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Dr Mara Nicosia

Postdoctoral Research Fellow: BA Newton International Fellow

Postdoctoral Research Fellow: BA Newton International Fellow in the Department of Classics and Ancient History


I am a British Academy Newton International Fellow and I work on the project "The Syriac Rhetorical Tradition between Greco-Roman Paideia and Arabic Aristotelianism" (Co-applicant: Dr. Alberto Rigolio). My project explores how Syriac rhetoric formed and developped and focuses on the ninth-century Syriac treatise "On Rhetoric", written by the teacher Antony of Tagrit. 

Before coming to Durham, I was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Literary Studies at Universiteit Gent, where I worked within the ERC project Novel Echoes, promoted by Prof. Dr. Koen De Temmerman. At Universiteit Gent, I worked on the reception of Greek novelistic tradition in the Near and Middle East, with a primary focus on the Syriac and Arabic worlds, and I co-lectured the course in "Ancient Rhetoric".

I earned my B.A. in Oriental Languages at the University of Catania (2013) and my M.A. in Oriental Languages and Civilizations at the University of Naples "L'Orientale" (2015), where I also earned my Ph.D. in 2020, under the supervision of Prof. Riccardo Contini. I spent the second year of my doctoral program at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE), in Paris. 

My primary focus is the study of Syriac rhetoric, but I am also interested in Semitic languages and the contacts between Greek and various types of Aramaic. In my Ph.D. thesis, I studied the technical vocabulary of Syriac rhetoric between the Greek world and the Arabic reinterpretation, and I created a trilingual comparative lexicon. Meanwhile, I also published on the contacts between Greek and Aramaic varieties (Syriac and Christian Palestinian Aramaic), on the Western Neo-Aramaic dialects and on Syriac Chronicles. My full CV is available here

Watch my research celebration video here: Classics and Ancient History at Durham University | Meet our staff | Mara Nicosia - YouTube


Academic Year 2023/24

CLAS44430: Edessa: The Athens of the East

Research interests

  • Contact linguistics
  • Greek-to-Syriac translations
  • Semitic languages
  • Semitic philology
  • The transmission of Aristotelian philosophy
  • Syriac rhetoric
  • Arabic rhetoric


Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article