Research Interests

Submitted by Christopher S. van den Berg on Thursday, 9/3/2015, at 4:07 PM

My main research fields are:

Greek and Roman Rhetoric    Roman History & Historiography     Literary Reception

Ancient Dialogue                    Literary Criticism and History         Comparative Literature

My first book "The World of Tacitus' Dialogus de Oratoribus" was published by Cambridge University Press in September 2014.

I am currently working on two new books.

The first book is Empire of Eloquence: Roman Oratory and Rhetoric from Cicero to Late Antiquity and is under contract with Johns Hopkins University Press.

Empire of Eloquence will provide a detailed interpretive history of oratory and rhetoric after Cicero, with a particular focus on the receptions of Cicero and on the interrelationship of rhetoric and the imperial dispensation.  This book will challenge (ancient and modern) beliefs in the "decline of oratory" and will examine how the art of rhetoric pervaded nearly all aspects of Roman cultural life.

The second book is Critical Turns: Literary Criticism, History, and Theory at Rome.  The book proposal is currently under review.

This book offers an interpretive survey of Roman discussions of literary criticism and history.  It argues for a close and essential interrelationship of “primary” and “secondary” poetics in the Roman tradition, that is, that an author’s explicit discussion of how to judge and categorize literature (secondary poetics) can only be understood in light of the employment and manipulation of literary values within that same author’s text (primary poetics).  It covers the major figures in Greek and Latin from the 2nd century BCE to the 2nd century CE, as well as the central themes (decline, Atticism/Asianism, evolution and the plastic arts) and main vocabulary of criticism (nature, artistry, talent, judgment, labor, and intention).

Future projects include a book on the history of dialogue argumentation and its reception from Antiquity to the Renaissance.  This work examines how the formal elements of literary dialogues reflect the epistemological and ethical values and constraints with which their authors grappled.  At the broadest level I am interested in how rhetorical understandings of texts and people shape our claims about knowledge and moral agency, and how literature is essential to moral thought.