Monday, 19 June 2017

Elisabeth Begemann is going to present a working paper on '“They demand a spectacle!” – The Roman triumph in American movies'

In the context of the Cold War, the depiction of the Roman triumph in Hollywood history films was an ambivalent affair. It worked both within the movie and towards the watching audience as actual parades and processions do, sending multiple messages that need decoding by the target audiences. In the context of the US/USSR antagonism, which was framed also in religious terms as a struggle not only between political systems, but between different faiths, and with the film industry in both nations being employed (with their consent) as active players in this struggle to promote certain values deemed intrinsic to their nations, the depiction of Roman religion in history films set in the ancient world had to be muted against the backdrop of America’s long identification with the Roman republic and the Roman empire, so as not to contradict its self-understanding as a Christian nation. Considering the Roman triumph as a test case, the paper examines the ways in which Roman religion was adapted and reinterpreted to fit American needs.

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