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Durham University

Research & business

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Miss Esther Meijer

Contact Miss Esther Meijer (email at


I completed my BA in Classics at VU University Amsterdam (2012) and hold an MA (research) in Classics and Ancient Civilizations from VU University Amsterdam and UVA University Amsterdam (2015). During my studies, I was actively involved with the departments of Classics, Ancient History, and Archaeology both as a staff assistant and as a student member of the Graduate and Undergraduate Education Committees. Before starting my PhD in October 2016, I briefly trained as a Classics teacher in a Dutch high school and worked in after-school tutoring.

My current PhD research on instances of water as a medium of memory and identity in the early Roman Empire is generously funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Aqua Vitae: Exploring Water as a Medium of Memory and Identity in the Early Roman Empire

My research project is concerned with ancient explorations of what Empire means in the mid-to-late 1st century CE, when the Roman Empire was at its largest and highly occupied with (re)constructing identity in relation to other peoples, remembering the past, and navigating a new political landscape. Following the spatial turn and employing the concepts of memory and identity, I focus on liminal spaces in contemporary literature that engage with the notion of Empire and examine how these spaces shape the remembrance and meaning of individual and collective memories, histories, and identities. As such, my project aims to enhance our knowledge and understanding of Roman remembrance and interpretation of past and contemporary events and their relation to constructions of Roman identity and understanding of Empire.

More specifically, my project aims to show that literary waterscapes are particularly concerned with exploring and (re)fashioning the remembering and meaning of the past in connection with constructions of identity and explorations of Empire. These liminal waterscapes, I suggest, demonstrate contemporary concerns and anxieties regarding the transition from the Julio-Claudian to the Flavian dynasty. They show us how poets and writers navigated a sequence of emperors in a world not only characterized by political insecurity, but also by the decentralization of Rome in an ever-expanding imperium sine fine.


2016: AHRC Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership Scholarship covering tuition fees and full maintenance for three years and six months.


  • Meijer, E. (in press) ‘Justifying Civil War: Interactions between Caesar and the Italian Landscape in Lucan’s Rubicon Passage (BC 1.183–235)’, in Mackie, M., Makins, M. W. and Reitz-Joosse, B. L. (in press) Landscapes of War in Greek and Roman Literature. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Heerink, M. A. J. and Meijer, E. (eds.) (forthc.) Flavian Responses to Nero’s Rome. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. [currently under peer-review]


From June to November 2019, I worked as a collections assistant at Seven Stories: the national centre for children's books in Newcastle (UK). I researched, listed, and catalogued specified archive collections. I also carried out day-to-day tasks, such as supporting the user enquiry service and facilitating researcher visits. Additionally, I supported specific activities such as exhibition installations and learning & engagement events.

This placement was generously funded by the AHRC Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership.

Conference Papers

  • 'Remembering Civil War: Interactions between Caesar and the Italian Landscape in Lucan’s Rubicon Passage (BC 1.183–235)' - Landscapes of War panel at the Celtic Conference in Classics 2017, Montréal. 
  • 'Natura melior potentiorque: Reassessing Domitian in Statius Silv. 4.3' - Un-damning Domitian: Reassessing the Last Flavian princeps panel at the Celtic Conference in Classics 2018, St Andrews.
  • 'Constructing a Road to Eternity: The Via Domitiana as Imperial Propaganda (Stat. Silv. 4.3)' - Workshop on Art and Rhetoric in Roman Literature at the Norwegian Institute in Rome, 1-3 October 2018. 
  • 'Alter Alexander? Domitian and the East in Statius,  Silvae 4.1 and 4.3' - Domitian and the East, Spetses, 30 June - 2 July 2019. 

Workshop Participation

  • Digital Tourism in the Heritage Sector, a workshop in collaboration with Newcastle University, the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome, and the Dutch National Museum of Antiquity, 5-6 March 2020.
  • Democratising Infrastructures, a workshop organised by the Department of Geography at Durham University, 23-24 January 2020.
  • Environmental Humanities and Democracy Workshop, a Northern Bridge Cohort Training Event in Northern Ireland, 13-16 August 2018.
  • Latin Lexicography Workshop at the Thesaurus linguae Latinae Institute in Munich, 30 July - 3 August 2018. 
  • Challenging Eternity: World Heritage, Urbanistic Interventions and the City of Rome, an international graduate course organized by the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome, 19- 29 March 2018. 

Conference Organisation

  • 2020 (upcoming): Organiser of the international PhD & ECR workshop Landscape and Identity: Interdisciplinary Explorations of Being in the World, 26-27 March 2020, Durham University. 
  • 2019: Organiser of the international PhD & ECR conference 'Becoming' and the Roman World, 11-12 September 2019, Durham University.
  • 2016: Organisation team of the international conference Flavian Responses to Nero's Rome, 20-22 January 2016, UVA University of Amsterdam.
  • 2014: Organisation team of the 3rd International Landscape Archaeology Conference, 17-20 September 2014, Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR) and the Swedish Institute in Rome (SIR).
  • 2013-2014: Organiser of biannual Masterclasses in Classics, Ancient History, and Archaeology for high school students, VU University Amsterdam.

Is supervised by