nl en

Tutorial Latin: Intertextuality and Heritage Construction in Latin Literature


Admission requirements

This course is open to Master students and Research Master students in Classics and Ancient Civilizations.


What do intertextual analysis and heritage studies have in common? At first sight they may seem very different and even incompatible approaches: the one focusing purely on literature, originating from scholarship that has preached the ‘autonomy of art’, the other focusing on monuments and sites, an approach grounded in sociology and history. However, there are actually many points of contact between these approaches, that make integration possible and even very fruitful. This can be made clear on the basis of two concepts that are of vital importance both in the literary theory of intertextuality and in heritage studies, that is memory and appropriation.
Heritage is fundamentally linked to collective memory, as heritage concerns those elements of the past that a group or society has chosen (either consciously or unconsciously) to remember. The physical or symbolical embodiment of such memories, among which we can reckon monuments or works of art, can be designated as lieux de mémoire or heritage sites. Clearly memory also plays a prominent role in intertextuality. Already in the 1970’s the classical scholar Gian Biagio Conte used the term poetic memory to understand the functions of literary allusions and intertextuality.
Another concept that plays a pivotal role both in intertextuality and heritage studies is appropriation: the understanding that the selection itself does not generate meaning, but the way this selection is employed in the new context. This applies both to the elements of the past that are considered ‘heritage’, and for elements selected from earlier texts (words, thoughts, and literary conventions) employed in literary works. Appropriation furthermore implies agency (who appropriates?) and an agenda (to what purpose?). With regard to intertextuality this can be connected to the awareness that literary allusions are often employed for rhetorical purposes.
All this suggests that the process of writing literature by means of references to earlier texts can be compared to the process by which heritage is constructed. But what is more, literature also plays an important role in shaping the interpretation of physical heritage sites, by mentioning them in specific contexts, or attaching specific importance to them.

In this tutorial we will read a selection a Latin texts (the selection will be made partly according to the students’ research interests and can both include classical or later Latin texts) and approach them from an integrated intertextual and heritage studies-perspective, keeping in mind as main questions:
1) How can we understand intertextual references in Latin texts as heritage construction?
2) How do Latin texts shape the interpretation of physical heritage sites?
In order to be able to answer these questions, this tutorial will both introduce the students to the modern interdisciplinary approaches in this field, and to the research tools (a.o. from Digital Humanities) that facilitate this kind of research.

Course objectives

  • Broadening the knowledge on intertextuality and heritage studies;

  • Practicing critical assessment of modern interdisciplinary approaches;

  • Broadening the knowledge of (Digital) research tools for Latin literature;

  • Enlarging reading and interpretative competence of Latin texts;

  • Enhancing presentation skills;

  • Enhancing writing skills;

  • Enhancing research skills.


Please consult the timetables on the Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Mode of instruction

Seminar/ tutorial

Course Load

Course load for 10 EC (= 280 hours):
Rough division:

  • class: 28 hours (or as much as is needed);

  • weekly preparation: 112 hours;

  • book review: 30 hours;

  • presentation of research project: 40 hours;

  • essay: 70 hours.

It is possible to take this course for 5 EC (= 140 hours). Please contact the teacher for more information about this option.

Assessment method

  • Book review: 20%

  • Oral presentation, with full handout: 30%

  • Written paper: 50%

The oral presentation cannot be repeated. In case the final mark is unsatisfactory, a student can resit the book review, the written paper, or – if necessary – both.

Students are required to attend the classes, to be fully prepared and to join the discussions. Students who fail more than one session without valid reason will be excluded from the course.



Reading list

Most primary and secondary literature will be made available through the University Library, but each student should have:

  • Hinds, S., Allusion and Intertext. Dynamics of Appropriation in Roman Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998)

The following titles might be useful for a first orientation:

  • Allen, Graham, Intertextuality (London, 2011)

  • Conte, G.B., The Rhetoric of Imitation. Genre and Poetic Memory in Virgil and other Latin Poets. With a foreword by C. Segal (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1986)

  • Elsner, J., ed., Art and Text in Roman Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996)

  • Erll, A., and A. Nünning, eds., Gedächtniskonzepte der Literaturwissenschaft. Theoretische Grundlegung und Anwendungsperspektiven (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2005)

  • Fairclough, G., The Heritage Reader (London: Routledge, 2008)

  • Graham, B. & P. Howards, eds., The Ashgate Research Companion to Heritage and Identity (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008)

  • Stein-Hölkeskamp, E., and K.-J. Hölkeskamp, Erinnerungsorte Der Antike. Die Römische Welt (München: Beck, 2006)

  • Lowenthal, D., The Past is a Foreign Country (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1985)

  • _______ , D., The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History (Chicago: Chicago UP, 1998)


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.


Dr. S.T.M. de Beer