Illinois State University Speaker Series: Sinclair Bell
Race and Representation in the Roman Empire: African Athletes as Case Study
March 29, Noon
Sinclair Bell is a classical archaeologist and art historian. He is currently associate professor of art history at Northern Illinois University. Bell’s research focuses on the art and archaeology of the Etruscans, spectacles in the Roman imperial period, and the visual representation of slaves and foreigners in Roman imperial art.
Bell will discuss how race and ethnicity were signaled and expressed by artists in the Roman Empire. In particular, he will look at the visual representations of African athletes who competed for glory in agonistic competitions, circus races, and amphitheater combats during the imperial period. The first part of the lecture will survey some of the ways in which African athletes were “imag(in)ed” in Roman art. The second part will consider a few key instances in which modern scholars have misinterpreted that visual evidence, and discuss what these attempts reveal about our own prejudices and misconceptions about the visualization of race and ethnicity in the Roman Empire.
The Illinois State University Speaker Series seeks to bring innovative and enlightening speakers to the campus with the aim of providing the community with a platform to foster dialogue, cultivate enriching ideas, and continue an appreciation of learning as an active and lifelong process. All talks are free and open to the public.