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About us How to find us dr. B.L. (Bettina) Reitz-Joosse

dr. B.L. Reitz-Joosse

Associate Professor of Latin Language and Literature
dr. B.L. Reitz-Joosse

Building in Words

I am currently finishing a monograph based on my dissertation (Building in Words: Representations of the Process of Construction in Latin Literature), which will be published by Oxford University Press. I analyse literary texts of the early empire (both poetry and prose) which describe the process of construction, placing them in dialogue with contemporary epigraphic, architectural and artistic material. I argue that representations of the creation of architecture are crucial to understanding the aesthetics of both architecture and literature in ancient Rome. In the future, I aim to build on this research with further work on the literary aspects of Vitruvius’ De Architectura and, more broadly, on the ancient aesthetics of processes of craft and production.

Fascist Latin

I also have an active research project in the field of Classical Reception Studies. Together with my colleague Dr. Han Lamers (Oslo), I work on Latin texts written and published in Fascist Italy. In libraries and archives in Italy we have uncovered a large number of prose and verse texts written in Latin on Fascist themes. In recent publications, we have explored what it meant to write in Latin during the ventennio fascista, arguing that Latin functioned not only as the language of Fascist romanità, but also as a modern and a specifically Fascist language, as a national and an international language, and as the language of Italian imperialism. Most recently, we have published the edited volume Studies in the Latin Literature and Epigraphy of Italian Fascism (Leuven University Press, 2020). 

In 2016, we  published an edition, commentary, and translation of the most important of the Fascist Latin texts we have so far discovered: Aurelio Amatucci’s Codex fori Mussolini, written on parchment and deposited under the obelisk at the Foro Italico in Rome in 1932. We argue that the Codex was intended for rediscovery in the distant future, when it would help shape the future reception of Italian Fascism. The Codex Fori Mussolini: A Latin Text of Italian Fascism was published by Bloomsbury in August 2016. Watch a short video about our work on the Codex here.

The project is currently being continued as part of the NWO Gravitation programme Anchoring Innovation. Under our direction, PhD candidate Nicolò Bettegazzi (since 2018) and a postdoctoral researcher (from 2021) investigate the role of the ancient languages in Fascist regimes. As part of this project, we are also producing a digital edition of Fascist Latin texts, in close collaboration with the University of Oslo. See for more information our project website

Landscapes of War 

In 2015, I was awarded a four year research grant (NWO-Veni) with which I was able to take my interest in the relation between Roman literature and material culture in a new direction. Until 2020, I am investigating war commemoration in the Roman world, focussing on ‘landscapes of war’ in Roman literature. Roman battlefields often remained unmonumentalised, with fallen soldiers cremated and buried in unmarked mass graves. This lack of physical commemoration contrasts sharply with the attitude towards landscapes of war in Roman literature. There, the very unmarkedness of battlefields allowed for a complex form of remembrance: reflections on the consequences and the costs of wars, on their gains as well as their losses. While the physical sites were gradually reclaimed by nature or agriculture, their equivalents in the world of text and imagination crystallised different interpretations of wars and conflicts for centuries to come. In the course of this project, I have analysed representations of selected battle sites in Roman literature in their material, intellectual and literary context, relying especially on the insights and tools of intertextuality and memory studies. On the basis of this context-sensitive literary analysis I argue for the considerable cultural importance of landscapes of war in ancient Rome, arguing that Roman authors turned landscapes into ‘shadow memorials’ of war and its consequences. An edited volume entitled Landscapes of War in Greek and Roman Literature, co-edited with Marian Makins and Chris Mackie, will shortly be published by Bloomsbury. Further publications include work on Actium, Parthia, battlefield visits, and 'battle palimpsests'. 

In the context of this project, a team of secondary school teachers under the direction of myself and Marije van der Steege has also produced a teaching materials for secondary school students of Latin and Greek, designed to study and reflect on war commemoration in antiquity and in our time. More information (and the freely downloadable book) can be found here.  

See the project website for further information about published results, future plans, and outreach.


Last modified:18 June 2020 11.50 a.m.

Contact information

Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat 26
9712 EK Groningen
The Netherlands