Editor’s Spotlight: Meet Elizabeth DePalma Digeser, founding editor of Studies in Late Antiquity

This post is part of a series introducing the editors of Studies in Late Antiquity (SLA), our new online quarterly journal scheduled to launch in February 2017. Stay tuned for more Editor’s Spotlights with other SLA editors leading up to the journal launch.


unnamedWe are pleased to introduce Elizabeth DePalma Digeser, Professor of Roman History at UC Santa Barbara, as the founding editor of Studies in Late Antiquity. Having taught at Cornell University, St. Norbert College, and McGill University before joining the UC family, Digeser’s research interests focus on Mediterranean religious and political changes in the late third and early fourth centuries CE, together with the legacy of these developments.

Digeser’s experience and her passion for thinking about the interconnectedness of the Mediterranean with other parts of the late ancient world make her the perfect founding editor of Studies in Late Antiquity, a journal that seeks to foster multi- and interdisciplinary research.

We sat down with Digeser to talk about her research, her vision for Studies in Late Antiquity, and what excites her most about the new journal.

Can you tell us about your research interests and area(s) of expertise?

My research interests have consistently tried to contextualize ideas traditionally seen as philosophical or religious. At first, this effort sought to understand the political, social, and intellectual currents that gave rise to the expression of these ideas in texts and the ramifications that reading these texts might have had. More recently, I’ve also tried to understand how we might broaden our notion of “context” to include the testimony to traditions and practices conveyed by material culture, especially evidence of cultic practice that may elude our textual sources. Increasingly, I’ve also turned for inspiration to anthropological and sociological models of human interactions in borderlands regions in order to ask questions about how and why people define themselves as belonging to particular groups.

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Elizabeth DePalma Digeser, UC Santa Barbara

What drew you to editorship of the journal?

I was drawn to edit Studies in Late Antiquity after many conversations with colleagues at a number of different conferences. We enjoy the methodological diversity of our field, which has long embraced scholars from Archaeology, History, Classics, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Art History. But because of that very diversity we never find ourselves all assembled in one place. A notable exception, of course, are the biennial “Shifting Frontiers” meetings, but as these are themed, they tend not to foster broad conversations (especially as academic travel budgets are increasingly limited to those giving papers). So there has for some years been an expressed need for a forum to which we might all contribute.

At the same time, many of us—in part, perhaps as a result of teaching World History—feel a need to carry forward the call first voiced in Peter Brown’s World of Late Antiquity; that is, to connect the Mediterranean world with the broader late ancient world. Yet, this is something that requires deliberate outreach, even as anecdotally we know that our colleagues working in this chronological period in China, India, or Africa, for example, are also looking to make contact with other regions. It seemed to me, then, that this particular journal was a way to begin to constitute such a group of scholars, to foster the necessary conversations, and thus to stimulate further multi- and interdisciplinary research along the trajectories we all were looking for. If we can start to influence this kind of collaborative research, I’d be very happy.

What sets Studies in Late Antiquity apart from other journals in the field, and what excites you most about the journal?

SLA stands out for several reasons, both of which I find truly exciting: First, it is a unique effort to put in conversation scholarship engaged with “global late antiquity.” Second, its online format will allow us a freedom to do what no other late ancient English language journal does, from publishing high-quality images, to maps, to 3-D projections, to datasets, to video and more.


Want to get more involved in SLA? Here are just a few ways:

  • Submit your papers to SLA. Visit sla.ucpress.edu for more information.
  • Recommend SLA to your institution. Give this Library Recommendation Form to your campus librarian to request that your library pre-order a subscription.
  • Sign up for SLA launch updates! For future updates on the inaugural issue, free sample content, and more, sign up for email alerts at sla.ucpress.edu.

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