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Durham University

Department of Classics and Ancient History

The Spatial Turn in Roman Studies

The Durham conference has been postponed until the autumn. More details will be provided as soon as we know them.

Site of the temple of Hercules Victor, Tivoli

About the project

From the Mediterranean to the cubiculum, epic travels to artefact distributions, and spatial syntax to proxemics, the spatial turn has been felt across the study of the ancient world. A series of events in 2019-20 will reflect on a generation’s worth of work on the spatial turn in Roman studies and seek out the best new scholarship arising from it.

Grave stele in the form of a door

The goal of our programme of events is a double one: first, to gain an overview of the directions research has taken, identify underlying themes and trends, and describe successful spatial methodology as a guideline for future work; second, to move beyond what has been done and explore the full potential of spatial approaches, especially by bringing together work that has taken the same body of spatial theory in different directions. The most pressing divide we see is between work on historical and archaeological space on the one hand, and imagined and literary space on the other: they represent two well-developed bodies of scholarship in Roman studies, both often drawing on the same set of 20th-century spatial theory, but not often in conversation with each other. Could more be done to bring them together and pool their insights, or does the problem lie in the way the underlying spatial theories fail to bring together real and imagined space?

Organisers and funding

The project is organised by Amy Russell (Durham) and Maxine Lewis (Auckland). We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Leverhulme Trust (Philip Leverhulme Prize) and the Durham Department of Classics and Ancient History (the departmental annual research theme).

Code of Conduct

A code of conduct applies to all project events. Participants will be asked to agree to it when registering for the conference.

Wall painting showing villa landscape


Auckland conference, January 22-24 2020

Durham conference, June 9-12 2020 ***POSTPONED***

Research seminars in Durham, as part of the Classics and Ancient History seminar series

Lisa Landrum (Manitoba), 28 November 2019

Hans Beck (Münster), 27 February 2020

Christy Constantakopoulou (Birkbeck), 5 March 2020 ***CANCELLED***

Paul Kosmin (Harvard), 12 March 2020 ***CANCELLED***

Seminars take place at 5pm in the Department of Classics and Ancient History, Durham.