Color head-and-shoulders portrait of Maggie L. Popkin

Maggie L. Popkin

Andrew Heiskell Rome Prize
January 11–June 14, 2021
Robson Junior Professor, Associate Professor, Department of Art History and Art, Case Western Reserve University
Project title
Souvenirs and the Experience of Empire in Ancient Rome
Project description

My project investigates souvenirs from the Roman Empire commemorating places, people, and events that straddled spheres of religion, spectacle, leisure, and politics. Souvenirs offer a unique resource for exploring the experiences, interests, imaginations, and aspirations of people living in the Roman world beyond elite, metropolitan male authors and moneyers. I argue that souvenirs generated and shaped shared memory and knowledge and constructed imagined cultural affinities across the empire’s heterogeneous population. At the same time, souvenirs strengthened local and regional identities and excluded certain groups from the social participation they afforded so many others. Drawing on a fundamentally multidisciplinary approach, my project demonstrates how souvenirs—affordable, portable, and widely accessible—were critical to shaping how Romans perceived and conceptualized their world and their relationships to the empire that shaped it.