Research Interests

Submitted by Christopher S. van den Berg on Monday, 7/29/2013, at 4:24 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" will be published by Cambridge University Press in Spring/Summer 2014.

I am currently working on a second book, The Critical Turn: Literary Criticism, History, and Theory at Rome.

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).

In addition, I have a particular soft-spot for imperial (i.e. post-Ciceronian) oratory and rhetoric, and the employment of rhetoric across genres (especially in poetry).  Future projects include a Latin text with English translation of Pseudo-Quintilian's Major Declamations, and, in the long term, 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.