CFP Inscriptions and Literacy, Jan 2021, Chicago

Call for Papers for the SCS/ASGLE Panel
at the 2021 Society for Classical Studies Annual Meeting
January 7-10, 2021, Chicago:

Inscriptions and Literacy

Sponsored by the American Society of Greek and Latin Epigraphy (ASGLE).
Organized by Rebecca Benefiel, Washington and Lee University.

What does the ubiquity of inscriptions in the ancient world communicate about ancient literacy?

The aim of this panel is to consider the relationship of epigraphy and literacy in, as Peter Kruschwitz has described it, a “fundamentally lettered world.” Scholars have profitably examined the interrelated concepts of orality and literacy (cf. the Orality and Literacy in the Ancient World series), and recent publications are bringing archaeological material to bear on the question. Yet following Harris’ Ancient Literacy (1989), work ranging from Literacy in the Roman world (JRA Supp. 1991) to Literacy in ancient everyday life (De Gruyter 2018) demonstrates that epigraphy offers particularly productive ways to approach the topic of ancient literacy.

How do inscriptions rely on the abilities of the viewer to communicate their message? Should we consider ancient literacy or ancient literacies? Each type of material, from monumental inscriptions to ostraka, from lead tablets to dipinti and graffiti, provides a different perspective on the use and the ability to read and write.

Papers might address the topics of literacy or literacies, audience and viewer, the concept of working literacy or subcategories of literacy, the variety of written material from the ancient world, or other points of contact between epigraphy and literacy.

Abstracts should be a maximum of 500 words (bibliography excluded), and will be evaluated anonymously by two reviewers. Please follow the SCS “Guidelines for Authors of Abstracts” ( Send abstracts as a Word or PDF file that does not include your name by March 1, 2020 to Rebecca Benefiel at  (Please note that authors submitting abstracts must be SCS members in good standing and will need to register for the 2021 meeting.)

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