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Dr Alice König

Lecturer in Latin & Classical Studies
Director of the Centre for the Literatures of the Roman Empire, Admissions Officer

Phone: 01334 462607

Room: S18

Research profile

Research Interests

  • Imperial Latin literature, especially Flavian, Nervan and Trajanic literature 
  • intertextuality and literary interactivity
  • the interface between literature and society, socio-literary interactions
  • intellectual history, particularly ancient technical/scientific writing
  • ancient representations of war, and the reception of ancient military writing in Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance 
  • the Latin exempla tradition and ancient didactic writing
  • ancient biography (especially Tacitus and Suetonius)
  • Roman imperial women (especially Agrippina the Younger).  

Current research

I am writing a monograph which will examine the surviving works of the Roman author and statesman Sextus Julius Frontinus, both for their own sake and as a window onto his world. It will offer new readings of his treatises on Roman land surveying, military tactics and Rome's aqueduct network, and in so doing aims to develop our understanding of Frontinus’ concerns and credentials as a writer, and to expose the extent of his impact upon Roman literary, social and political life. In the process, it will make significant contributions to the study of ancient ‘technical’ writing, ancient categories of knowledge, Domitianic, Nervan and Trajanic politics, and elite identity and aspirations during that period. It will engage with the writings of Martial, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, Aelianus Tacticus, Plutarch, Arrian and Vegetius, among others, and will also examine the mediaeval and renaissance reception of Frontinus (via scholars like John of Salisbury, Christine de Pisan, Jean Gerson and Machiavelli). I have been supported in this project by a two-year Leverhulme Research Fellowship (Sept 2012-August 2014).

In 2012, I was awarded funding by the BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants Scheme to run a collaborative research project entitled 'Literary Interactions under Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian'. This project has brought together many prominent researchers on Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic literature, via a workshop and four conferences (in St Andrews, Rostock, Boston and Exeter). It aims to develop our understanding not just of individual texts but also of the nature and impact of their cross-pollination (within and across genres, and between Latin, Greek, Jewish and early Christian reading and writing communities). The project’s first volume (which I co-edited with Christopher Whitton) is forthcoming shortly, and a second is underway (which I am co-editing with James Uden and Rebecca Langlands). Both will contribute to the wider study of literary communities and cultural interaction across the Roman empire, and both will make significant methodological contributions to the study of intertextuality. 

With my colleague Nicolas Wiater, I am embarking on a new collaborative research project entitled Visualing War On and Off the Page, which will look at the interplay between battle narratives across antiquity and beyond. This project combines my interest in military writing with my interest in intertextuality and literary interactivity. I am engaged in some ongoing research on Vitruvius' De Architectura and its reception. I am also at the start of some research on ancient biography, and on Roman imperial women (particularly Agrippina the Younger). I am a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time programme. Listen to my latest broadcast: 

For the last four years, I have been co-running a pedagogical research project with Emma Buckley, funded by St Andrews University's SELF scheme, entitled 'Latin Language Teaching and the Student Experience'. This project aims to enhance the language learning experience of all Latin students, whatever their background, by re-evaluating their respective needs. By means of questionnaires and diagnostic tests, we have been assessing the linguistic strengths and weaknesses (real and perceived) of students from different educational backgrounds at entry to the first year; and we have continued to monitor their learning and performance in their second and third years. The results of this analysis will enable us to review our teaching and assessment practices across all four years of our Latin and Classics degree programmes so that we can better support and integrate a wide variety of students. It will also aid our efforts to integrate Beginners Latin students with their ‘Advanced’ counterparts from the second year onwards. This project will have implications for the teaching of Latin (and Greek) in other Classics departments at other (particularly Scottish) Universities (where the mix of qualifications is often more pronounced than south of the border).

As a member of the Young Academy of Scotland, I am involved in a range of cross-disciplinary projects which are addressing some of the most challenging issues facing society in Scotland and beyond.

Research Students

  • I am currently supervising PhDs on intertextuality in Statius’ Thebaid and ancient biography.
  • I am happy to supervise in any of the areas listed above under ‘research interests’, and in many other areas in ancient literature and cultural history.
  • I am particularly keen to work with postgraduate research students on topics relating to intertextuality/literary interactivity and on topics relating to the Schools’ new Centre for the Literatures of the Roman Empire, which I direct. 


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For further information on publications, please view my profile on the university's research portal.

Academic career

Undergraduate degree and MPhil: King's College, Cambridge. PhD: St John's College, Cambridge.