Fall 2020

Religion and Violence in the Roman Empire

Listed in: Religion, as RELI-277

Moodle site: Course


Rebecca Stephens Falcasantos (Section 01)


Literature from the later Roman empire abounds with accounts of heightened acts of violence between religious groups: Roman judges torture religious deviants; monks massacre banqueters and destroy temples with their bare hands; Christians clash with each other on darkened city streets; Christians attack Jewish synagogues and festival-goers. What about the late Roman world encouraged such violence? Were some religious groups more or less tolerant than their counterparts? Were incidents of violence primarily rhetorical, or do they reflect the real volatility of social interactions? How might the literary representation of violence be an act of violence itself or encourage physical violence? This course investigates the intersection of violence and religion from the third through the seventh century C.E., paying particular attention to questions of definition, legitimacy, and the interpretation of violent acts. As we explore these questions, we will engage with ongoing theoretical discussions about identity, violence, social performance, and boundary construction. Over the course of the semester, students will compile research portfolios that examine and analyze incidents of inter-religious violence.

Fall Semester. Assistant Professor Falcasantos.


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Research, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020