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Department of Greek & Latin

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Research: Historiography

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The Greek and Latin Department's research specialism in historiography encompasses the interpretation of historical writing in its cultural, intellectual and political context, considering issues of power, class politics and imperialism and examining how identities are constructed through the representation of the past. The interrelation between "historical" writing and other forms of literature in the Classical period is also an area of concern, as the analysis of the past is put in the wider intellectual context of ancient attempts to come up with literary forms for analyzing and responding to the world. Central to this approach is the conviction that historical texts need to be taken seriously as texts. The relationship between literary form and political content is a particular focus, with an interest in narratological approaches, especially reader response and the political implication of the reader in the processes of reading. Research strengths include: concepts of Greekness; ethnography and travel writing; the politics of reading; and Xenophon.

We are now offering a new MA module investigating the beginnings of Greek historiography in the 5th and 4th centuries BC in the context of other literary forms, such as elegiac and lyric poetry, tragedy, rhetoric and philosophy. This introductory course, taught in English translation, assumes no prior knowledge of Greek history writing and is aimed at those who are interested in the literature of the Classical period but have not previously studied the development of historical prose. Please see our MA course list for details.

The Greek and Latin Department maintains strong links with colleagues in Ancient History at UCL, with PhD supervision sometimes shared between departments where appropriate, allowing a breadth of perspectives.

Many of the Department's conferences and special lectures organized by staff and postgraduate students contain a historiographic dimension. Weekly seminars on ancient history and on ancient literature are hosted at the Institute of Classical Studies. We welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students in any area of classical historiography and its reception.

Staff whose research interests include historiography:

  • Nikolaos Gonis: Documentary and literary papyrology; Egypt from Augustus to the Abbasids; later Greek poetry; early Christian literature)
  • Rosie Harman: Greek historiography and ethnography; identity; the politics of representation. Phiroze Vasunia: Greek literature and culture; imperialism and colonialism; the Classical tradition; conceptions of Greek prose; cross-cultural interaction in antiquity.
  • Phiroze Vasunia: Greek literature and culture; imperialism and colonialism; the Classical tradition; conceptions of Greek prose; cross-cultural interaction in antiquity
  • Maria Wyke: Julius Caesar; film as history.

For current PhD students whose research includes Historiography see the list of PhD research projects

Research projects and networks