The Society for Classical Studies has awarded Amy Richlin, UCLA distinguished professor of classics, a C.J. Goodwin Award of Merit for her book “Slave Theater in the Roman Republic: Plautus and Popular Comedy.”

In this work, Richlin focuses on telling the histories of outgroups and minorities in the Roman empire such as women, slaves, sexual minorities and indigenous peoples. She examines the problems inherent in writing the lives of people who left few records for themselves. Her book “Slave Theater in the Roman Republic: Plautus and Popular Comedy” looks specifically at slavery and human trafficking in early Roman comedy.

In “Slave Theater in the Roman Republic: Plautus and Popular Comedy,” she rewrites the history and meaning of the fabula palliata, a genre of Roman drama that consists largely of Romanized versions of Greek plays. The palliata gave the slave, the freed slave, and the wretchedly impoverished free citizen a chance to act out the open secrets that possessed them, through double entendre, irony, verbal duels, slapstick, role reversals and knowing asides to the audience — and a little song and dance. This was their opportunity to speak shtick to power and and they do so with a will, giving us glimpses of their dreams of home and freedom.

The Charles J. Goodwin Awards of Merit are three prizes given annually for an outstanding contribution to classical scholarship published by a member of the society. They are the only honors for scholarly achievement given by the society. The works chosen to receive the award may be books, monographs, or articles, provided that they have not appeared in substantially the same form in earlier publications.