Various teaching projects are being developed in connection with the Visualising War research project, at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
In 2019, we were awarded PhD funding via a World-Leading Scholarship for a project entitled ‘Death’s Grey Land’? A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Death in Battle in Graeco-Roman Literature and Culture. This PhD scholarship was awarded through a competitive selection process, with the successful candidate beginning in August/September 2020.
It is through the death of their soldiers that communities experience the reality of war most immediately. This is even more true for antiquity than the modern world, where armies consisted of citizens, fathers, sons, friends and neighbours, not professional soldiers. The fundamental importance of death in battle to ancient Greeks and Romans manifested itself in the plethora of different media in which they reflected on the topic. In epic poetry, vase paintings, historical narratives, public paintings, sculptures, in the private as well as the public sphere, death in battle was one of the most powerful and most densely represented cultural discourses in the Graeco-Roman world.
However, no attempt has ever been made to explore this fundamental cultural discourse systematically in its multi-medial complexity. On the contrary, modern scholarship on the subject is fragmented, with individual publications typically focusing on specific genres or single authors. Ancient viewers did not read literary depictions of death in battle in isolation from the depiction of deaths on monuments, vases, inscriptions and paintings. In tracing the ways in which Greeks and Romans negotiated representations of death in battle across different media and in different times, places and contexts, this doctoral project will explore, for the first time, ancient attitudes to death in battle holistically and systematically, as a multi-medial and trans-cultural discourse.
This project and its methodology result from the ongoing Visualising War project run jointly by the two supervisors, as well as Alice König’s Literary Interactions project. Both projects have demonstrated that bringing texts of different media into dialogue with each other is essential not only to producing novel interpretations of individual texts but also to understanding texts as parts of larger cultural discourses. By applying this innovative methodology, the successful candidate will be trained to explore the ways in which narratives in all sorts of textual and visual media dialogued with each other, canonizing ideas and shaping discourse. This inter-medial approach will be complemented by an inter-cultural one: representations of death in battle were, from the beginning, bound up with engagement with those discourses in different cultures. Greek influences on Rome and vice versa are paramount, but both also entered into productive dialogue with Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern discourses.
The project will focus on particularly significant case-studies which will be carefully selected by the candidate in close collaboration with the supervisors. Visualising War has already produced the first-ever multi-medial database of representations of battle across different ancient cultures, which awaits systematic analysis. This project will capitalize on this existing resource, giving the successful candidate readily-available material on which to draw as well as a rigorous methodology already developed by König and Wiater.