Theses Doctoral

Forms of Spectrality in Ancient Rome

Crowley, Patrick Robert

This dissertation explores what images of ghosts in Roman art can reveal about the very limits of representation and the act of seeing itself. My approach differs from that of many previous studies on the supernatural, therefore, in that it ultimately has little to do with the question of whether or not the ancients were truly convinced that ghosts exist. While not discounting the importance of belief, I am interested rather in how modalities of belief (or unbelief) developed within a prescribed framework of possibilities--particularly with regard to the historical transformation of ideas about the nature of vision and representation--in which images played a crucial role. While much work has been done on aspects of death that touch upon the supernatural in discrete areas of research on folklore, magic, religion, or theater, for example, the ghost itself has never been the focus of a synthetic study in Roman art. This project is therefore intended to cut across these discussions to arrive at a more rounded picture of how the Romans went on living with the dead.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
De Angelis, Francesco
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 28, 2013