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Hellenistic Literature, History, and Culture

The Hellenistic Period has been a longstanding focus of interest for the Classics Department at Groningen. The biennial Groningen Workshops on Hellenistic Poetry, founded in 1992, have long formed a landmark in the discipline, supported by the volume series Hellenistica Groningana. The theme for 2023 was Hellenistic Poetry beyond Alexandria. 

Apart from taking an active role in the organisation of these conferences and editing the resulting volumes, Jacqueline Klooster works on Hellenistic poetry; her interests include epigram and the sociology of literature in the Hellenistic period: how did authors interact and position themselves within or outside of the courtly surroundings they were working in? Besides, she has published widely on the narratological analysis of space, time, speech and the emotions in the works of Theocritus, Apollonius of Rhodes and Callimachus. 

Leanne Jansen works on a project which contextualizes rhetoric and historiography produced in the Hellenistic areas of the Roman empire as part of a broader process of cultural assimilation between Greek and Roman culture and political participation in the Roman government.

Besides its literature, the religious and ritual life of this period also forms a focal point of research in Groningen, for instance in Christina Williamson’s research. Her work examines the pivotal role of non-urban sanctuaries for emerging cities in Hellenistic Karia, using a framework analysis that draws among others on memory studies, cognitive ritual approaches, network analysis, and visual analyses. Her project Deep-mapping sanctuaries as festival hubs examines how these networks played out on the ground at sanctuaries, in space and over time. She co-directs with Onno van Nijf the project Connecting the Greeks with a focus on festivals and network analyses. Onno van Nijf also works on the political and cultural history of the Greek world in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, in particular through the window of epigraphy. 

The Hellenistic (and Roman) periods are a focus of archaeological research in Groningen, by both Sofia Voutsaki and Lidewijde de Jong and their teams, although the emphasis is more on social history, mostly approached by means of mortuary analysis, (funerary) epigraphy and iconography, as well as the study of human remains (Anna Moles’ specialization) which can give us insights into the society of the living (social structure, lifestyles, diet, mobility, etc.) and the dead (attitudes to death, ideas about afterlife).    

Last modified:09 November 2023 10.40 p.m.