Professor Katherine Clarke

Academic Background

Katherine Clarke's research interests range widely. She has published three substantial books with Oxford University Press. The first two focus on the Hellenistic period during which Rome began to emerge as the leading world power. Between Geography and History: Hellenistic Constructions of the Roman World concerns the geographical tradition and examines the way in which Greek writers were forced to re-evaluate their conceptions of the world in the light of Roman imperialism; this work focuses particularly on the geographer, Strabo, who left the only extensively surviving geographical description from antiquity (17 books), covering the whole known world. Professor Clarke's second book, Making Time for the Past: Local History and the Polis, shifts the focus from space to time, examining the conception and articulation of time in the Greek world, especially in the context of local history. By looking at the construction of the past through the medium of local historiography, it offers an insight into how different versions of the past and different constructions of time were offered to the community for approval. Professor Clarke's most recent book, Shaping the Geography of Empire: Man and Nature in Herodotus' Histories, focuses on this Greek historian's presentation of the natural world and on the interaction of players within the narrative with their environment.

She has also published extensively on the works of Roman historians such as Tacitus, with his cynical take on the world of imperial power, and Polybius, who witnessed and analysed the rise of Rome as a global ruler. Professor Clarke's next phase of research involves further work on both of these authors; in particular a major study of the importance of kingship in Tacitus' analysis of the early Principate, which belies and challenges the popular image of Rome as a state that could not abide the idea of a king!

Besides publishing widely, Professor Clarke has appeared as invited speaker at many international conferences - from New York to Kyoto, the Basque country, Strasbourg, Milan, Essen, as well as in the UK.


Research Interests

Greek and Roman historiography (especially Herodotus and Tacitus), ancient geographical traditions (especially in the late Hellenistic period), concepts of time, local and universal history.