The broadest aim of Fragments is to generate new, integrated ways of thinking about the premodern past. More...
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Volume 8 (2019) Current Issue
Carlos F. Noreña
This study addresses the problem of historical change in a medium-sized town in the provincial backwater of a large, premodern empire. It attempts to illuminate the intersection between sociopolitical order and cultural production, and the mutually constitutive relationship between asymmetric power and translocal culture, in the town of Segobriga in central Spain during the period c. 200 BCE–200 CE, at the height of the Roman empire. It argues that it was the very fact of Roman empire—and, in particular, the specific configurations of power prevailing within it—that drove the widespread replication of a distinctively Roman cultural package in Segobriga, especially in the public sphere (architecture, epigraphy, and coinage), and that can explain the dramatic efflorescence of Roman culture in this unexpected place.
Erin L. Brightwell
This paper challenges common assumptions about textual culture in early China and elsewhere. In place of the usual concentration on literacy, in the sense of an individual’s ability to read and to write, I suggest it is better to think in terms of interaction with text at the level of the community. Interaction with text places the various means of encoding and decoding text on a spectrum of ability that goes from none to a lot, explicitly acknowledging that meaningful intercommunication happens all along the spectrum. Thinking in terms of groups better fits premodern contexts and expands our understanding of how text functioned in those settings.