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Research at St Andrews

Alice Rebecca König

Person

Alice Rebecca König
Postal address:
School of Classics
Swallowgate
The Scores
St Andrews
United Kingdom

Email: arw6@st-andrews.ac.uk

Web address: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/classics/staff/arw6/

Direct phone: +44 (0)1334 462607

Research overview

Alice's research falls into three distinct areas: intellectual history/the history of science; intertextuality and socio-literary interactions; battle narratives and the representation of war.

At present, her work is particularly focused on the social construction of expertise in ancient and modern cultures. She has published on a range of ancient ‘technical’ treatises and is currently writing a monograph on the author and statesman, Sextus Julius Frontinus. His surviving treatises on Roman land surveying, Rome’s aqueduct network and military tactics shed important light on the currency, presentation and functioning of different kinds of knowledge in the Roman world. They also offer a valuable opportunity for us to re-examine ancient attitudes to what we today call ‘technical’ writing. In fact, her study of Frontinus’ works and their socio-political context will question traditional scholarly assumptions about genre, reading habits and the very definition of ‘literature’ itself.  

Alice's work on Frontinus has led to some wider study of Flavian, Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic literature. In particular, she has recently led a ground-breaking project looking at literary and cultural interactions in the first-second centuries CE. Begun in 2011, the ‘Literary Interactions’ project has now produced two field-changing volumes: one (co-edited with Christopher Whitton) focused on Latin literary and socio-literary interactions, 96-138 CE; and the other (co-edited with Rebecca Langlands and James Uden) looking at cross-cultural interactions between different communities of readers and writers in the Roman empire, 96-235 CE. The aim in both volumes has been to refresh intertextuality studies by experimenting with new ways of articulating and studying intertextuality, interdiscursivity and cultural interactions. Both contribute to the wider study of literary communities and cultural interaction across the Roman empire and both make significant methodological contributions to the study of intertextuality in multiple disciplines.

This work has paved the way to her latest collaborative research project (with Nicolas Wiater), entitled ‘Visualising War: interplay between battle narratives in ancient and modern cultures’. The aim of this project is to explore the ways in which interplay between battle narratives has helped to canonise ideas about war/conflict across time and space. Taking ‘narrative’ in the broadest sense of the word, the project looks at visual representations, epigraphic evidence and cultural memory/oral traditions as well as written texts, with a view to understanding the evolution of discourses of war within and between different communities. A forthcoming volume will focus on interplay between battle narratives in antiquity (from 9th c. BC-6th c. AD, covering near-Eastern, Jewish, early Christian and Greco-Roman material), while a series of conferences, internships and outreach projects have been laying the groundwork for some publications on interplay between ancient and modern battle narratives. 

One strand of research that connects this military material with Alice's interest in intellectual history is the work she has been doing on ancient military manuals and their later reception in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (in the works of, e.g., John of Salisbury and Christine de Pizan). She is particularly interested in tracing models of ‘strategic thinking’ as they evolve or are shaped across space and time. She has also been looking at the kinds of military expertise attributed to women in antiquity, for example in the works of Plutarch and Polyaenus. 

In addition to the projects mentioned above, Alice has published on Vitruvius’ De Architectura; Martial, Epigrams10; Tacitus’ Agricola; Pliny the Younger’s Letters Bk 10; the Tactics of Aelianus Tacticus and Arrian; the didactics of the Latin exempla tradition; and Roman civil war. She has also pursued some pedagogic research (with Emma Buckley) on Latin language teaching, focusing particular on the student experience. She has contributed several times to BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time programme, and is regularly commissioned to write more ‘popular’ pieces (e.g. programme notes for the Baverian State Opera’s recent production of Handel’s Agrippina; entries for exhibition catalogues; articles for Ancient Warfare Magazine and The Scotsman). As a member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland Alice is involved in a range of cross-disciplinary projects that are addressing some of the most challenging issues facing society in Scotland and beyond (for example, on the principles for Responsible Debate); these draw on and feed into her academic research. 

PhD research projects available

Projects relating to intertextuality/literary interactions; Nervan/Trajanic/Hadrianic literature; Visualising War

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