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Michele Salzman, a professor of history at the University of California, Riverside, will examine the downturn of ancient Rome in a UT Humanities Center Distinguished Lecture October 22.

Salzman’s lecture, which is free and open to the public, is titled “The ‘Falls of Rome’: The Transformations of Rome in Late Antiquity (270–603).” It will begin at 3:30 p.m. in the Lindsay Young Auditorium of John C. Hodges Library.

In her lecture, Salzman will argue that the downturn of Rome was neither inevitable, nor the result of a sudden catastrophic event, but rather a series of crises that occurred over the course of a 300-year period. She will discuss how instability provided opportunities for different groups of citizens competing to be elites and how this competition transformed Rome and all of Italy.

Salzman’s research explores the religious and social history of late antiquity. Her first book, On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity, examines the earliest surviving illustrated Roman calendar. Her second book, The Making of a Christian Aristocracy, investigated the social and religious issues surrounding the conversion of the Roman aristocracy from paganism to Christianity in the century after Constantine.

Her research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philosophical Society, and the Whiting Foundation. She has also received a Rome Prize Fellowship and Lucy Shoe Merritt Scholar in Residence award at the American Academy in Rome, as well as an NEH grant to be project director of a summer seminar at the American Academy in Rome on the “falls” of Rome.

Salzman is one of ten UT Humanities Center visiting scholars who will be speaking this year. The remaining guest speakers in the lecture series are:

Nov. 9—Juliet Walker, professor of history and founder/director of the Center for Black Business History, Entrepreneurship, and Technology, University of Texas, Austin, “When Will All Black Economic Lives Matter? After 400 Years, 1619–2019, We Are Still at the Racial Bottom”

Jan. 14—Martin Kern, Greg and Joanna Zeluck Professor in Asian Studies, Princeton University, “The Origins of Chinese Poetry”

Feb. 11—Akeel Bilgrami, Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University, “Agency, Value, and Alienation”

Feb. 22—Daniel O’Quinn, professor, School of English and Theatre, University of Guelph, “Shylocks: Anti-Semitism, Pugilism, and the Repertoire of Theatrical Violence”

March 21—Kenneth Pomeranz, University Professor of History, University of Chicago, topic to be announced

March 28—Helmut Reimitz, professor of history, Princeton University, “On the Use and Abuse of the Roman Past in the Early Medieval West”

April 7—John Bryant, professor of English, Hofstra University, “Big Data, Small Data: Melville and the Humanities as Fluid Texts”

April 18—Barbara Savage, Geraldine Segal Professor of American Social Thought, Department of Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania, “Merze Tate: Cosmopolitan Woman, Diplomatic Historian, World Traveler”


Joan Murray (865-974-4222, jmurra10@utk.edu)