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Fragmentary modernisms

Fragmentary modernisms: The classical fragment in literary and visual cultures, 1896–1950

This AHRC-funded project takes as its starting point the crucial realisation that the period in which some of the most radical literary and visual experimentations with fragmentation took place also witnessed a series of paradigm-shifting developments in the discovery and dissemination of classical antiquity in fragments. Bringing together archaeology, museology, philology and epigraphy with modern literature and art, it provides the first integrated picture of the combined impact of classical scholarship on the literary and visual aesthetics of modernism and its legacy. Dr. Nora Goldschmidt is the Principal Investigator.

Fragmentary Modernisms webpage

Attic inscriptions

This AHRC-funded project (a collaboration between Durham, Cardiff, and Manchester Universities) aims to locate, edit and publish all 250 inscriptions from ancient Athens and Attica which are now in the UK. The inscriptions are scattered across museums and private collections throughout the UK; most have not been studied for over 100 years. We are producing new texts of each inscription, together with translations and scholarly commentaries. The inscriptions are also being made freely available on the website Attic Inscriptions Online, with notes aimed at school and university students and museum visitors. Prof. Polly Low is a Co-Investigator.

Attic inscriptions website

AIUK papers

Ancient letter collections

This AHRC-funded project (a collaboration between Durham and Manchester Universities) will produce two books:

(i) a critical review of all the surviving (Greek and Latin) letter collections up to about 410 CE and

(ii) a synchronic monograph surveying the collections from a number of different perspectives. We have identified just over 50 letter collections for inclusion. The project is moving into the final phase of work on the critical review and is producing draft entries of about 4,000-6,000 words on each of the letter collections. Prof. Roy Gibson is the Principal Investigator.

Ancient letter collections webpages

The Religious Life of Dura-Europos

The project concerns a comprehensive study, to be published as a monograph, of the religious life of Dura-Europos, a small-town on the Euphrates river in the Parthian and Roman periods known amongst scholars as the ‘Pompeii of the Syrian desert’ for the richness of its finds. A detailed and systematic study of the various temples, cults, deities and worshippers in Dura will have invaluable implications for our understanding of religious life outside the main cult centres, and will provide a methodological framework for the study of cultural life in the small-towns of the Roman provinces more generally.

“The Religious Life of Dura-Europos” webpages

Durham-Tübingen collaborations

Building on their collaborations through the Matariki Network, Durham and Tϋbingen Universities have established a seedcorn fund to support joint research. Through a competitive process, Durham and Tϋbingen Universities jointly advertise, select and fund research projects, seeking to extend the longstanding ties between Tϋbingen and Durham. The Department of Classics & Ancient History currently features two projects funded by the scheme. Find out more about the scheme.

Project academy

Project Academy is a partnership of scholars based in Durham and Tϋbingen, with the aim of developing a major initiative in the study of the Platonic tradition. At the heart of this project will be a series of critical editions, English and German translations, and commentaries of the fragments (and testimonies) of the members of Plato’s Academy (ca. 380–266 BCE). The Durham contribution is led by Dr. Phil Horky. 

DCAMP: Project Academy

Latin text collections

“Without order or narrative? Reading Latin text collections from late roman republic to the early middle ages” is a partnership of Latin scholars based in Tübingen and Durham, that examines strategies used to design ancient and early Medieval Latin text collections. The non-chronological or apparently random ordering of these texts have given rise to the modern assumption that as collections they lack significance. Such collections stretch from the poetry of Catullus and the Ad familiares of Cicero to legal compilations, speeches and panegyrics, specialist or antiquarian literature as well as biographies and hagiographies. The project seeks to re-evaluate these collections and the assumption that they are the product of untalented or uninterested compilers. The Durham contribution is led by Prof. Roy Gibson. 

Without Order or Narrative? Reading Latin Text Collections from Late Roman Republic to the Early Middle Ages ('LTC project'): A Tübingen-Durham Cooperation

Selected Past Projects

The Spatial Turn in Roman Studies 

From the Mediterranean to the cubiculum, epic travels to artefact distributions, and spatial syntax to proxemics, the spatial turn has been felt across the study of the ancient world. A series of events in 2019-20 will reflect on a generation’s worth of work on the spatial turn in Roman studies and seek out the best new scholarship arising from it. The goal of our programme of events is a double one: first, to gain an overview of the directions research has taken, identify underlying themes and trends, and describe successful spatial methodology as a guideline for future work; second, to move beyond what has been done and explore the full potential of spatial approaches, especially by bringing together work that has taken the same body of spatial theory in different directions. 


We the People 

“The people” are sovereign; “the people’s will” must prevail; but who are “the people”? Who gets to belong to this group, and who decides? How do individuals coalesce into a collective “people”, and what other communities are formed in the same way? This project, drawing on Durham’s strengths in Classics, Law, Human Geography, Politics, and History, investigates how individuals come together to form communities which are legal or social entities in themselves. 


Living Poets: A New Approach to Ancient Poetry 

The aim of this project is to develop a new approach to classical poetry, based on how listeners and readers imagined the Greek and Roman poets. From antiquity to the present, people have produced a vast range of narrative and visual representations of the ancient poets, drawing from three main sources: their understanding of classical poetry, other representations, and their own personal, lived experience. The main contention of this project is that representations of the ancient poets tell us something crucial – not about the actual poets of Greece and Rome, but about their readers. The project is directed by Prof. Barbara Graziosi and funded by the European Research Council.