Koen De Temmerman - NovelEchoes

Koen De TemmermanDescription of the PI

Koen De Temmerman is a Full Professor at the Department of Literary Studies at Ghent University. He studied Classics (Ba 1999, Ma 2001) and Communication Studies (Ma 2002) at Ghent University and the University of Bologna. For his PhD dissertation (Ghent 2006, sup. K. Demoen) he was awarded the Triennial Prize for Humanities by the Flemish Scholarly Foundation (2008). After his PhD, he was a Francqui Fellow of the Belgian American Educational Foundation at Stanford University, visiting lecturer at University College Cork, Postdoctoral Fellow of the Flemish Research Council (F.W.O.-Vlaanderen) and Stanley Seeger Fellow at Princeton University. In 2017 he was awarded the Prize Laureate of Humanities by the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Arts and Sciences. He is also the recipient of two ERC grants (Starting Grant 2013, Consolidator Grant 2018).

He was a member of the Belgian Young Academy (2013-18), is an Editorial Board member of L'Antiquité Classique and Kleio. Tijdschrift voor oude talen en antieke culturen, an Advisory Board member of Ancient Narrative, a coordinator of Ancient Rhetoric and Aesthetics (a research group of OIKOS, the Dutch research school for Classics) and an Executive Council member of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric.

De Temmerman works on the early history of the novel. He studies the oldest representatives of this genre (Greek and Latin; first few centuries of the Common Era) and their persistence in later periods. By paying special attention to Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, he aims to correct the traditional, literary-historical view that conceptualizes both eras as 'empty' interim periods between the latest ancient novels and their reception in 11th and 12th-century Byzantium and Persia. Thematically, De Temmerman is interested in the representation of character(s); methodologically, his work combines insights from ancient rhetoric, physiognomy and modern literary theory (mainly narratology).  

At Ghent, De Temmerman teaches ancient rhetoric and literary history. He directs a team of ca. ten researchers with the generous support of the Flemish Research Council (F.W.O.-Vlaanderen), the Special Research Fund (B.O.F.) of Ghent University and the European Research Council (ERC). In popularizing contributions he makes a case for the importance of Classics (and Humanities in general) in education and their relevance today.

Recent books: Characterization in Ancient Greek Literature (Brill 2017); Writing Biography in Greece and Rome. Narrative Technique and Fictionalization (Cambridge University Press 2016); Crafting Characters. Heroes and Heroines in the Ancient Greek Novel (Oxford University Press 2014)

Further information on De Temmerman's scholarly interests and publications (incl. postprints) can be found at his personal website and that of his research team.

Description of the project

Novel Echoes. Ancient Novelistic Receptions and Concepts of Fiction in Late Antique and Medieval Secular Narrative from East to West

This project offers the first comprehensive reconstruction and interpretation of receptions of ancient novels (1st-4th cent. AD) in (Greek, Arabic and western vernacular) secular narrative from Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. Novel Echoes follows up from the ERC Starting Grant project Novel Saints (on hagiography). It does so by taking ancient novelistic receptions towards entirely new, unexplored horizons.

Our knowledge about the early history of the novel is incomplete. Receptions of ancient novels have been studied for periods from the 11th and 12th cent. onwards but not systematically examined for preceding eras – much to the detriment of the study of both narrative (then and later) and the history of fiction. This project pursues the hypothesis that different secular, narrative traditions in this period were impacted (directly or indirectly) by ancient novelistic influences of different kinds and adopted (and adapted) them to various degrees and purposes; and that, since the ancient novel is a genre defined by its own fictionality, its reception in later narrative impacts notions of truth and authentication in ways that other (often more authoritative) literary models (e.g. Homer and the Bible) do not.

Novel Echoes strikes a balance between breath and depth by envisaging three objectives:

1. the creation of a reference tool charting all types of novelistic influence in secular narrative from the 4th to the 12th cent.;
2. the in-depth study of particular sets of texts and the analysis of their implicit conceptualizations of truth, authentication, fiction and narrative;
3. the reconstruction of routes of transmission in both the West and the East.

Given the project’s innovative focus, it will enhance our understanding of both the corpus texts and the early history of the novel; place the study of corpus texts on an improved methodological footing; and contribute to the theoretical study of the much-vexed question of how to conceptualize fiction.


Publications: https://biblio.ugent.be/person/801001572063 and https://users.ugent.be/~kdtemmer/publications.htm