Klazina Staat

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Postdoctoral research fellow FWO, Latin literature
Ghent University
Email: Klazina.Staat@UGent.be
Web:  https://research.flw.ugent.be/nl/klazina.staat

Klazina Staat studied Classics and Art History and is currently a postdoctoral researcher in Latin Literature at the Department of Literary Studies, Ghent University. In spring of 2019, she defended her thesis on the notions of belief and credibility in a selection of late antique Latin hagiographical narratives about chaste couples. Currently she is a FWO-junior postdoc, working on late antique and early medieval travel writings of pilgrims to the Holy Land, Rome, and Constantinople. She is interested in Christian literature from the late antique and early medieval periods, which she studies from combined ancient and modern theoretical perspectives. Another field of interest is art, and the interplay of image and text in the late antique and early medieval cultural expressions.

“Since the beginning of my studies in Classics, I have been fascinated by early Christian literature. I am very much interested in the question of the interplay between literature and reality: how does literature reflect certain religious ideas and ideals, and how does it in turn affect the reader in real life? In my PhD research, I concentrated on the question how late antique hagiographical narrative reflects contemporary debates about holiness, miracles, and virginity, as well as the impossibility of representing them. In doing so, I argued, hagiographical narratives have a certain edifying function, learning the reader to acknowledge their limits of understanding in real life. In my postdoctoral research project, I explore the form and function of  Latin and Greek travel guidebooks and travel descriptions, both at the level of the contents and the iconotextual representation in the manuscript. I’m particularly interested in the question which functions these texts had for the reader at home, who might not have the chance to go on a real journey, but nevertheless wanted to read texts about lands and holy places far-away.

“A central aspect of my research has been the strong belief that Latin literature cannot be seen apart from other traditions, Greek, oriental, and probably any other literature. My PhD project was part of the ERC project ‘Novel Saints. Studies in Ancient Fiction’, focusing on the interplay between various classical traditions (most importantly, the ancient novel) and hagiography in various Latin, Greek, Syriac, Persian, and other literary traditions. The cosmopolitan and global interest of RELICS is highly relevant for my postdoctoral research, which aims to highlight the importance of Latin as the primary language of travel literature, which, through its very essence, explores the boundaries and space between different cultures and geographical areas (Western Europe, the Mediterranean, the Near East), periods of time (Roman imperial time, late antiquity, the early middle ages), and different ideologies (Christian, non-Christian, Islamic). Moreover, reflecting the focus on the notions of schooling and education in RELICS, my research takes its inspiration not only from modern theoretical perspectives, but also from ancient rhetorical theory and exercises in order to clarify the particular techniques underlying the creation of travel descriptions in texts and manuscripts.”

Klazina’s project, ‘Tours on Paper. Literary Explorations of the Travel Guide Book (Itinerarium) in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages’ (2019-2023) is funded by the Flemish Research Foundation – FWO.

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