ahorbinski: A DJ geisha (historical time is a construct)
Bibliographic Data: Fagan, Garret. Bathing in Public in the Roman World. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999.

Main Argument: Bathing was a social event in the Roman world, and one that stretched across the world in time and in space. Fagan argues that this was "a deeply rooted communal bathing habit, where the act of getting clean has become a social process, to be shared not only with invited guests (in private baths) but with everyone (in public ones)" (1).

Bathing in public in the Roman world )

Critical assessment: This book does what it says on the tin and offers a wealth of interesting tidbits of evidence. I continue to really enjoy Fagan's work; he seems to have both a lively intellectual curiosity and his head screwed on straight, which are not two things that can be said of everyone.

Further reading: Grey, Constructing Community in the Late Roman Countryside

Meta notes: Now I really want to watch Spirited Away and go to an onsen. And also to the baths in Finland and/or Turkey.
ahorbinski: A snakes & ladders board.  (struggle & stagger)
Bibliographic Data: Fagan, Garret. The Lure of the Arena: Social Psychology and the Crowd at the Roman Games. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Main Argument: Any answer to the question of "why did the Romans watch the games?" "requires due consideration of human psychology, once it is properly set against the Romans' historical context" (2). Sociological explanations for the appeal of the Roman games are not enough, as the Romans were by no means the only people to enjoy this kind of spectacle. Fagan argues "that an explanation for the transcultural and transhistorical appeal of violent spectacle must be sought in human psychology and, on the other, that appreciation of the psychology in turn depends our understanding of the Roman experience" (ibid).

Games and why people watched them )
Critical assessment: I really like Fagan's work in general, and this is an excellent book which I basically completely agree with.

Meta notes: "The nexus of patronage, indeed, was pretty much how everything got done in ancient Rome, and the ability to attend games was no exception" (115).

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ahorbinski: shelves stuffed with books (Default)
Andrea J. Horbinski

May 2016

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