Professor Mark Humphries

Professor Mark Humphries
Professor
Classics, Ancient History & Egyptology
Telephone: (01792) 602786

Mark Humphries has been Professor of Ancient History at Swansea since 2007, and is currently head of the Department of Classics, Ancient History, and Egyptology. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and the University of St Andrews, and previously held posts at St Andrews, Leicester, Manchester, and the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

His main areas of research focus on the transformation of the ancient world in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, and he has published extensively on the religious, political, and ideological history of the period 200-700 CE. His current work focuses on three areas:

  • The interaction between local and imperial politics in the third to sixth centuries and the role of internal conflict in the fall of the Roman Empire.
  • The development of Christianity in the Mediterranean world in Late Antiquity.
  • Understanding developments in the Late-Antique Mediterranean in world-historical perspective.

He is also a general editor, with Professor Gillian Clark (Bristol) and Dr Mary Whitby (Oxford), of the series Translated Texts for Historians published by Liverpool University Press.

He is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales.

Areas of Expertise

  • History and literature of Late Antiquity
  • Early Christianity
  • City of Rome
  • Hagiography and the cult of saints

Publications

  1. ‘Late Antiquity and World History: Challenging Conventional Narratives and Analyses’. Studies in Late Antiquity 1(1), 8-37.
  2. ‘Saints and Hagiography’. In Philip F. Esler (Ed.), The Early Christian World (second edition). (pp. 501-514). Routledge.
  3. ‘Emperors, Usurpers, and the City of Rome: Performing Power from Diocletian to Theodosius’. In Johannes Wienand (Ed.), Contested Monarchy: Integrating the Roman Empire in the Fourth Century AD. (pp. 151-168). New York: OUP.
  4. Liturgy and Laity in Late-Antique Rome: Problems, Sources, and Social Dynamics. Studia Patristica 71, 171-186.
  5. Valentinian III and the City of Rome (425-55): Patronage, Politics, Power. In Grig, L. & Kelly, G. (Ed.), Two Romes: Rome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity (Oxford Studies in Late Antiquity). (pp. 161-182). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Teaching

  • CL-M08 Research Methodologies in Ancient History

    This module is designed to develop academic research skills, an understanding of the methods used in the advanced study of Classics and Ancient History, and a grasp of appropriate ways of presenting the results of such study.

  • CL-M09 Dissertation in Ancient History and or Classical Literature

    Dissertation in Ancient History or an approved Classical subject.

  • CL-M50 Narrative genres and theory

    A series of case-studies surveying the narrative literature of classical antiquity, and exploring appropriate literary and cultural theory.

  • CL-M78 Saints and Sinners in Christian Late Antiquity

    This module will analyse the presentation of various figures ¿ ranging from emperors and empresses to monks and bishops ¿ as heroes and villains in the discourses of the Christian Roman Empire in late antiquity. The core material for study will focus on texts: these will include accounts of emperors such as Eusebius¿ panegyrical Life of Constantine, diverging accounts of the emperor Julian from pagan and Christian perspectives, and Procopius¿ scandalous account of Justinian and Theodora in the Anekdota (Secret History), as well as various classics of the hagiographical genre, such as the lives of St Antony, St Martin of Tours, and St Ambrose of Milan. The module will also consider hagiographical literature produced in the 'Oriental' languages of Coptic (in Egypt) and Syriac (in the Near East). Students will be encouraged, in consultation with the module teacher, to follow their own interests in preparing their written assessments for the module: thus Egyptologists might examine a corpus of Egyptian hagiography, while medievalists might explore the Nachleben of various early Christian figures in the early and central middle ages.

  • CLD300 Classics, Ancient History, Egyptology Dissertation

    Dissertation module for students doing single honours or joint honours degrees in Classics, Classical Civilisation, Ancient History or Egyptology. The aim is for students to do detailed research, to work on a project for several months and to produce a scholarly study of c. 8000-10000 words. The dissertation topic can be chosen freely, in consultation with a member of academic staff and subject to compatibility with a student's degree scheme and availablilty of supervisors and library material.This is a chance for students to pursue an area in which they are especially interested, and to deal with it in depth. Students may choose to do museum-based research. There are two preparatory pieces of assessment: an abstract, outline and bibliography, and an analysis of crucial source material and/or secondary literature. Work on the dissertation itself takes up most of the two semesters. Students are expected to do research independently, but there is a series of lectures in the first semester to provide advice on research and scholarly writing, Every student will be assigned a supervisor who will be organising group sessions with his/her supervisees and who will also be available for one-to-one supervision sessions.

  • CLH150 Rome from Village to Empire: An Introduction to Roman History

    This module provides an introduction to the full sweep of Roman history from the origins of the city (traditionally recorded as 753 BC) through its expansion and development as the centre of a world empire to the political and military eclipse of the western empire in the 5th century AD. Students will learn about the political and military institutions of (in particular) the Republican and Imperial periods of Roman history, the cultural, social and economic characteristics of those periods, and about Rome's relationships with its subjects and neighbours. While the core of the module consists of lectures providing a survey overview of over a millenium of Roman history, seminars will enable students to undertake in-depth case studies relating to particular periods, engaging with both contemporary written evidence (read in translation) and material and visual evidence.

  • CLH230 The Heirs of Rome: The Making of Christendom, Byzantium, and Islam in the Early Middle Ages, 400-800

    The period between AD 400 and 800 saw the unmaking of the world of antiquity and the forging of the new civilizations of medieval Christendom, Byzantium, and Islam. It is, in short, an era with reverberations that are keenly felt in the present. This module will trace the main outlines of this seminal period, showing how the heritage of the Roman world was transformed in diverse ways during the early medieval centuries. Particular attention will be paid to the emergence of new forms of polity, religion, and socio-economic structures. On completion of the module, students will have a keen appreciation of how and why the different regions of eastern and western Europe and the Middle East, once untied under Roman rule, had come to follow widely diverging destinies.

  • CLH284 Writing Ancient History

    This module examines the writing and study of ancient history. It considers the range of available evidence (historical sources, epigraphy, biography, archaeology, numismatics) as well as modern approaches to the interpretation of the evidence.

  • CLH369 Italy before the Romans

    Students often think of Italy as a homogeneous culture under Roman culture. The aim of this module is to challenge such assumptions by examining the varied pre-Roman cultures of the Italian peninsula from a number of perspectives: archaeological, epigraphic, and literary texts. The module will discuss evidence for politics, society, and cultural interactions from Archaic period to the Punic Wars.

  • CLH388 Late Antiquity; The Transformation of the Roman World AD 250-600

    This module examines the seismic events and processes that saw the ancient world transformed into that of the early middle ages. At the beginning of the period, the Roman empire remained the dominant state in the Mediterranean world and the Near East; but by its end, the Roman empire had all but disappeared in the west, where it was replaced by kingdoms ruler by barbarian overlords, while in the east, the Roman state was beginning to take on the shape associated by historians with medieval Byzantium. There were other changes occurring too in culture and society, notably the shift in Christianity¿s position from a persecuted cult to the dominant religion. These trends are examined through a range of textual, iconographic, and archaeological sources.

  • CLP200 Level 2 Project

    This module enables students to expand their knowledge of the Classical and/or ancient Egyptian world in an area of their own choice, and to experiment with a method of communicating that knowledge which is different from the usual assessment practices of essay-writing and exam-writing. They might undertake research that leads to (for example) the construction of a database, the reconstruction of some ancient Greco-Roman or Egyptian artefact, or the production of a storyboard, play script or dramatisation. They might acquire experience of a communication method which could be of use in a future career, e.g. by constructing a teaching plan, writing in a journalistic or creative style, or planning a museum exhibit. They might choose to experiment with a different medium of communication, e.g. video, website. The topic and form of the project chosen must both be approved by the module convener.

  • HIH3319 A History of Violence

    Violence has played a key role in European and world history. This module will explore how cultures of violence have developed from antiquity to modernity. Beginning with Ancient Greece and ending in the twentieth century, this module will chart the changing practice of violence. It will examine how attitudes towards the practice and representation of violence have changed over centuries. Students will explore different aspects of violence, including state sponsored and interpersonal forms. Topics will include warfare, ritual violence such as the dual, criminal violence and state violence, such as judicial torture and executions. A particular theme of the module will be the increasing state monopolization of violence. Students will be introduced to the theoretical literature on organized and individual violence and be challenged to draw comparisons from different epochs. The course questions whether, as has recently been argued, humanity is becoming less violent.

Supervision

  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    MA
    Other supervisor: Dr Nigel Pollard
  • Expansion of Christianity in the late-antique Balkans,300-600 (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Nigel Pollard