Clarke, Katherine

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CLARKE, Katherine


Female. Education: Earned M.A. and D.Phil.


Office—St. Hilda's College, Oxford OX4 1DY, England. E-mail—[email protected]


Christ Church, Oxford, Oxford, England, began as senior scholar, became junior research fellow; St. Hilda's College, Oxford, fellow and tutor in ancient history; Oxford University, Oxford, lecturer in ancient history.


Philip Leverhulme Prize, 2001.


Between Geography and History: Hellenistic Constructions of the Roman World, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1999.


A project examining conceptions of time in classical antiquity.


In her book, Between Geography and History: Hellenistic Constructions of the Roman World, Katherine Clarke, a specialist in ancient history at St. Hilda's College, Oxford, explores "the relationship between history and geography in the extant writings of three Hellenistic figures: Polybius, Posidonius, and (especially) Strabo, each of whose works were composed in response to Rome's domination of the Greek east," according to W. Jeffrey Tatum in American Historical Review. Polybius, Posidonius, and Strabo were eyewitnesses to history during the Roman empire's inexorable expansion. "Likening them to the first chroniclers of the Americas, Katherine Clarke shows how the vast expansion of the known world gave every history a geographical edge, while the enormity of change made it impossible for geography to be written in a timeless present," observed Greg Woolf in the Times Literary Supplement. Clarke delves into ideas such as the ways in which the intellectual discipline of geography is differentiated from history; the importance of the concept of time in Strabo's writings; Polybius's geographical consciousness; and notions of regional, not chronological, organization in Posidonius's fragmentary Histories. An overarching concern is those problems associated with arranging and using fragmentary writings in discussions of geography and history, as many of the writings of her three main sources are reconstructed from other sources.

Clarke also considers both history and geography in modern terms using two distinct models: "one that associates geography with space and history with time, and one that associates geography with present and history with past," related J. Fischer in Choice. She asserts that "the categorization of aspects of their work as 'geographical' too often reflects definitions used by modern scholars, rather than necessarily those used by the ancient authors themselves," noted Sarah Pothecary in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review. Between Geography and History, which began as Clarke's Ph.D. thesis, was "well reworked" into its present form, Fischer commented. Pothecary called the book "a fresh, lively, and original study of three writers of antiquity who dealt with geographical as well as historical themes" in their works. "There are good things in this book, as well as much that will provoke disagreement," Tatum commented, and adding that the book "is by no means an easy read." However, Tatum concluded that for future studies of Strabo and Posidonius "Clarke's book will nevertheless remain essential reading."



American Historical Review, October, 2002, W. Jeffrey Tatum, review of Between Geography and History: Hellenistic Constructions of the Roman World, p. 1272.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review, September 6, 2000, Sarah Pothecary, review of Between Geography and History.

Choice, September, 2000, J. Fischer, review of Between Geography and History.

Times Literary Supplement, April 28, 2000, Greg Woolf, "Classics in Brief."


Oxford University Web site, (February 22, 2001).

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