The backbone of research and teaching at the KNIR is the study of the multifaceted legacy of Ancient Rome through the ages. This legacy is of a physical as well as a mythical nature, materializing in two distinct forms of impact and appropriation: one, the concrete, physical places in Rome that have developed into markers of classical identities; and two, the abstract, mental spaces that have constituted classical frameworks for interpreting and remodeling culture and society. The research program Classical Traditions studies this combined legacy from an integrated perspective, focusing on the interaction between tangible heritage and immaterial processes of appropriation.
Key-words: Heritage, classical reception, cultural memory, uses of the past, virtual reconstruction, humanism, enduring values, patterns of innovation
The dual approach of Classical Traditions combines the cultural mapping of specific sites in Rome (such as the Via Appia, the Testaccio neighborhood, Stazione Termini, the church of Santa Prisca and the houses of individual writers) with the analysis of the cultural, political and intellectual uses of the past, from the history of Roman law and Renaissance humanism to twentieth-century identity politics. Reconstructing cyclical patterns of innovation and change, the program thereby takes Rome as a prism to look at the wider issue of canon formation, for example in art history and the history of science. It also takes a critical perspective in analyzing the mechanisms of exclusion and emancipation inherent to the making and adaptation of enduring values. Accordingly, the program considers ‘classical’ to be a multilayered concept that cannot be reduced to a single monolithic tradition. From the conflation of Greek, Egyptian and Asian influences in Roman antiquity to the worldwide propagation of the early-modern papacy and the global claims to heritage in the contemporary world, Classical Traditions highlights the universal dimensions of Rome and its continuing significance in past, present and future.
Aims & collaboration
Classical Traditions forms a broad, comprehensive framework for a range of research projects at the KNIR and its partners in the Netherlands and Italy. It offers an umbrella structure for a variety of topics and approaches from all disciplines in the humanities, connecting history and archaeology with literary and cultural studies and philosophy. It thereby also enables collaboration with other fields, notably law, architecture, and science and technology studies. The program lies at the basis of the teaching program at the KNIR, from the BA-course Roma Caput Mundi to more specialized courses at MA and PhD level. It also aims at heritage valorisation, especially in collaboration with museums and archaeological services in Italy and the Netherlands.
Projects & Results
PhD Student Literary and Cultural Studies RU
Athanasius Kircher’s Latium
PhD student Art History RU
Cultural identity in Late-Antique and Early Medieval Rome
Traineeship History of archaeology
Urban Landscape History of a Roman Rione
Ancient & Modern in Roma Capitale