Universiteit Leiden

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Susanna de Beer

Senior University Lecturer

Dr. S.T.M. de Beer
+31 71 527 2671



Fields of interest

  • (Renaissance) Latin poetry
  • Italian humanism
  • The city and symbol of Rome
  • Literary patronage
  • Classical Reception Studies
  • Neo-Latin commentaries
  • Digital Humanities 

Current projects

Book Project ‘Visions of Rome. Strategic Appropriation of the Roman Heritage in Humanist Latin Poetry’

I am currently working on a monograph, based on my VENI research project. This book is a systematic study into the images of Rome in Humanist Latin poetry. Neither the poems in question, nor the images of Rome they present, suffer from lack of attention in modern scholarship. However, current approaches often aim at either charting the discourse in an encyclopedic way, or at understanding the poems within the oeuvre of a single author or specific context. This book instead, by exemplary readings of selected poems, systematically approaches the field as a whole. Moreover, it is not confined to analyzing the construction of the images themselves, but extends its analysis to the rhetorical function of these images in contemporary literary, political and religious debates. As such it both offers a guide to reading these and similar poems and (at the same time) exploits the poems to chart the contemporary discourse about the city and symbol of Rome.

LUF research grant 2016-2017 ‘Mapping Visions of Rome’

In 2016 I obtained a LUF research grant, sponsored by the Elise Mathilde Foundation, for the project Mapping Visions of Rome. Connectivity between Literary and Artistic Heritage in a Digital Age. With this grant I will further develop and refine the virtual research environment Mapping Visions of Rome, in order to enhance connectivity with related datasets concerning the Roman heritage.

The project will run during the Academic Year 2016-17 and is sponsored by the Elise Mathilde Foundation: http://www.elisemathilde.nl


Mapping Visions of Rome (poster)

The main goal of this project, which is designed in the research environment Nodegoat, is to make available a collection of (Renaissance) Latin poetry related to the city and symbol of Rome, and to offer tools to analyze these texts individually or comparatively and map them on various literary, geographical and chronological axes.


For a more detailed discussion on this project, you can watch the video of a paper I presented at the Annual meeting of the AIUCD (Associazione per l’Informatica Umanistica e Cultura Digitale), University Ca’Foscari, Venice, September 2016 (nr. 26 de beer) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLaMuVAIzqPqtnl3URgYXvqPMluW1acDrO

Digital Roman Heritage (poster)

This web portal is the virtual home of Digital Roman Heritage, an international research collaboration network that brings together Digital Humanities initiatives with regard to the physical, artistic and literary legacy of Rome. The network has been established at the e-Rome Workshop held 4-5 March 2015 at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study (NIAS) in Wassenaar.

The main aims of this network are to share best practices, and to facilitate the digital linkage between projects from various disciplines related to the city and symbol of Rome. To this purpose the network 1) hosts a web portal to present projects and activities 2) meets regularly to discuss collaboration 3) applies for grants to further data exchange.


NIAS fellowship 2014-2015

For the academic year 2014-2015 Susanna de Beer has received an individual fellowship at NIAS for the project Mapping Humanist Visions of Rome: Sharing and Visualizing Poetic Appropriations of the Roman Physical and Literary Heritage. This research project will combine the finishing of her VENI research with a spin-off of that same project in the field of computational humanities.

During the stay at NIAS Susanna will work on a monograph that explores five competing images of Rome found in humanist Latin Poetry. Moreover she will design an interactive internet database to figuratively and literally map the data involved. The first purpose is to create a research collaboratory that stores, systematizes and renders searchable valuable literary sources in relation to physical places in Rome. A second purpose is to systematize the data in such a way that they can be linked to existing databases or applications related to (Renaissance) Rome (such as www.hadrianus.it or www.census.de), and make them available both for interdisciplinary research and popular dissemination.

A pilot database for this project is already under construction in close cooperation with the KNAW-funded project Mapping Notes and Nodes in Networks, in which potential relationships in biographical data and cultural networks in the creative industry in Amsterdam and Rome in the Early Modern Period are explored. During the MA Tutorial Classics ‘Writing Rome. The Physical and Symbolic City in Latin Poetry’, students have already started experimenting with tagging Latin texts about Rome for this purpose.


Current research

Visions of Rome. Strategic Appropriation of the Roman Heritage in Humanist Latin Poetry(VENI from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) 

Capitol Hill in Washington and Mussolini’s triumphal road along the Forum Romanum both present a visual connection to ancient Rome that supports a claim to power. These claims could only be plausible because the city of Rome was – and still is -a heritage site of shared cultural, political and religious milestones. This central position is largely the result of the activities of the Renaissance humanists. They fervently uncovered the glorious Roman past that was still perceptible in the ruined monuments and the Latin Classics. At the same time they restored the Roman heritage by new literary output. This process of preservation and renovation is reflected in the visions of Rome articulated in humanist Latin poetry. A systematic study of these texts is particularly rewarding, because they were written by the main agents in this process, and combine ancient and contemporary, visual and literary images of the eternal city. These images range from Rome as the capital of a powerful empire to a ruined city; from Rome as the iconic centre of Christian faith to the target of the Protestant Reformation. 

This research project aims at mapping and understanding these contrasting visions, by viewing them as the result of a dynamic process of selection, interpretation and appropriation of the Roman heritage. It is my hypothesis that these images were strategically employed in order to shape the identities of the humanists and their audience and to legitimize the political and religious powers involved. I furthermore assume that the Latin literary genres, themes and motifs employed support and unite these strategies. By adopting a multidisciplinary approach, consisting of literary, cultural-historical and sociological methods I will offer a new interpretative framework for the flexibility of the Roman image as strategic appropriation of Rome’s literary and cultural heritage.    

Former research  

Roman Scientific and Encyclopaedic Literature: Foundation and Authorisation of Early Modern Knowledge 

Postdoc-project within the NWO-project supervised by Prof. K.A.E. Enenkel ‘The New Management of Knowledge in the Early Modern Period: The Transmission of Classical Latin Literature via Neo-Latin Commentaries’. 

Curriculum vitae


Post-doctoral researcher and University lecturer Renaissance Latin at the Department of Classics, Leiden University


Doctorate (cum laude) at the University of Amsterdam. Supervisors: Prof. B. Kempers & Prof. K.A.E. Enenkel


Supervisor (ad interim) of the Huizinga Institute, Graduate School for Cultural History in Amsterdam


Employee at Burgersdijk & Niermans, Antiquarian Bookshop and Auction House, Leiden


Study of Classical Languages at Leiden University, with a specialization in (Neo-)Latin literature

Awards and scholarships


VENI grant from the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Resarch


ICH Award for ‘Promovendus of the Year’ ( Institute of Culture & History, University of Amsterdam)


Several research scholarships at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR) and the Dutch Art-historical Institute in Florence (NIKI), co-sponsored by NWO

Teaching activities

My teaching activities range from language acquisition in BA1, the introduction to Renaissance Latin in BA2, to seminars on various topics related to (Renaissance) Latin for BA3 and (R)MA, such as epigrammatic poetry, literary patronage, exile literature and Rome in Latin literature.

Senior University Lecturer

  • Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • Moderne Engelstalige letterkunde

Work address

Johan Huizinga Building
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room number 1.06b



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