Philologisches Seminar

Tübingen Working Group 'Narrative Dynamics in Latin Literature'

The Tübingen working-group Narrative Dynamics in Latin Literature, founded in 2017, explores narratological questions within the framework of a cultural and literary approach to the world of antiquity. The text corpus studied includes the classical and late antique texts of Latin literature, the research interest focuses both on general theory building and on the specific application of narratological models in the form of stand-alone analyses and commentaries. We start from the assumption that modern approaches such as narratology can contribute to a more precise understanding of ancient texts and at the same time place them in a productive comparative dialogue across times and cultures (Harrison 2001; Schmitz 2007, 1–16; de Jong 2014, 3–15; Kirstein/Abele/Nill 2019, 99–104). Within the ancient world, Latin literature is understood in its close interconnectedness with the other literatures of antiquity, such as Greek and Hebrew (Liss/Oeming 2010; Jochim-Buhl/Kirstein 2018), and is contextualized in its historical and social settings (see also Forschungsstelle Spätantike/Frühmittelalter). The approaches discussed also include positions of postmodern literary and fictional theory, such as Possible Worlds Theory or research on ambiguity.

The concept of narratology follows a broad understanding and is addressed to narrative structures in a variety of fictional and factual genres (Herman 1999; Nünning/Nünning 2002; Grethlein/Rengakos 2009). These include Augustan and imperial epic poetry, as well as historiography and epistolography, up to elegiac and lyric poetry. Current research projects include a range of methodologically diverse studies that take up both classical and post-structuralist approaches to narratology, as well as those inspired by linguistics, sociology, communication theory, and the digital humanities.

The diachronic and comparative perspectives that arise from Narratology & Classics can also contribute to the question: Why Classics in the 21st century? (on this, see also Beard 2014).

Core Concepts



Current Events


2017 ­­­– 2021

Bibliography on '(post-)modern literary theory and ancient texts'

  • Beard, Mary (2014), Do Classics have a Future?, in: M.B., Confronting the Classics, London: Profile Books, 1–14.

  • Fowler, Don (2000), Roman Constructions. Readings in Postmodern Latin, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Grethlein, Jonas/Rengakos, Antonios (2009), Introduction, in: J.G./A.R., (eds.), Narratology and Interpretation. The Content of Narrative Form in Ancient Literature, Berlin, New York: De Gruyter, 1–11.

  • Harrison, Stephen (2001), Texts, Ideas and the Classics Scholarship, Theory and Classical Literature, Oxford u.a.: Oxford University Press.

  • Herman, David (Hrsg.) (1999), Narratologies. New Perspectives on Narrative Analysis, Columbus: The Ohio State University Press.

  • Jong, Irene J. F. de (2014), Narratology and Classics. A Practical Guide, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Kirstein, Robert/Abele, Andreas/Nill, Hans-Peter (2019), Narratology and Classical Epic, in: Christiane Reitz/Simone Finkmann (eds.), Structures of Epic Poetry. Volume I: Foundations, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 99–113.
  • Kirstein, Robert (2023), Discourse traditions and literary studies: the example of Ancient Greek and Latin literature(s), in: Esme Winter-Froemel/Álvaro S. Octavio de Toledo y Huerta (eds.), Manual of Discourse Traditions in Romance,  Berlin: de Gruyter, 744-–746.
  • Liss, Hanna/Oeming, Manfred (eds.) (2010), Literary Construction of Identity in the Ancient World. Proceedings of the Conference Literary Fiction and the Construction of Identity in Ancient Literatures: Options and Limits of Modern Literary Approach, University Park, PA: Penn State University Press.
  • Miller, Paul Allan (2021), Postmodernism and Classics, in: Oxford Classical Dictionary. Retrieved 13 Jul. 2022, from
  • Nill, Hans-Peter (2018), Gewalt und Unmaking in Lucans Bellum Civile. Textanalysen aus narratologischer, wirkungsästhetischer und gewaltsoziologischer Perspektive (= Amsterdam Studies in Classical Philology 27), Leiden, Boston: Brill.

  • Nünning, Ansgar/Nünning, Vera (Hrsg.) (2002), Erzähltheorie transgenerisch, intermedial, interdisziplinär, Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier.

  • Schmitz, Thomas A. (2007), Modern Literary Theory and Ancient Texts, Malden, MA: Blackwell.

  • Schwindt, Jürgen P. (2021), Ovid als Autor der Moderne, in: Melanie Möller (ed.), Ovid Handbuch. Leben - Werk - Wirkung, Berlin: J.B. Metzler, 484–493.

Introductory literature on narratology, literary theory, and cultural theory is listed here.

Members & Contact


Prof. Dr. Robert Kirstein

Eberhard Karls-Universität Tübingen
Philologisches Seminar
Wilhelmstr. 36 | 72074 Tübingen



AR Dr. Andreas Abele (mail)

Jutta Beck, M.A. (mail)

Katharina Blaas (mail)

Simon Grund (mail)

Aurelia Gumz

Berenike Jochim-Buhl (mail)

Dr. Hans-Peter Nill (mail)

Elisabeth Schedel (mail)

Katharina Stefaniw (mail)

Georgios Voulgaris

Julian Wagner (mail)


Assistant Researchers: Annika Hümbs, Jana Kemmler

In collaboration with (i.a.): Irene de Jong (Amsterdam), Roy Gibson (Durham), Eckart Goebel (Tübingen), David Konstan (New York), Damian Nelis (Geneva), Wolf Schmid (Hamburg), Christiane Reitz (Rostock), Gareth Williams (New York)