Assistant Professor of Classics Marcus Folch was selected for a Heyman Center Fellowship for 2016-17.
The fellowship is funded by The Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia and provide faculty the opportunity to work on research projects and to participate in the Heyman Center Fellows Seminar.
The project Professor Folch will be working on while on fellowship at the Heyman Center will be the first major study of bondage, incarceration, and the prison in ancient Greece and Rome. This book explores the history of incarceration through the lens of ancient law and philosophy, and it contextualizes the history of the prison alongside forms of bondage that are often overlooked in studies of incarceration in antiquity (e.g., slavery, debt bondage, and execution). It departs from earlier studies of the ancient prison by concentrating not only on the historical reconstruction of the ancient prison, but also on the literature of incarceration; and it traces a literary tradition, which appears as early as Archaic Greek poetry and spans into early Christian hagiography, in which the prison becomes a site of political dissent, a space to critique, and articulate values antithetical to, the dominant cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. Its chief contribution is to propose a new interpretive framework for understanding the political function and sociology of incarceration in antiquity, arguing for the centrality of the prison in ancient notions of sovereignty and restoring a neglected institution to a central place in ancient Greco-Roman literature and history.