Epistula narrans. Narrative Modelling in Latin Epistolography

International Graduate and Early Career Conference

July 5-7th 2018

Call for Papers

In the morning, we are woken up by a voice from the radio reading the news, getting to work by train we read the latest novel by Paul Auster, afterwards we report in a business meeting how statistics of the last quarters developed, back at home in the evening our children tell us the events of their day.

Stories are everywhere. Every day, we are narrating stories on countless occasions and in most different contexts. That’s because stories explain our world and make sense of it. They not only give us access to reality, they even model it due to their performative force. Storytelling is an anthropological constant and a basic element of human communication (cf. Koschorke 2012).

Accordingly, it is obvious to assume that stories also appear in the most common and standard pre-modern communication medium par excellence, in letters. Actually, letters are full of accounts, reports, and explanations, in a word, full of stories. Thus, it is all the more astonishing that narratology has avoided and neglected letters almost completely so far, not at least ancient Latin epistolography, even though more recent studies have transcended genre boundaries (cf. Nünning/Nünning 2002) and extended analyses to narrative texts in a broader sense, e.g. to historiography (cf. White), lyric poetry (cf. Hühn/Kiefer 2005), and elegy (Liveley/Salzman-Mitchell 2008).

The conference wants to face this research desideratum. It seeks to examine Latin epistolography reaching from Cicero to Late Antiquity, from a narratological approach.


University of Tübingen
Department of Classics
Wilhelmstraße 36
72074 Tübingen