Book History Colloquium: “How to Read Books Doing Things in Imperial Rome”

Joseph Howley

Assistant Professor of Classics, Columbia University


September 26, 2013 (Thursday)

Butler Library, Room 523 at 6:00 p.m.

Between the Alexandrian aesthetics of the poetic book roll and the modern values of the industrially printed codex lies the world of  the Roman book.  This talk examines some uses of the material text in Roman prose authors such as Seneca the Elder, Suetonius, and Aulus Gellius, including its use as a weapon, its subjection to destruction, and its relationship to speech and thought, to explore how Romans imagined the book as a  technology and force in their world.

Joseph Howley works on the intellectual culture of the Roman Empire, processes of mediation in the Roman Imperial world, problems of miscellany and other quasi-literary forms, and the ancient and modern history of the book. He is currently preparing a book on Noctes Atticae of Aulus Gellius, exploring the way Gellius’s neglected work frames, narrates, and prompts processes of critical and self-aware learning in the context of second-century Rome.


The Book History Colloquium at Columbia University, open to any discipline, aims to provide a broad outlet for the scholarly discussion of book history, print culture, the book arts, and bibliographical research, and (ideally) the promotion of research and publication in these fields. Our presenters include Columbia faculty members and advanced graduate students, and scholars of national prominence from a range of institutions.

Questions? Email Karla Nielsen.

All sessions take place 6pm in 523 Butler Library, Columbia Morningside Campus, unless otherwise noted.