An ancient world of manners. A multimodal approach to politeness theory through Greek documentary papyri

Start - End 
2021 - 2024 (ongoing)
Department of Linguistics
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This project (PI: Dr. Yasmine Amory) aims to investigate interpersonal relationships and social interactions in Greco-Roman and Late Antique Egypt (III BCE-VII CE) through Greek documentary papyri. The research will use the linguistic framework of historical politeness, which will be applied in an innovative way, by including a multimodal dimension. In contrast to literary sources, documentary papyri provide a pivotal witness on all social classes, offering a glimpse into daily life. Moreover, since they represent originals, they can be interpreted by considering their external features. The study will focus on a selection of documentary types (private and official letters, orders, petitions, …)  belonging to the city of Oxyrhynchus, one of the most important papyrological sites. It explores how politeness, apart from linguistic formulae and usages, can also be conveyed through the external characteristics of written communication, such as the material and visual aspects of a text, and even through non-verbal and non-tangible communication (e.g. gestures and expressions). The multimodal approach will eventually reshape the traditional focus on polite linguistic conventions.