ILS 340 Fall 2020

Download Classics 340 ILS 371 - Conspiracy Nelsestuen

Focusing particularly on the world of the ancient Romans, this course (in translation) interrogates the phenomenon and notion of “conspiracy”—as well as the related concepts of “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracism”—within the political, social, cultural, familial, and religious spheres. This course is divided into five parts. The first part offers an introduction to the course and sketches some of the basic phenomena we will be covering. In the second, we investigate some famous political conspiracies, including the so-called “Catilinarian Conspiracy” and the assassination of Julius Caesar. The third part turns to the Roman household to consider the social, familial, and gendered dimensions of domestic conspiracies, including the way that women, children, and enslaved peoples could threaten the notional “tyranny” of the paterfamilias. In the fourth part, we consider prominent religious movements that came into conflict with Roman authorities—especially the mystery cults surrounding Bacchus as well as sects of early Christianity—while the fifth part returns to the concepts of “conspiracy” and “conspiracy theory.” Interspersed throughout are periodic considerations of more
modern phenomena, including the Salem Witch Trials, the Red Scare of the 1950s, QAnon, and even contemporary political events (read: the election), which may, or may not, admit analysis as a “conspiracy” or “conspiracy theory.” As we shall see, “conspiracy” and “conspiracy theory” are useful, yet sometimes tendentious, concepts, which often reveal more about the society and culture in which they occur (as well as those who write about them) than the actual activities they purport to denote.