Institute for the Humanities Lecture

Sep 26, 2017

4:00 pm

Colvard Student Union - Foster Ballroom

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State University professor will speak Tuesday, September 26 about how Roman citizens juggled information overload in their era.

Scott DiGiulio’s university presentation will explore the Roman practice of literary compilation and the techniques they developed to help navigate the quantity of available literature in their society. Titled “Literary Compilation and the Challenges of Information Overload in the Roman World,” the 4 p.m. event in the Coskrey Auditorium of Memorial Hall at MSU is free and open to all.

DiGiulio is a visiting assistant professor in the classical and modern languages and literatures department.

“At the height of the Roman Empire, readers had access to a vast amount of literature …realistically too much for any one person to read,” DiGiulio said. “At the same time, being able to display one’s intimate knowledge with this deep literary tradition was [closely connected] to social status.”

“Really, they suffered from a kind of information overload,” DiGiulio said, “which is somewhat akin to our current abundance of writing thanks to media like the internet."

The act of reading “may seem simple, but there are so many ways to approach a text,” said Julia Osman, incoming director for the Institute for the Humanities.

“The Romans did not have the internet, however learned members of society had to digest and arrange a tremendous amount of information,” Osman said. 

One of the chief strategies for dealing with information overload in the ancient world was creating compilations of material.  These works “preserve a lot of material for us that we wouldn’t otherwise have, but what is most interesting to me is thinking about why certain authors were excerpted and others weren’t,” DiGiulio said.

“Scott’s work on Roman literary culture provides provocative new insights on literacy, education and different Roman intellectual elites,” said Peter Corrigan, head of the CMLL.  “The late second century proved pivotal in many important social, cultural and political respects, and Scott is producing the kind of scholarship that will change our views on that era altogether.”

Now in his second year at MSU, DiGiulio received an A.B. from Harvard University in 2009 and a Ph.D. at Brown University in 2015, both in classics.
DiGiulio was a fellow for the Institute for the Humanities at MSU last year.

DiGiulio is currently composing a book on the literary compilation Attic Nights by Aulus Gellius. He has presented lectures on Gellius’ works and ideas at conferences across the U.S. and has published articles on Gellius and the intellectual culture of the Roman Empire.

Since 2014 DiGiulio has served as the project manager for the U.S. Epigraphy Project and was a member of the research team for the international project “Visible Words: Research and Training in Digital Contextual Epigraphy” until the project’s conclusion in 2016.

His lecture is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Institute for the Humanities and the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures.

MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,000 students, 300 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs and 25 academic majors offered in 14 departments. Complete details about the College of Arts and Sciences may be found at www.cas.msstate.edu.

For more on the Institute for the Humanities, www.ih.msstate.edu; and the CMLL department, www.cmll.msstate.edu.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.


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