Lorenza Bennardo Receives SSHRC Grant

August 30, 2022 by Department of Classics

Lorenza Bennardo has been awarded, with her co-applicant Rebecca Moorman (Providence College), a SSHRC grant of the value of 12K, with matching funds from the Department of History and Classics at Providence College, the Department of Classics at UTSG, the Departments of Historical Studies and Language Studies at UTM, and the Centre for Collaborative Digital Research Space at UTM. 

The grant supports the organization of a conference on “Impoverished Aesthetics: new approaches to marginality in Latin literature.” 

The “Impoverished Aesthetic” conference explores artistic and sensory expressions of marginalized states of being in Latin Literature --- states of depletion, smallness, meanness, or "lack." Scholars ancient and modern have relied on the category of the "sublime", or the aesthetic state generated by the perception of beauty and grandeur, to assess the value of Latin texts. The “Impoverished Aesthetics” project, on the other hand, asks what type of aesthetic experience is generated when Roman writers focus on the abject and small, the mean, ugly and weak, deprivation and scarcity, and more. How can centering ugliness, inferiority, and depleted affects disrupt dominant readings of Latin texts? How can the exploration of aesthetic marginality grant insight into subaltern identities of class, race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and more in Roman culture? How does modern and contemporary creativity respond to the potential for disruption embedded in “nondominant subjects” in Latin literature? By exploring marginal aesthetics, the project aims to create space for the plurality of voices and the complexities of ancient texts, and to contribute to current conversations about the place of Latin literature within a global set of knowledge and traditions. 

The “Impoverished Aesthetics” conference gathers a group of international scholars that will explore ways in which non-dominant states normally assessed as negative, unpleasant, and unproductive play a pivotal role in conveying ideas of beauty and power to ancient audiences. Speakers will discuss instantiations of impoverished aesthetics in Latin literature, such as the aesthetics of bad taste and grotesque excess; poverty and weakness; decadence and decline; hunger and exhaustion; stupidity; and the first-person feminine voice. Following a panel held at the CA Conference (Swansea 2022), this conference will be the second step towards building an interdisciplinary approach and an epistemological background for the concept of impoverished aesthetics. 

The conference will be held in Toronto on October 21-22, 2022.