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Ancient Literature and Thought

Current Research in Ancient Literature and Thought

  • Emmanuela Bakola works primarily on Greek theatre (tragedy, comedy and satyr plays). She is the author of Cratinus and the art of comedy (Oxford, 2010) and co-editor of Greek comedy and the Discourse of Genres (Cambridge, 2013), both of which explore the relationship between ancient comedy and other literary genres, and pursue methodological questions of working with fragments. More recently, she has focused her attention on space in Greek tragedy, and has worked on Greek religion and on the intersection of classics and anthropology. Dr Bakola is currently finishing a monograph entitled Cosmological imagination in Aeschylus' Oresteia: The Erinyes and the Economy of the Cosmos, which is a re-reading of the Oresteia in light of early Greek views about the cosmos as an economic and biological equilibrium. It is informed by theoretical work on space and performance theory as well as cognitive metaphor.
  • Alison Cooley's research has recently explored literary approaches to epigraphy, analysing how Genette's theory of paratexts can be applied to the Res Gestae and the Senatus Consultum de Cn Pisone Patre. She has interests in bilingualism and translation theory, as presented in her work on the Res Gestae, which tackles the fundamental problem of how the text translated into Greek makes sense within its provincial contexts. She studies the interaction of literature and epigraphy as part of an exploration of the emergence of early imperial ideologies, and is intending to pursue in more detail her work on the SCPP over the next couple of years, which will include detailed analysis of the inscription and Tacitus' response to the trial of Piso in Annales 3. She is also interested in Roman historiography and the construction of the past via monumenta, both literary and epigraphic. She has supervised MAs on Suetonius and the Representation of barbarians in Roman historiography.
  • David Fearn works on the poetics, aesthetics, and social-political contextualizability of archaic and classical Greek literature, with a principal interest in the experiential challenges posed by Greek lyric poetry, in such a way as to enable rethinking, from within via close reading, of the nature of both the classical and classical reception for today and for the future. He has been publishing on Pindar and Bacchylides in particular for over two decades. His most recent full-scale monograph, Pindar's Eyes: Visual and Material Culture in Epinician PoetryLink opens in a new window (Oxford University Press, 2017), has sought to reorient debate about art and text, and the relation between lyric form and lyric contextualization, within Pindaric poetics. He has also published a book-length survey of trends in the history of modern scholarship on Greek lyric, inaugurating Brill's new Research Perspectives in Classical Poetry series: Greek Lyric of the Archaic and Classical Periods: From the Past to the Future of the Lyric SubjectLink opens in a new window (2020). Other recent publications and current projects include studies of the relation between rhetorical and lyric form and content in Gorgias' Encomium of Helen, a study of the relation between Anne Carson, Alice Oswald, classical lyric poetics, and contemporary theoretical approaches to literary formalism, and phenomenologically and ecocritically informed readings of Pindaric imagery. David collaborates with a group of colleagues in the UK, Europe, and North America to foster comparative approaches to the poetics of Ancient Greek literature, in ways that engage directly with contemporary trends in critical theory and aim to transcend the kinds of historicist approaches often prioritised in the 1990s and 2000s. Further areas of interest include classical Greek historiography; the cultural history of modern papyrological discoveries of Greek literature; and the relation between 'art' and 'text', from antiquity right into the contemporary world. He is always on the look-out for new ways to stretch beyond and challenge established preconceptions about the nature of the classical and the possibilities of approaching it.
  • Elena Giusti is broadly interested in Roman literature and thought, with a specialism in Augustan literature and Virgil in particular. She has published articles and book chapters at the junctures between traditional philology, cultural and intellectual history, and literary theory, with special interests in ideology critique, postcolonial studies and feminist theories. She has worked extensively on representations of Africa and African people in Greco-Roman literature. Many of her publications, and especially her first monograph (Carthage in Virgil’s Aeneid: Staging the Enemy under Augustus, Cambridge 2018), map the oft-neglected influence of Carthage in Roman literature and thought, arguing for its significance in wider debates about the role of Greek literature and culture in the formation of Roman identity. She is currently working on a book, entitled Rome’s Imagined Africa, on representations of Africa and Africans in Latin literature of the early imperial period. Together with Rosa Andújar and Jackie Murray, she is currently co-editing the new Cambridge Companion to Classics and Race; with Samuel Agbamu, she is both co-writing a book on Dido and her reception (Dido of Carthage: the Making and Unmaking of a Classical Tradition, Bloomsbury) and a collection of essays on Classics and Italian Colonialism (De Gruyter).
  • Caroline Petit's research is focused on the textual transmission, translation and interpretation of ancient medical texts (in particular Galen and Pseudo-Galenic texts) and on medical rhetoric and pharmacology. Her doctoral thesis was dedicated to the pseudo-Galenic Introductio sive medicus (published in 2009 as Galien. Oeuvres, Volume III: Introduction, ou Médecin, Collection des Universités de France, Les Belles Lettres: Paris) and won two national awards in France (Prix Lantier 2010; Prix Raymond Weil 2010). Following a number of substantial articles on the textual transmission of Galen (particularly his major work on simple medicines, De fac. ac temp. simpl. med.), Galenic pharmacology, Galen’s rhetoric, and late antique medicine, she is now completing several new books: a monograph on Galen’s rhetoric (Galien ou la rhétorique de la Providence: médecine, littérature et pouvoir à Rome, under contract with Brill, Mnemosyne Supplements); a shorter essay on medicine ancient and modern (Medicine: Antiquity and its Legacy. Ancients and Moderns. London: I. B. Tauris); and two edited collections, one on Galen’s newly discovered De indolentia (under contract with Brill, Studies in Ancient Medicine) and one on the formation of the Galenic corpus, focusing on pseudo-Galenic texts (with S. C. R. Swain and K. D. Fischer). As a Wellcome Trust University Award Holder (2013-2018), Dr Petit runs a project on ‘Medical Prognosis in Late Antiquity’. This involves producing the first critical edition of five texts from the Galenic corpus devoted to various aspects of diagnostic and prognostic, together with a monograph on medical prognosis in late antiquity. Dr. Petit’s research interests include the reception of ancient medical authors, especially Galen, in the Renaissance, with special interest in Symphorien Champier, Prospero Alpini, and the “Paris Hippocratics” such as Guillaume de Baillou.
  • Victoria Rimell's research, which spans many different authors and genres, engages critically with major themes in Roman literature and culture and aims to promote dialogue between classical philology and modern philosophical and political thought. Her main focus is Latin literature from the first century BCE to the second century CE, and between 2002 and 2009 she published books on Petronius’ Satyricon, Martial’s Epigrams and Ovid’s erotic poetry (all with CUP). Victoria's 2015 book, The Closure of Space in Roman Poetics (Cambridge), which won an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Prose Awards, investigates the relationship in the Roman imagination between retreat, enclosure or compressed space and the idea of a vast, expanding empire. Victoria has also edited volumes on the ancient novel, on imagining imperial space in Greek and Latin texts, and on Virgil and the Feminine (with Elena Giusti, Vergilius special issue, 2021). More recently, she published a commentary in Italian on Ovid’s Remedia Amoris in the Lorenzo Valla series (2022), which has also been published in English with Oxford University Press (2024). Since 2022, she has held a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for a book project entitled Care of the Other: Seneca and the Work of Mourning. The first research products related to this project include ‘Philosophy’s folds: Seneca, Cavarero and the history of rectitude’, published in 2017 in Hypatia, 'The intimacy of wounds: care of the other in Seneca's Consolatio ad Heuiam', published in AJPh 2020, ‘About face: an inverse archaeology of Seneca Ep.115’ published in LAS 2 (2022): 225-52, and ‘Philosophers’ stone: enduring Niobe’ in A.Benjamin and M.Telò (eds.) 2023, Niobes: Antiquity, Modernity, Critical Theory, OSU Press. She has given papers related to this project at the Cambridge Philological Society, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, NYU, the Cambridge A Caucus seminar, UCL (Housman Lecture, 2024) and Oxford (Fowler Lecture, 2024).

Postgraduate Training

As well as our PhD and MA by Research programmes, we offer a Taught MA in Ancient Literature and Thought .