1st International Conference of the Research Network ‘Imperium & Officium’


"Official Epistolography and the Language(s) of Power"

10.-12. November 2010

Mentalities of imperial government and bureaucracy are most vividly reflected in official correspondence. Letters of this genre do not simply reveal the rhetorical and linguistic aspects of the ‘language(s) of power’ which connect officials to their own superiors as well as to subordinates, thus defining their radius of operation. They also give an idea of the officials’ personal and collective identities. These identities were evoked by integration into a network of administrative hierarchies, resulting in a sharing of responsibilities and helping to foster and transmit a common cultural, social and economic background. This theme is of direct relevance to some of the research network’s principal concerns, in particular: the question of administrative structures and procedures relying on specific channels and modes of communication; the development of a rationalised administration (in a Weberian sense) which replaced more traditional networks based on personal relations; the correlation between daily administrative practice on the one hand and elaborated imperial ideologies on the other, and, in general, ‘language(s) of power’ as a manifestation of bureaucratic behaviour and consciousness.

Veranstaltungsleiter: Dr. Sven TOST