review process according to the journal’s guidelines, found here.