Gerben Wartena

Gerben Wartena

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Research interests: early Christian Latin; late antique poetry; Biblical epic

Title Phd project:Christian Epic at the Crossroads of Cultures: Sedulius' Carmen Paschale book 5

Supervisors: prof.dr. C.H.M. Kroon, dr. N.M. Vos, and dr. M.A.J. Heerink 

My research is concerned with the Carmen Paschale (Easter Song) by Sedulius (5th century), particularly with the 5th and last book. The Carmen Paschale is a Biblical epic, in which the miracles performed by Christ are narrated in the form of a classical heroic poem. This poem pre-eminently shows a model of multicultural identity at the crossroads of classical and Christian culture. Up to the 17th century the Carmen Paschale enjoyed great popularity, after which it nearly fell into oblivion. Over the last few decades interest in early Christian poetry has been increasing, but the 5th (and final) book of the Carmen Paschale has not been the subject of much research yet. My project involves writing an interdisciplinary commentary with introduction and conclusion. Literary and linguistic approaches are combined with a cultural-historical analysis. In this commentary the position of book 5 in its context will be a main point of interest, in addition to an analysis of the text on sentence and scene level. The focus will be on four issues: intertextuality (what is the relation between this text and older Christian and pagan texts?), intratextuality (what is the relation between book 5 and the rest of the Carmen Paschale?), context (what is the relation between this text and the cultural-religious environment of Late Antiquity?) and text presentation (how does the particular modelling of the text contribute to its persuasive effect?). Here recent theories from the fields of narratology and discourse linguistics may lead to a more complete and better understanding of the rhetorical level of the poem.

This PhD project has been made possible by a scholarship for teachers from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

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Teacher of Classics at Mendelcollege, Haarlem


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