Carl “CJ” Rice, a History Master’s student who graduated in 2016, has been awarded the Council of Southern Graduate School’s Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award in the Humanities and Fine Arts. CJ’s thesis, Diocletian’s “Great Persecutions”: Minority Religions and the Roman Tetrarchy was completed last spring under the direction of Tom Parker (chair), Julie Mell and William Adler.
CJ first became interested in religious persecution in Tom Parker’s Roman history course. He wrote a research paper which examined the historiography surrounding Diocletian’s “Great Persecution” of Christians in 303/4 CE. As he worked on that project, he realized that, despite the fact that so many scholars had written about Christian persecution, no one had really considered Christians, Jews, and Manichaeans (a religious sect from the East) alongside one another. He wrote a short version of this analysis for Megan Cherry’s Historical Writing seminar and eventually developed it into his thesis topic.
I think it’s especially interesting because it has something to say about the way that a (somewhat) centralized state power uses religion and law to enforce conformity on and to demand integration from its populations. It’s not at all unlike what we see happening throughout history and even into our own world
CJ is now continuing his research into questions about religious identity, toleration and state-sponsored violence in the joint doctoral program in Classics and History at Yale University.
CJ would like to thank William Adler in Religious Studies who helped guide his thesis project at every step as well as Julie Mell who offered invaluable guidance on his chapter on Judaism.