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Celebrating Recent Work by Rob Goodman and Dan-el Padilla Peralta

New Books in the Society of Fellows

dateOctober 24, 2022 timeMonday, 6:15pm EDT locationVirtual Event location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Covers of Divine Institutions by Dan-el Padilla Peralta and Words on Fire by Rob Goodman

Words On Fire by Rob Goodman

Why is political rhetoric broken – and how can it be fixed? Words on Fire returns to the origins of rhetoric to recover the central place of eloquence in political thought. Eloquence, for the orators of classical antiquity, emerged from rhetorical relationships that exposed both speaker and audience to risk. Through close readings of Cicero –– and his predecessors, rivals, and successors –– political theorist and former speechwriter Rob Goodman tracks the development of this ideal, in which speech is both spontaneous and stylized, and in which the pursuit of eloquence mitigates political inequalities. He goes on to trace the fierce disputes over Ciceronian speech in the modern world through the work of such figures as Burke, Macaulay, Tocqueville, and Schmitt, explaining how rhetorical risk-sharing has broken down. Words on Fire offers a powerful critique of today's political language – and shows how the struggle over the meaning of eloquence has shaped our world.

Divine Institutions: Religions and Community in the Middle Roman Republic by Dan-el Padilla Peralta

Many narrative histories of Rome’s transformation from an Italian city-state to a Mediterranean superpower focus on political and military conflicts as the primary agents of social change. Divine Institutions places religion at the heart of this transformation, showing how religious ritual and observance held the Roman Republic together during the fourth and third centuries BCE, a period when the Roman state significantly expanded and diversified.

Blending the latest advances in archaeology with innovative sociological and anthropological methods, Dan-el Padilla Peralta takes readers from the capitulation of Rome’s neighbor and adversary Veii in 398 BCE to the end of the Second Punic War in 202 BCE, demonstrating how the Roman state was redefined through the twin pillars of temple construction and pilgrimage. He sheds light on how the proliferation of temples together with changes to Rome’s calendar created new civic rhythms of festival celebration, and how pilgrimage to the city surged with the increase in the number and frequency of festivals attached to Rome’s temple structures.

About the Authors:

Rob Goodman is Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Administration at Toronto Metropolitan University. He received his PhD in political science from Columbia University and was a Heyman Fellow between 2017 and 2018. His research interests include rhetoric, classics, and the history of political thought, and he is currently co-editing a volume on populism and rhetoric in historical perspective.

Dan-el Padilla Peralta is Associate Professor of Classics at Princeton University. He was a Fellow at the Society of Fellows at Columbia from 2014 to 2016. He is the author of Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League and the coeditor of Rome, Empire of Plunder: The Dynamics of Cultural Appropriation.

About the Speakers:

Joseph Howley is Associate Professor of Classics at Columbia University. He has published on the Noctes Atticae of Aulus Gellius and its intersections with Roman intellectual and reading cultures, including Roman study abroad and juristic writing. His current book project, Slavery and the Roman Book, is a history of the Roman book seen through the lens of the enslaved labor on which it depended: for the composition of literature, the reading of books, and the production of new copies.

Mark Mazower is Ira D. Wallach Professor of History at Columbia University. He specializes in modern Greece, 20th-century Europe, and international history. His current interests include the history of the Greek war of independence and the historical evolution of the Greek islands in the very long run.

Gareth Williams has taught at Columbia since 1992. He received a Ph.D. in 1990 from Cambridge University for a dissertation on Ovid’s exilic writings that subsequently resulted in two books, the first Banished Voices: Readings in Ovid’s Exile Poetry (Cambridge, 1994) and the second The Curse of Exile: A Study of Ovid’s Ibis, Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society Supplementary Volume 19 (Cambridge, 1996).