Alexander Wilson

Alexander Wilson
Ancient History Postgraduate, October 2015

One fascinating course on Greek history at the very beginning of my undergraduate career diverted me away from studying Law and into the complexities of the ancient world. Although I’ve enjoyed working in the enormous variety of domains which fall under the banner of Classics, that first love of Greek history has stayed with me. After my BA (Hons) in Classical Studies and an MA thesis on the contentious relationship between Thebes and its Boeotian neighbours (both at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand), a scholarship from the Clarendon Fund enabled me to depart the Antipodes for Oxford in 2014 to work on a DPhil on the ethnic identity and history of the Aeolian Greeks with Prof. Rosalind Thomas. An interest in ethnic and cultural identities began with my work on Boeotia in the Archaic and Classical periods, where regional identity was built—sometimes by force of will and arms—into a political structure. The Aeolians caught my attention as a group who have escaped attention (and, I am discovering, defy investigation), but equally so the broader questions of how and why personal identity is formed within groups shape my work. By investigating the performance and cultural poetics of ethnicity, I intend to explore what cultural remains the Aeolians have left for posterity.

Oxford’s resources (many), environment (inspiring) and scholars (outstanding) almost go without saying. More importantly, the Faculty of Classics has a genuinely supportive approach to graduate studies. The Faculty and the graduate community are friendly and interactive. Stimulating research and discussion abounds in frequent seminars, workshops, conferences and colloquia, to which graduates are often invited as active participants. Oxford’s reputation as an international destination draws in scholars from many areas and backgrounds, and so I’ve enjoyed a great many engaging talks from completely new perspectives here. Interdisciplinary studies are not only accommodated but facilitated and encouraged, and the social life of colleges and various societies makes stimulating pursuits and broadened horizons at Oxford a very pleasant experience. 

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