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Dr Rebecca Usherwood

Lecturer in Ancient History

Research profile

Research Interests

  • Late Antiquity
  • Epigraphy (especially Latin imperial)
  • Numismatics
  • The city of Rome
  • Urbanism and regionalism
  • Roman visual culture
  • Political memory
  • Political communication

My research focuses on the political and cultural history of the Roman Empire, particularly the later third to fourth centuries AD. My work is characterised by the combination of literary sources with material evidence, above all inscriptions and coinage, to explore issues of imperial ideology, legitimacy, loyalty, and the communication and experience of secular power.

Current Research

I am currently in the final stages of revising my PhD thesis for publication, with the title Fashioning Oblivion: Political Disgrace and the Constantinian Dynasty. This monograph traces the practices associated with political memory and disgrace (generally called ‘damnatio memoriae’ in modern scholarship), and the role they played in establishing the legitimacy of the reigns of the emperor Constantine and his sons.

My new major research project leads on from my doctoral work, expanding my investigation of political condemnation into a wider and more holistic consideration of the evolving ways in which imperial ideology was disseminated in the light of major structural changes in the Roman Empire, from the mid-second century onwards. As with my monograph, a major element of this will be the use of epigraphic and numismatic evidence to reconstruct a range of local interactions with absent imperial power. The project’s first case study examines how the post-abdication statuses of the ‘emeritus’ emperors Diocletian and Maximian were defined and communicated across geographical space as an unprecedented shift in imperial power.

Academic career

I studied Ancient History and Classics at the University of Nottingham at BA, MA, and PhD level, graduating from the latter in 2015. I taught Greek and Roman History in UCL’s History department and the University of Nottingham’s Classics department, before becoming Lecturer in Roman History at Durham University from 2016-17. I was a residential Roman Awardee at the British School of Rome in 2011-12.

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