Presenter Information

Miranda SmithFollow

Document Type

Panel Presentation

Keywords

abject, emasculation, Rome

Biography

I'm from Matewan, WV, and am currently a sophomore at Marshall University majoring in Literary Studies, Creative Writing, and Classics. After graduating I hope to attend grad school and get a PhD in English Lit.

Major

Literary Studies, Creative Writing, Classics

Advisor for this project

Dr. Christina Franzen

Start Date

20-4-2018 10:45 AM

End Date

20-4-2018 12:00 PM

Abstract

In Book 13 of The Annals, Roman author and historian Tacitus narrates the murder of Britannicus by his step-brother and then-Emperor of Rome, Nero, as a result of the latter’s fears that the life of his step-brother is a threat to the legitimacy of his claim to the throne. The language used in this account alludes to the abject, a term which refers to something which has been cast off from oneself or something which transgresses boundaries or the order of law or the natural world. It also refers the human reaction that occurs as a result of any of the previous definitions of the abject. Furthermore, the means and description of execution involve forms of penetration. Consequently, by applying Jonathan Walters’ “Invading the Roman Body: Manliness and Impenetrability in Roman Thought” and Julie Kristeva’s “Approaching Abjection,” I find that this story of murder transforms into one of emasculation and political usurpation via the manipulation of the societal unease elicited by the abject and the confusion it causes. I argue that this confusion impacts the boundaries which separate male from female within the book as well as that which dictates what is right and wrong, or lawful and chaotic. I conclude by examining the utilization of the abject – or the state of being the cause of or the originator of abjection – as one of the ultimate forms of power, both politically and socially, in addition to exploring the Roman idea of “impenetrability” as it relates to the abject.

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Apr 20th, 10:45 AM Apr 20th, 12:00 PM

Abjection as a Means of Social and Political Dominance in Tacitus’s The Annals

In Book 13 of The Annals, Roman author and historian Tacitus narrates the murder of Britannicus by his step-brother and then-Emperor of Rome, Nero, as a result of the latter’s fears that the life of his step-brother is a threat to the legitimacy of his claim to the throne. The language used in this account alludes to the abject, a term which refers to something which has been cast off from oneself or something which transgresses boundaries or the order of law or the natural world. It also refers the human reaction that occurs as a result of any of the previous definitions of the abject. Furthermore, the means and description of execution involve forms of penetration. Consequently, by applying Jonathan Walters’ “Invading the Roman Body: Manliness and Impenetrability in Roman Thought” and Julie Kristeva’s “Approaching Abjection,” I find that this story of murder transforms into one of emasculation and political usurpation via the manipulation of the societal unease elicited by the abject and the confusion it causes. I argue that this confusion impacts the boundaries which separate male from female within the book as well as that which dictates what is right and wrong, or lawful and chaotic. I conclude by examining the utilization of the abject – or the state of being the cause of or the originator of abjection – as one of the ultimate forms of power, both politically and socially, in addition to exploring the Roman idea of “impenetrability” as it relates to the abject.