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Ben Salisbury

Classics, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Before Public Opinion: The Role of Tribunes of the Plebs in Creating, Manipulating, and Responding to Popular Sentiment

My project examines the political dialogue between the Roman electorate and the socio-political elite (tribunes of the plebs), who were elected to act in accordance with their will. Throughout the Late Roman Republic (70-49 BC), legislative activity at Rome was remarkably frequent and, due to the political climate, usually intensely contested. These facts are reflected in our primary sources, so it is possible to study closely the wants, needs, and emotions of the Roman electorate, who were, by this time, capable of directly influencing legislation.

The principal objective of my thesis is to understand the relationship between the tribunes of the plebs and public opinion in the Late Republic. In achieving this objective I have several aims: first, to define a Roman Public Sphere (the non-physical space in which public opinion existed); second, to define a Roman Public Opinion; and finally to identify a Language of Public opinion. 

The first year of my PhD sought to develop a Language of Public Opinion, which I could use to interpret instances of public opinion being communicated or spoken about throughout the rest of my thesis. The second year of my PhD has attempted to identify the limitiations on communication and thus to determine the form of the public sphere at Rome and the limits and manner of its functions. 

The remainder of my second year will be spent abroad in Spain and Italy (at the Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Universidad de Zaragoza, and the British School at Rome) collecting and examining primary evidence for interactions between tribunes of the plebs and public opinion and the locations at which these interactions took place. 



Research Area

  • Classics

Publications

Salisbury, B. (2019), 'The Status of Plebiscita 494-287', New Classicists, 1, pp. 41-58.

Conferences

CONFERENCES PRESENTED AT

2019 Spaces of Roman Constitutionalism, University of Helsinki, (26th-28th September 2019), (an international conference for doctoral candidates, early career researchers and senior scholars), Part of the ERC funded 'Law, Governance, and Space: Questioning the Foundations of the Republican Tradition' project. Paper title: 'Defining a Public Sphere at Rome in the Late Roman Republic'.
 

The Popular in Classical Antiquity Graduate Student Conference, University of Pennsylvania (26th April 2019). Paper title: 'Reconsidering the Language of Popular Public Opinion in the Late Roman Republic'.

Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient History, Cambridge (16th March 2019). Paper title: 'Public Opinion in the Late Roman Republic: Public Spirit, Emotional Appeals, and Collective Decision Making'.

2018 Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient History, Birkbeck University of London (17th March 2018). Paper title: 'For the Many (and the Few): The place of the lex Gabinia de bello piratico and the lex Manilia in studying popular sentiment'.


CONFERENCES ORGANISED

2020 (Upcoming) Co-organiser: Cicero Away Day XI, University of Birmingham (June 2020).
2019 Co-organiser: Meaning, Memory, and Movement: Ancient & Medieval Spaces, University of Birmingham (23-24th November, 2019).


Public Engagement & Impact

August 2019 Contributor to University of Birmingham's Outreach project: Classics in the Classroom, led by Dr Theofili Kampianaki. Produced 3 videos for use on OCR and AQA A Level syllabi. Video topics: cursus honorum, bodies of the res publica, and the tribunate of the plebs.
May 2019 The Language of Public Opinion in the Late Republic, Poster presented at the Annual Departmental Colloquium, Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Birmingham.
March 2019 - Present Special Editions Editor for New Classicists Journal.
March 2019 Co-organised the event 'Going abroad for postgraduate research' for PGR students in the College of Arts and Law, University of Birmingham.
Nov 2018 - Present Presentation at the University of Birmingham to prospective PhD students on how to secure a PhD place and apply for PhD funding.
Sep 2016 – Sep 2017 MA Representative on the Student Staff Liaison Committee for the Department of Classics and Ancient History.


Other Research Interests

  • Roman Republican history, Roman Imperial history, Classical historiography, Classical Latin, Political Science.  


Teaching



University of Birmingham

Oct 2019 – Dec 2019

One semester as sole seminar leader for the Level 2 course unit: The Age of Cicero. Responsible for teaching two seminars comprised of all enrolled students, as well as marking formative essays and holding office hours.

 

October 2018 Seminar Leader for the seminar "Classical Historiography" in week 2 of the Level 2 module Ancient and Medieval History in Theory and Practice.

 

University of Manchester

Sept 2017 – April 2018 Acting as a PG mentor for Level 3 students working within the Roman Republic. Responsible for responding to students' queries, advising on specific approaches, and attending group dissertation meetings.
Sept 2017 – Jan 2018 One semester as a seminar leader for the Level 3 course unit: The Early Roman Republic. Responsible for teaching two seminars per week and 40% of the total marking (23/62 students).


Scholarships & Awards



  Arts and Humanities Research Council
Oct 2018 – Sept 2021 Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship: £14,777 per annum, £4,260 tuition fees per annum.
July 2019

Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership Student Development Fund: £4766.13 – to cover my travel, accommodation and stipend extension while undertaking the role of visiting research student at Universidad Pablo de Olavide and Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain (January – March 2020).

Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership Research Training Support Grant: £635 – to attend and present at the conference, Spaces of Roman Constitutionalism, University of Helsinki (September 2019).

June 2019 Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership Cohort Development Fund: £3,828.99 – to organise and host the conference Meaning, Memory, and Movement: Ancient and Medieval Spaces, University of Birmingham, (November 2019).
March 2019 Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership Student Development Fund: £734 – to attend and present at the conference, The Popular In Classical Antiquity, University of Pennsylvania (April 2019).
  The Mrs Anderson Travel Fund (University of Manchester)
Dec 2017 - March 2018 £130 – for attending two conferences (Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient History) in London (Kings College London & Birkbeck University of London).
June 2017 £150 – to attend a two-day workshop on epigraphy, University of Lincoln.
  Others
September 2019 The Classical Association Small Conference Grant: £450 – for the conference Meaning, Memory, and Movement: Ancient and Medieval Spaces, University of Birmingham, (November 2019).
Sept 2016 University of Manchester Alumni Scholarship: £3,000 (fee reduction).


Research Placements


April 2020 -May 2020 (Upcoming)

Enrolled on the annual 'City of Rome Postgraudate Course' at the British School in Rome.

Project Title: Tribunes of the Plebs and the Public Sphere at Rome in the Late Republic.

Course Director: Dr Robert Coates-Stephens

Jan 2020 – March 2020 (Upcoming)

Visiting Research Student (AHRC M4C Research Placement)

Universidad Pablo de Olavide; Universidad de Zaragoza

Project Title: Tribunes of the Plebs and Public Engagements with Public Opinion

Supervisors: Dr Cristina Rosillo-López; Prof. Francisco Pina Polo

 


Employment

Sept 2019 – Nov 2019 Assistant on the AHRC funded project on political oratory, Crisis of Rhetoric (Project Leads: Dr Henriette van der Blom & Prof. Alan Finlayson).