Terence Seminar and Conference

Phormio Seminar Week 1
Wednesday, January 17, 2024 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
David Shipp (Oxford); ll. 1-111
Corpus Christi College and Zoom
Phormio Seminar Week 2
Wednesday, January 24, 2024 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Matthew Leigh (Oxford); ll.111-230
Corpus Christi College and Zoom
Phormio Seminar Week 3
Wednesday, January 31, 2024 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Jonathan Katz (Oxford); ll. 231-347
Corpus Christi College and Zoom
Phormio Seminar Week 4
Wednesday, February 7, 2024 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Sebastian Hyams (Oxford); ll. 347-464
Corpus Christi College and Zoom
Phormio Seminar Week 5
Wednesday, February 14, 2024 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Melina McClure (Oxford); ll. 465-566
Corpus Christi College and Zoom
Phormio Seminar Week 6
Wednesday, February 21, 2024 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Charlotte Susser (Oxford); ll. 567-726
Corpus Christi College and Zoom
Phormio Seminar Week 7
Wednesday, February 28, 2024 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Matthew Wainwright (Oxford); ll. 726-894
Corpus Christi College and Zoom
Phormio Seminar Week 8
Wednesday, March 6, 2024 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Valentino Gargano (Oxford); ll. 895-1055
Corpus Christi College and Zoom
Terence Conference
Friday, March 8, 2024 - 10:00am to 6:00pm
Corpus Christi College and Zoom

The Seminar

Wednesdays, 17 January to 6 March, 5-6.30pm (GMT)
Corpus Christi College Oxford and on Zoom

In anticipation of the conference (see below), there will be a weekly seminar on Terence’s Phormio during Hilary (Spring) term 2024. This will bring together the ‘close reading’ typical of the Oxford seminar, with big-picture methodological discussion, to create a better understanding of how we have, how we might, and how we should, interpret Terentian comedy. Graduate students and early career researchers will introduce select passages, before we open up to the room for roundtable discussion. Anyone can participate. It is by no means expected that participants will have any prior knowledge of Phormio or of Roman comedy in general. In fact, our aim is to bring a range of different approaches to bear on the text.

  • Week 1 (17 Jan.): David Shipp (Oxford), ll. 1-111
  • Week 2 (24 Jan.]: Matthew Leigh (Oxford), ll.111-230
  • Week 3 (31 Jan.): Jonathan Katz (Oxford), ll. 231-347
  • Week 4 (7 Feb.): Sebastian Hyams (Oxford), ll. 347-464
  • Week 5 (14 Feb.): Melina McClure (Oxford), ll. 465-566
  • Week 6 (21 Feb.): Charlotte Susser (Oxford), ll. 567-726
  • Week 7 (28 Feb.): Matthew Wainwright (Oxford), ll. 726-894
  • Week 8 (6 March): Valentino Gargano (Oxford), ll. 895-1055

Register for the seminar

If you are planning to attend the event, either in person or via Zoom, you are kindly requested to fill in the online Registration Form.

For any information or queries please email: 

The Conference

Friday 8 March 2024, 10.00am to 6:00pm (GMT)
Corpus Christi College Oxford and Zoom

It is now over forty years since Sander Goldberg surveyed the landscape of Terentian scholarship and invoked a ‘crisis’. In that time, there has been considerable progress, in particular, the publication of a series of excellent commentaries and companions. Yet, there remains a sense that the modern Terence, the post-analytic Terence, lacks an identity. As Robert Germany observed, where once he struggled in the shadow of Menander, now the comedian is losing his ‘zero-sum’ game with Plautus: formalist critics, following Niall Slater, have responded to an aesthetic shift, rooted in post-World War II Absurdist theatre, to re-interpret Plautine humour as a remarkable, refined, exuberance; furthermore, historicist critics, like Kathleen McCarthy and Amy Richlin, have transformed the Plautine servus callidus into an animated political subject, overshadowing his pared-back Terentian counterpart. Of course, in the last decade, fresh critical concepts – such as intertextuality, metatheatre, and politeness – have revealed new aspects of Terence’s artistry. Yet there seems a risk of belatedness. In a field still dominated by articles and chapters, rather than monographs, might we end up importing methodologies, once hotly-debated in their original fields, without due reflection? Might their nuanced, theoretical grounding pass us by?

In this workshop, we want to reckon with the state of Terentian scholarship, and set two goals:

  1. To bring out the ‘Theory’ that has informed recent approaches to Terence. To offer one brief illustration, we should not be content to idly historicise. As Rita Felski, for example, has demonstrated, to situate ‘text’ against ‘context’ is a loaded decision. With this in mind, we propose to ask each speaker to acknowledge, explain, and debate, their particular theoretical orientation(s).
  2. To encourage ‘Theory’-inclined scholars, working on adjacent authors, to introduce new critical avenues that may open up Terentian criticism. Such methodological transfer, of course, may not be wholly successful. But we hope ‘failure’ may be as interesting as ‘success’ – in that it may help reveal what is so unique about our dramatist.

Speakers will adopt perspectives informed by psychoanalysis, sociolinguistics, cognitive science, sensory anthropology, subaltern studies, media theory, and the new materialism(s).

Conference Programme

10.00-10.10  Introduction to the Conference

10.10-10.55  Beppe Pezzini (University of Oxford), The Language and Text of Terence: Some Methodological Reflections

10.55-11.40  Erica Bexley (Durham University), Plotting Realism in Terence

11.40-12.00  Coffee Break

12.00-12.45  Mario Telò (UC Berkeley), The Title's Ungendered Flesh: Terence with Hortense Spillers

12.45-1.30   Domenico Giordani (University of Oxford/UCL), The Cultural Biography of Phormio: Subalternity and Commodification in Terence

1.30-2.30  Lunch at Corpus Christi

2.30-3.15  Tom Lister (University of Oxford), A Sensory Terence: (Dis)embodiment and (Im)materiality

3.15-4.00 Ruth Caston (University of Michigan), Intersections between Comedy and Philosophy: Skepticism and parrhesia in Terence's Andria 

4.00-4.20  Coffee Break

4.20-5.05  David Youd (UC Berkeley), Terence's Queer Aesthetics: Hecyra and the Death Drive

5.05-5.50  Martin Dinter (KCL), Terence the Intermedial – Referencing Roman Comedy

5.50-6.00  Closing Remarks

Register for the conference

If you are planning to attend the conference (either in person or via Zoom), please register your details via the online form>

For any information or queries please email: thomas.lister@lmh.ox.ac.uk or giuseppe.pezzini@ccc.ox.ac.uk

Aedicula of masks for Phormio. Vatican City, BAV, MS Vat. lat. 3868, fol. 77r Aedicula of masks for Phormio. Vatican City, BAV, MS Vat. lat. 3868, fol. 77r