Varro and the late Roman Republic
The first-century BCE polymath Marcus Terentius Varro (intellectual, sparring partner of Cicero, satirist, politician, and more) has been a central focus for my research since 2011, and has produced multiple presentations at conferences, invited lectures, and short publications. The culmination of this project is the monograph Language and Authority in De Lingua Latina: Varro’s Guide to Bring Roman.
Literary Roman landscapes
My interest in the city of Rome in texts inspired me, with Prof. David Larmour (Texas Tech) to develop a volume on the Roman cityscape as a site of knowledge, myth, movement, and satire, where history lies – and lies deeply (The Sites of Rome: Time, Space, Memory). Subsequently, as my interests moved from primarily built to natural topographies, I wrote a book on Roman Landscape. This research strand continues to be lively: it emerges in parts of my work on Varro, and has recently generated a chapter on literary Rome in the Blackwell Companion to the City of Rome.
Language and identities
Language and genre have a strongly placial quality in Latin literary culture, and in ancient studies of memory. I am interested in language structures, vocabulary, and etymology, and while my work on Varro (de Lingua Latina) is the most obvious expression of this interest, I have also written on Horace as a translator, and on genre and identity-politics in Statius. Through approaches such as ecolinguistics, cognitive linguistics, and neurolinguistics I am continuing to explore how language shapes and is shaped by experience, memory, and environment.
*All three of these research strands feed into my current project, Out of Place.
Out of place
My current research investigates what made particular places significant in relation to the bodies (human and other) that defined, occupied, inhabited, and dwelt in them. This means digging into their qualities of lived experience, and the expressions of understanding, emotion, sensation, and knowledge that made certain sites iconic and real in the words of Roman authors of the first centuries BCE and CE.
This enquiry, building on my research expertise, takes shape through a range of disciplinary approaches; it unites (e.g.) ecolinguistics, neuroscience, social geography, discourse analysis, literary criticism, aesthetics (art and architecture, as well as environmental) and history. I am also interested in exploring what constitutes embodied experience in different eras, how and why it is recounted in particular ways in different contexts, and its impact upon those who describe and write down its qualities as well as their impact on audiences.
In forthcoming publications I am already testing some examples, and trying out a range of methodologies. This exploratory work will result in additional case-studies and eventually, a monograph (Out of Place). I will also blog aspects of this research, so that insights into how, where, and why some key sights, featured in ancient texts, can continue to resonate in the real-world experience of visitors and travellers now.