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Bettina Reitz receives a Niels Stensen Fellowship

Dr. Bettina Reitz-Joosse, postdoctoral researcher in the Classics department, has received a Niels Stensen Fellowship.

University of Pennsylvania

This year, seven young researchers were selected from fifty applicants to receive a grant which allows them to carry out postdoctoral research at a university outside the Netherlands. Reitz-Joosse, who defended her dissertation at Leiden in May 2013, is planning to spend one year at the Classics department of the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League university in Philadelphia. The departments of Leiden and Penn have maintained close ties for many years now. For instance, members of both departments organise the biennial Penn-Leiden Colloquia on Ancient Values together.

Research project

At Penn, Reitz-Joosse will start a new research project concerning the cultural meaning of battlefields in ancient Rome. Today, a visitor to the World War I battlefields of Ypres can hardly view the physical sites except through the lens of canonical poems like John McCrae’s ‘In Flanders Fields’. Are comparable mechanisms at work in the Roman cultural imagination? How were battlefields and landscapes of war treated in Roman literature? Roman sites of battle tended to remain unmarked, but their capacity as symbolic spaces was huge. Literary texts which treat such sites can reveal how such landscapes crystallized the conflicting emotions that war left behind. In her work, Reitz-Joosse is particularly interested in the relationship between war and the natural world and its ecosystem, as well as in the problematic link between the exact location of battles and their literary commemoration in Rome.

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