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Research at St Andrews

Tom Alexander Geue

Person

Tom Alexander Geue
Postal address:
School of Classics
Swallowgate
The Scores
St Andrews
United Kingdom

Email: tag8@st-andrews.ac.uk

Direct phone: +44 (0)1334 462614

Research overview

Research Interests

  • Imperial literature from c. 40 BCE to c. 200 CE, mainly Latin, Greek on a good day
  • Roman satire
  • Anonymous texts, literary and less literary
  • Marxist criticism
  • Classical reception, esp. in high modernism, and contemporary women’s writing
  • History of classical scholarship and its relationship with the political left
  • Historicism, formalism, and the various conflicts within each
  • Intertextuality and its limits
  • Autobiography and self-fashioning
  • History of literary criticism in 20th century, esp. the fortunes of ‘close reading’
  • Working with uncertainty

 

Current and Future Research

 

Anonymities

My research grows from the problems and possibilities of historicism, in all its many stripes. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I deal with the question of texts which lack secure authorship and context, and so have repeatedly resisted the historicist methods rolled out in mainstream classical scholarship. Rather than fix these anonymous texts in time, place, or person, I have tried to come up with new ways to read their anonymity as crucial to their ‘being’, and fundamental to their strange effects of heightened universality; to take their anonymity as an opportunity, not an obstacle, if you will. I tested this out in a monomaniacal close reading of the satires of ‘Juvenal’, which became my first book Juvenal and the Poetics of Anonymity (Cambridge, 2017). I’ve extended the approach to other texts, while also upping the ferocity of the claim, in my most recent book project Author Unknown: Anonymity in Ancient Rome (Harvard UP, 2019). This book ranges across anonymities, from the suppression of names within texts such as Ovid’s Ibis, to poems seeking to carve out space in multiple temporalities (e.g. Calpurnius Siculus, the Laus Pisonis), to texts whose anonymity gives them an authority booster to their political power (e.g. OctaviaApocolocyntosis). The bigger purpose is to practise a kind of literary scholarship that is alive to both historical and reception contexts, them and us, simultaneously.

 

Marxish criticism and Latin literature

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I try to help Latin literary studies get to a place where the ‘political’ is understood as something beyond intra-elite powerplay, and get things moving more in the tradition of Marxish criticism or ‘cultural materialism’. I recently published a close reading of Virgil Georgics 4 (JRS 2018), which reads the book (and poem) as a means of naturalising the logics of slavery and imperialism that marked its making: i.e., forcing others to do the hard work for you, and pretending that’s what they want. Further down this track, I'm currently at work on another long article which reads the explosion of brevitas in 'Tiberian' literature (broadly conceived, incl. Phaedrus, Velleius Paterculus, Ovid's Fasti and Valerius Maximus) as something detonated by the self-curtailing and time-conscious experience of slavery. 

 

Collaborations

I invent days that don’t exist to work on collaborative projects with brilliant colleagues, which stand at various oblique angles to my research. I’m working on an edited collection with Elena Giusti (Warwick), which features a crack team of scholars, emerging and established, to track the themes and devices of ‘absence’ in Latin literature and its reception (Unspoken Rome: Absence in Latin Literature and Its Reception, forthcoming with CUP 2021). I’m also working with Claire Jackson (Ghent) and Fran Middleton (Cambridge) on another edited collection that will help us rethink the literary dynamics of the Roman Empire beyond the standard holy trinity of author, reader, and text (The Medium of Empire: Unstable Text in Rome's Imperial Literature).

 

Futures: Sebastiano Timpanaro

At night, I dream of the future: a project of intellectual history called Major Corrections: the Materialist Philology of Sebastiano Timpanaro, for which I have been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for 2021-22. Sebastiano Timpanaro (1923-2000) was one of the great post-WWII European intellectuals, making a host of disciplinary-shifting and -transcending contributions in the fields of classical philology, Marxist theory, Freudian psychoanalysis, and Italian literature. Timpanaro is now almost forgotten in the anglophone world, a side-effect of disciplinary fragmentation. This will be the first major study to bring Timpanaro the philologist together with Timpanaro the political theorist, to show more broadly how each discipline can illuminate and electrify the other.

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