Karla Pollmann, born in Tübingen, Germany, in 1963. Ph.D. from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Habilitation from the Universität Konstanz. Professor of Classics at St. Andrews University.
Fellow (1 September 2003 – 30 June 2004)
ANCIENT CULTURAL THEORIES
During my stay at NIAS, I was able to complete a number of projects and begin on several new ones. I completed a commentary (to be published by Schönigh Verlag, Paderborn), on Statius’ Thebaid book 12 which is the last and most intriguing part of an epic from the first century AD on the war against Thebes. The commentary addresses the linguistic questions of this demanding text as well as wider interpretative issues that continue to create controversy among scholars. Together with my co-editor M. Vessey, I completed a volume of collected essays on “Augustine and the Disciplines” (to be published by Oxford University Press). Like no Christian thinker before him, Augustine became increasingly aware that Christianity had an ambivalent attitude towards knowledge and learning in that these elements were seen as being laudable if used for the right, i.e. Christian, purposes but at the same time they were not really considered essential to being a good Christian. By rigorously facing the intellectual challenge set by this tension, Augustine arrives at a new, ‘Christian discipline’, namely a theory of how to interpret the Bible correctly. In our volume, contributors sketch this development with close reference to texts, traditions and circumstances at the time of Augustine.
I also wrote several small contributions to various Encyclopaedias and some more substantial articles on topics of Christian Late Antiquity, one of which was for a conference on Poetry and Exegesis, which I organized together with W. Otten (Utrecht) at NIAS.
I was able to lay the foundations for my new project on Ancient Cultural Theories and completed three chapters: one on understanding culture in Antiquity and the period after, one on Lucretius, and one on a selection of authors in Late Antiquity. I intend to continue with this project during the summer. Finally, I set up and started on the organisation and planning of a five-year project which will study the reception of Augustine from 430 to 2000.