Focusing on classical architecture and the city of Rome, the unifying aim of my research is to better understand how ideas and meanings become invested in structures, and how people living in antiquity viewed their built environments. My research currently has four distinct but closely related strands: perceptions of architecture and architects in antiquity; the investment of cultural identity in buildings; conflicts over public space in cities; and attitudes to material heritage in the past. Linking these topics is the theme of architecture as a cultural phenomenon. This moves away from traditional approaches that focus on technical matters of construction, to pursue new lines of inquiry about the place and value of architecture in society – I am interested in not just how structures were built, but what people outside of the construction process thought about those buildings. I adopt an interdisciplinary approach to investigating these questions, combining the study of ancient literature and material culture. Embracing engagement with other academic fields has also led to rewarding collaborations with those working in architecture and heritage studies.
My research project at the Norwegian Institute, ‘The Dark Side of Monuments,’ examines the detrimental effects of, and opposition to, building activity and urban development in the ancient city of Rome between the 2nd century BC and 3rd century AD. It questions the accepted position that monumental public works were necessarily beneficial, and considers who lost out when such structures went up.
Prior to taking up the position at the Norwegian Institute, I was the Grete Sondheimer Fellow at the Warburg Institute in London (project: Who built Rome’s monuments? A comparative approach to architectural authorship in Ancient and Early Modern Italy); before this I held a Rome Fellow at the British School of Rome (project: What's Greek about Roman architecture? Building identity in the Roman empire). I have held lecturing posts in the Department of Classics at John Cabot University (Rome), the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter (UK), where I also studied for my PhD, and the School of Architecture at the University of Lincoln (UK).
Architectural Restoration and Heritage in Imperial Rome, 2019, Oxford University Press: Oxford Studies in Ancient Culture and Representation Series. This book examines how historic buildings were treated in ancient Rome and the attitudes that lay behind this. It is the first monograph-length study of the concept of built heritage in ancient thought, presenting new ways of understanding how historical associations were invested in buildings in antiquity, and challenging ideas that heritage is a purely modern phenomenon.
Chapters, Articles, Reviews
The Roman Cult of Hercules, in Ogden D. (ed) The Oxford Handbook to Heracles, Oxford, forthcoming.
Architectural Criticism in the Roman World and the Limits of Literary Interaction, in König, A., Langlands R., and Uden J. (eds) Literature and Culture in the Roman Empire, 96-235, Cambridge. 2020: 247-268
Notes from Rome 2018-2019, The Papers of the British School at Rome 87 2019: 309-316 (co-author with Amanda Claridge).
Defining Rome’s Pantheum, Journal of Ancient History 7.2: 269-315, 2019.
Roman Architects and the Struggle for Fame in an Unequal Society, in Damon C. and Pieper C. (eds) Eris vs. aemulatio: Competition in Classical Antiquity, Leiden (Brill: Mnemosyne Supplement), 2018: 208-229.
The Restoration of the Hut of Romulus, in Emmons P., Hendrix J., and Lomholt J. (eds) The Cultural Role of Architecture: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives, Routledge, 2012: 18-26.
(Review) A. Carandini (ed), The Atlas of Ancient Rome: Biography and Portraits of the City, Journal of Roman Studies 2019: 315-16
(Review) J. D. Evans (ed), A Companion to the Archaeology of the Roman Republic, Journal of Roman Studies, 2014: 250-51.
I have also contributed articles on the ancient world to History Today, London Review of Books, Art&Object, and Pegasus (Exeter).