Call for Papers

Discourses of Disruption: The Power of Impoverished Aesthetics

This panel seeks papers exploring experiences in Latin literature that have typically been excluded from aesthetic consideration: representations and perceptions of smallness, meanness, ugliness, the uncanny, and more. We aim to explore these “impoverished aesthetics” in ancient literature, particularly in their potential for disrupting discourses of power. When and how is the marginal, the mean, or the small elevated to a position of power in the literary discourse? When and how is it used to craft discourse about power? When and how is it used to empower or disempower audiences and readers, e.g. by reinforcing or disrupting aesthetic expectations? How do smallness and meanness disrupt or challenge the power of dominant aesthetics and rhetorical canonization in Latin literature?

We welcome abstracts on any non-canonical or underrecognized aspect of Latin aesthetics. Possible topics include: 

  • The aesthetics of poverty, want, and need 

  • Surprise, irritation, and/or the uncanny 

  • Disrupted and disruptive landscapes, such as sites of war, famine, or plague 

  • Deformity in aesthetic and/or physical terms, such as ugly texts or ugly bodies 

  • Rhetorical techniques of surprise and/or disruption 

  • Ancient literary critical responses to ugliness and obscenity 


Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words, and/or any inquiries, to Lorenza Bennardo ( by Monday, August 16 at midnight (EDT). Selected abstracts will be included in the organizers’ panel proposal and subject to acceptance by the Classical Association (