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Emanuel Mayer is an assistant professor of classics at the University of Chicago. His work focuses on classical archaeology and its significance for writing Roman political and social history. He is the author of Rom ist dort wo der Kaiser ist. Untersuchungen zu den Staatsdenkmälern des dezentralisierten Reiches von Diocletian bis zu Theodosius II (Rome Is Where the Emperor Is: State Monuments in the Decentralized Roman Empire from Diocletian to Theodosius II; Verlag des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums, 2002) and of several articles on the political iconography of the Roman imperial period. In his work, Mayer challenges the notion of imperial propaganda and argues instead for a complex system of political interaction between the emperor and diverse constituencies.
While a fellow at Radcliffe, Mayer will write a book on the emergence and cultural significance of the Roman middle classes. Based on a re-evaluation of late Hellenistic/ Roman imperial economy and urbanism, the book will suggest that such middle classes had a profound impact on politics and aesthetics and that Roman art is not an aristocratic but essentially a bourgeois phenomenon that valued atmospheric settings over status display and self-representation.
Mayer received his PhD from Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg in 2001, on a scholarship from the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes. His thesis was awarded a travel prize by the German Archaeological Institute, which entitled him to travel to the ancient world for a full year in 2001–2002. He held positions at Heidelberg and the University of Oxford before moving to Chicago in 2005.