Novel Perspectives on Communication Practices in Antiquity. Towards a Historical Socio-Semiotic Approach

03-05 October 2019, Ghent, Belgium 

The main aim of this conference, which forms the opening event of the ERC-project ‘Everyday writing in Graeco-Roman and Late Antique Egypt. A socio-semiotic study of communicative variation’ (2018-2023; www.evwrit.ugent.be), is to explore to what extent it is possible and desirable to found a discipline such as historical social-semiotics, parallel to historical socio-linguistics. Such a novel, interdisciplinary approach is particularly relevant for ‘everyday’ documentary texts: since these texts represent autographs, their external characteristics can also be brought into the interpretation. Jean-Luc Fournet (2007), for example, has recently argued for a ‘paléographie signifiante’, noting that ‘l’analyse matérielle d’un document peut être porteuse de sens’ (2007:353), not only when it comes to text type, but also with regard to the socio-cultural context of writing, and the provenance of the document. Other external characteristics to be considered as expressions of social meaning (functioning as ‘semiotic resources’) are – but are not limited to – writing material, document format, and language choice. Their analysis reveals information concerning hierarchy, status and social relations. 

Program: 

Thursday, October 3, 2019 

8:45-9:15: 
Registration 

9:15-9:30: 
Welcome Greetings 

Morning session: Genre and multimodality 
Chairperson: Klaas Bentein 

9:30-10:00: 
Klaas Bentein (Ghent University) 
Introduction 

10:00-10:30: 
Sarah Béthume (INCAL/CEMA, UCLouvain) 
“The ‘exposed writings’: how the study of the ‘pluricode’ message of ancient Greek inscriptions can shed light on the archaic and classical dialectal variation” 

10:30-11:00: 
Nicola Reggiani (University of Parma) 
“Towards a socio-semiotic analysis of Greek medical prescriptions on papyrus” 

11:00-11:30: Coffee Break 

11:30-12:00: 
Francesca Murano & Mariarosaria Zinzi (University of Florence) 
“A social-semiotic analysis of Greek defixiones from South Italy” 

12:00-12:30: 
Jimmy Wolfe (The Ohio State University) 
“Imagining faith: images, scripts, and texts of early Christian inscriptions from the Roman Near East” 

12:30-14:00: Lunch Break 

Afternoon session: Texts and intra-semiosis 
Chairperson: Yasmine Amory 

14:00-14:45: 
Key-note speaker, Antonella Ghignoli (Sapienza – University of Rome) 
“This is the catalogue! A so far unknown latin documentary papyrus from 6th century Italy” 

14:45-15:15: 
Martti Leiwo (University of Helsinki) 
“Hands and language in ostraca letters from Roman praesidia in Egypt” 

15:15-15:45: 
Giulio Iovine (University of Naples “Federico II”) 
“Descriptum et recognitum. A survey of Latin closing and acknowledging formulae in Latin and Greek papyri and ostraca” 

15:45-16:15: Coffee Break 

16:15-16:45: 
Antonia Apostolakou (Ghent University) 
“How to sign a contract in Late Antique Egypt: a study of linguistic variation” 

16:45-17:15: 
Simona Russo (Istituto papirologico “G. Vitelli”) 
“Rome as New York, fashion capital?” 

* Reception at Alice 

Friday, October 4, 2019 

Morning session: Sociolinguistic variation 
Chairperson: Mark Janse 

9:15-10:00: 
Key-note speaker, James Clackson (University of Cambridge) 
“Standard languages, language standards and language norms in the Greco-Roman world” 

10:00-10:30: 
Polina Yordanova (University of Helsinki) 
“Тhe forest’s broken branches: discontinuity in Greek word order in documentary papyri from III c BCE to III c CE” 

10:30-11:00: 
Alek Keersmaekers (UK Leuven) 
“Sociolinguistic variation in the Greek papyri: a corpus-based, bottom-up approach” 

11:00-11:30: Coffee Break 

11:30-12:00: 
Emmanuel Roumanis & Geert De Mol (Ghent University) 
“The Abinnaeus archive: lexical and orthographic features” 

12:00-12:30: 
Alessandro Papini (Ghent University) 
“A preliminary investigation on the graphemic oscillations in Italian Latin inscriptions of the Republican age” 

12:30-14:00: Lunch Break 

Afternoon session: Visual and material aspects of texts 
Chairperson: Joanne Stolk 

14:00-14:45: 
Key-note speaker, Jean-Luc Fournet (Collège de France – EPHE) 
“Beyond the text: the contribution of the ‘paléographie signifiante’” 

14:45-15:15: 
Marco Stroppa (Istituto papirologico “G. Vitelli”) 
“Big & small: the size of documents as a semiotic resource for Graeco-Roman Egypt?” 

15:15-15:45: 
Nina Sietis (Sapienza – University of Rome) 
“Abbreviations in Greek documentary texts. A case study of ‘significant palaeography’” 

15:45-16:15: Coffee Break 

16:15-16:45: 
Eleonora Conti (Istituto papirologico “G. Vitelli”) 
“Spread and persistence of Latin document features in some Greek letters of high chancery on papyrus” 

16:45-17:15: 
Yasmine Amory (Ghent University) 
“Visual signs of deference in Late Antique letters” 

17:30: 
Visit at the Archaeological Collection of Ghent University at Het Pand 

19:30: Dinner at Sint Jorishof (optional, pre-reservation required) 

Saturday, October 5, 2019 

Morning session: Multimodal aspects of writing 
Chairperson: Giovanbattista Galdi 

9:15-10:00: 
Key-note speaker, Mark Depauw (UC Leuven) 
“Splitting words in Greek letters and petitions. Quantitative research based on Trismegistos” 

10:00-10:30: 
Joanne Stolk (Ghent University/University of Oslo) 
“The social meaning of scribal corrections in final versions of papyrus letters”