Category Archives: Uncategorized

Roman Imperialism, Identity, and Agency

revell roman imperialism.jpg Louise Revell, Roman Imperialism and Local Identities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

From the publisher’s description of the book —

In this book, Louise Revell examines questions of Roman imperialism and Roman ethnic identity and explores Roman imperialism as a lived experience based around the paradox of similarity and difference. Her case studies of public architecture in several urban settings provide an understanding of the ways in which urbanism, the emperor and religion were part of the daily encounters of the peoples in these communities. Revell applies the ideas of agency and practice in her examination of the structures that held the empire together and how they were implicated within repeated daily activities. Rather than offering a homogenized ‘ideal type’ description of Roman cultural identity, she uses these structures as a way to understand how these encounters differed between communities and within communities, thus producing a more nuanced interpretation of what it was to be Roman. Bringing an innovative approach to the problem of Romanization, Revell breaks from traditional models and cuts across a number of entrenched debates, such as arguments about the imposition of Roman culture or resistance to Roman rule.

A scholar of Roman architecture and Latin epigraphy, Louise Revell is lecturer in the department of archaeology at the University of Southampton.

Descriptions and access at Cambridge University Press, Amazon.

Penn State study abroad rankings

From today’s Penn State Newswire

Penn State ranks 12th among study abroad programs

Penn State's University Park campus was ranked 12th among U.S. doctorate-granting universities with the most students studying abroad in 2006-07, according to the 2008 Open Doors report published annually by the Institute of International Education. According to the report released Monday (Nov. 17), 1,830 Penn State students attending University Park were studying abroad. However, for the first time, the report listed separate figures for Penn State students at other locations, therefore the total for the entire University stands at 2,183 students studying abroad, slightly ahead of the 2,168 total in last year's report.

Read the full story on Live:

Obama Election in Europe

In today’s New York Times, Steven Erlanger reports on the European response to the election of Barack Obama. He writes, of the Italian response,

In Italy, Jean-L´┐Żonard Touadi, the only black member of the Italian Parliament, sees the Obama victory similarly. It is “a great and concrete provocation to European society and European politics,” said Mr. Touadi, born in the Congo Republic. Mr. Obama gives hope, he said, that “one day” there can be a similar outcome in Europe.

But not soon. Hossain Moazzem, a Bangladeshi waiter at L’Insalata Ricca restaurant, said he hoped Mr. Obama’s victory would foster “change all over the world.” But Italy, he said, had a “long, long” way to go.

Steven Erlanger, “After U.S. Breakthrough, Europe Looks in Mirror,” New York Times, 12 November 2008.

thanks to Rick Ruth for finding this today.

Sylvio Berlusconi’s Sex and Race Follies

Italian Prime Minister Sylvio Berlusconi said in a Moscow news conference, after a meeting with Russian President Medvedev that the newly elected American president Barack Obama is “young, handsome, and even tanned.” Berlusconi has a history of making crude jokes. This one reverberated around the world.

Here is the Los Angeles Times report:

Berlusconi, who has a history of controversial remarks, said the relative youth of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and Obama should make it easier for Moscow and Washington to work together.

Then, smiling, he said through an interpreter, “I told the president that he [Obama] has everything needed in order to reach deals with him: He’s young, handsome and even tanned.”

Medvedev did not visibly react.

Berlusconi, 72, later defended the remark, calling it “a great compliment. . . . If they have the vice of not having a sense of humor, worse for them,” the ANSA news agency reported.

Berlusconi said the remark was meant to be “cute” and he lashed out at those who disagreed, calling them “imbeciles, of which there are too many.”

Italy’s only black lawmaker, Jean-Leonard Touadi, called the comment embarrassing.

Carla Bruni, wife of French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, was born an Italian citizen and became a French citizen when she married Sarkozy earlier this year. When she learned of Berlusconi’s comments, she said that she was glad she had become French.

Los Angeles Times, “Foreign chiefs have funny way of offering congrats; Berlusconi says Obama is ‘handsome and even tanned.’ Ahmadinejad slams U.S. policies,” 7 November 2008.

See also

Alexander Stille, Letter from Rome, “Girls! Girls! Girls! The P.M.’s Sex Follies,” The New Yorker, 3 November 2008, 70-76.

Study Abroad — for Professors

There is an interesting article in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education on programs that some colleges are experimenting with to provide international experiences for their professors. I agree that study abroad is useful not only for students but also for professors, and it is great to see that some colleges are taking the lead to make this possible.

In our own program in Rome, we have been working hard to help  other professors and graduate students (our future professors) to experience Rome with our students.

"Professors Get Their Own Study-Abroad
Programs" is available online at this address:

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Thanks to Hillary Jones for a pointer to FoxLingo, a web site translator that will let the user translate, for example, Italian sites into English. FoxLingo is an add-on for the Firefox web browser.

Rome, You Betcha!

In today’s New York Times, Maureen Dowd compares the current military, economic, and political situation in the United States to the decline and fall of Rome.

Published: October 12, 2008
New York Times

The decline and fall of the American Empire echoes the experience of the Romans, who also tumbled into the trap of becoming over-leveraged empire hussies.