Dr Hannah Cornwell

Dr Hannah Cornwell

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
Lecturer in Ancient History

Contact details

Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Roman political and social history of the Republic and Early Empire, focusing on Imperialism, peace, and diplomacy.

Feedback and office hours

  • Wednesdays 14:00-16:00


  • BA in Literae Humaniores, University of Oxford.
  • MPhil in Ancient Greek and/or Roman History, University of Oxford.
  • DPhil in Ancient History, University of Oxford.


I completed my undergraduate, Masters and Doctorate at Oxford, where I also spent five years as a College Lecturer. As well as teaching I have also been an awardee of the British School at Rome and a research fellow at the University of Warwick, as part of an ARHC-funded project documenting the Ashmolean Museum’s collection of Latin inscriptions. In 2016 I began a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the Institute of Classical Studies, which I transferred to Birmingham in 2017.


I teach several aspects Roman history to both undergraduates and graduates as well as supervising undergraduates and graduates research dissertations.

My undergraduate modules include:

  • First year Project: ‘Augustus: The Man, the Myth and the Making of History’
  • First year module: ‘Introduction to Greek and Roman History’
  • Third year seminar III module: ‘Rome, Social Conflict and Civil War’
  • Third year option module: ‘War, Peace and Diplomacy in the Roman World’
  • First year ‘Widening Participation’ module: ‘Ancient Worlds’
  • Second year module for Ancient and Medieval History: ‘Research Methods’

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome proposals for supervision in any aspect of Roman History, especially political aspects of the Roman Republic and Early Principate, Imperial ideology, International Relations and diplomacy, and interdisciplinary approaches to history and material culture.

Find out more - our PhD Classics and Ancient History  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My research interests focus on socio-political history of the Roman Republic and Empire, with a particular interest in the nature of Roman imperialism, and Roman attitudes towards their position as a political power in the Mediterranean.

My first book, Pax and the Politics of Peace (OUP, 2017), examines the two generations that spanned the collapse of the Republic and the Augustan period in order to understand how the concept of pax Romana, as a central ideology of Roman imperialism, evolved. I argue for the integral nature of pax in understanding the changing dynamics of the Roman state through civil war to the creation of a new political system and world-rule. Roman discourses on peace were part of the wider discussion on the way in which Rome conceptualized her Empire and ideas of imperialism. I have also published papers on the role of peace-makers and heralds in Roman literary accounts of conflict in terms of what this reveals about Roman attitudes to war and peace, and have several papers forthcoming on the language of peace in civil war, and the construction of political opponents as enemies in civil war.

Besides a specific focus on the language of peace, I have also published on the reactions to Roman imperialism, examining the geo-political situation of the western Alps under Augustus, and the elite response to imperial power. 

I held a three year Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (2016-2018), which examined the production of space as a means of understanding diplomacy as a social practice in the Roman world. This study focuses on the architectural and urban spaces of the city of Rome as a site of diplomatic practice, in order to examine the social interactions through which Rome, as a political entity, communicated and maintained its position in the Mediterranean. 

I have been invited to present on my research a number of International conferences and research seminars, and have also contributed to a number of episodes of a BBC Radio 4 history programme (‘When Greeks Flew Kites’).

Other activities


Recent publications


Cornwell, H 2017, Pax and the Politics of Peace: Republic to Principate. Oxford Classical Monographs, Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198805632.001.0001


Cornwell, H 2019, 'Roman Attitudes to Empire and Imperialism: the view from history', Journal of Roman Archaeology, vol. 32, pp. 478.

Cornwell, H 2018, 'Die Pax Romana und die Idee von einem Imperium: Frieden in der römischen Antike', Antike Welt: Zeitschrift für Archäologie und Kulturgeschichte, vol. 2018, no. 3, 3/2018.

Cornwell, H 2018, 'Roman peace and imperialism', Omnibus, vol. 76, pp. 31-32. <https://archive.org/stream/omnibus76_202007/12%20Cornwell%20Roman%20peace%20and%20imperialism>

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Cornwell, H 2020, A Framework of Negotiation and Reconciliation in the Triumviral period. in F Pina Polo (ed.), THE TRIUMVIRAL PERIOD: CIVIL WAR, POLITICAL CRISIS AND SOCIOECONOMIC TRANSFORMATIONS. Libera Res Publica, Prensas de la Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, pp. 149-170.


Cornwell, H 2020, The Production of Diplomatic Space in Ancient Rome. in S Merten & A Haug (eds), Practices in Ancient Public Spaces. vol. Studies in Classical Archaeology, Brepols Publishers, pp. 81-94.

Cornwell, H 2018, The Construction of one's enemies in civil war (49-30 BCE). in R Westall (ed.), A House Divided: The Reality and Representation of Roman Civil War. Trinity College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin.

Cornwell, H 2017, A place for peace in a time of war. in A Burnett & A Powell (eds), Coins of the Roman revolution (49BC-AD14): evidence without hindsight. Classical Press of Wales, pp. 123-144.

Cornwell, H 2017, Negotiating ideas of peace in the civil conflicts of the late Republic. in EP Moloney & MS Williams (eds), Peace and reconciliation in the classical world. Routledge, pp. 86-101.

Cornwell, H 2016, Routes of resistance to integration: Alpine reactions to Roman power . in R Varga & V Rusu-Bolindeț (eds), Official power and local elites in the Roman provinces. Routledge, pp. 52-77.

Book/Film/Article review

Cornwell, H 2020, 'Lange, C. H. and Vervaet, F. J. (edd.) 2019. The Historiography of Late Republican Civil War. Historiography of Rome and its Empire Series. Leiden: Brill. Pp. xiii + 527. ISBN 978-90-04-37359-4. €130/$156. (Cornwell, H. Acta Classica 64)', Acta Classica, vol. 64. <http://www.casa-kvsa.org.za/legacy/AC64-Cornwell-21AUG2020.pdf>

Cornwell, H 2020, 'Review: LUKAS DE BLOIS, IMAGE AND REALITY OF ROMAN IMPERIAL POWER IN THE THIRD CENTURY AD: THE IMPACT OF WAR (Routledge monographs in classical studies). London/New York: Routledge, 2019. Pp. x + 312, maps. ISBN 97808153737. £115.00. EMMA DENCH, EMPIRE AND POLITICAL CULTURES IN THE ROMAN WORLD (Key themes in ancient history). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018. Pp. xiv + 207, illus., map. ISBN 978052100910. £19.99.', The Journal of Roman Studies. https://doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0075435820000350

Cornwell, H 2019, 'Review of Richard W. Westall, Caesar’s Civil War: Historical Reality and Fabrication.', Exemplaria Classica, vol. 23, pp. 359-362.

Cornwell, H 2018, 'Review of Mouritsen, H. (2017); Haake, M. and Harders, A.-C. (eds.) (2017); Wiseman, T. P. (2016)', The Journal of Roman Studies, pp. 200-202. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0075435818000291

Cornwell, H 2018, 'The Legitimacy of Force in a Multipolar World: Review of ÑACO DEL HOYO (T.), LÓPEZ SÁNCHEZ (F.) (edd.) War, Warlords, and Interstate Relations in the Ancient Mediterranean. (Impact of Empire 28).', The Classical Review, vol. 69, no. 1. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0009840X18002287

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