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Maggie Popkin
Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH 44106-4901)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$46,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2017 – 6/30/2018

Object Memory: Souvenirs, Memorabilia, and the Construction of Knowledge in the Roman Empire

A book-length study of ancient Roman souvenirs and memorabilia and their role in constructing knowledge and memory in the Roman Empire.

My project investigates ancient Roman souvenirs and memorabilia and their profound role in generating and mediating memory and knowledge in the Roman Empire. In Rome, where literacy was limited and visual communication was essential, souvenirs were a critical means for conveying complex ideas. The Roman Empire produced a rich range of souvenirs and memorabilia commemorating cities, sporting events, monumental statues, and religious pilgrimages. I examine how such objects constructed knowledge in an era before mechanical reproduction. Without access to print or digital media, many Romans learned about various sites, monuments, and events through images on souvenirs. Souvenirs and memorabilia are thus critical to understanding how ancient Romans conceptualized their world. Their study has broad implications for understanding the social functions of images in antiquity and beyond and is relevant to scholars concerned with visual culture’s impact on memory, perception, and knowledge.