Professor Neville Morley

Research interests

I have three main research areas - though in practice they overlap and influence one another, as well as leading in new directions.

(i) Ancient economic and social history, including trade, urbanisation, slavery, agriculture and demography, with a particular focus on Roman Italy and the city of Rome. I have published monographs on the impact of the city of Rome on the Italian economy and on approaches to trade in classical antiquity, as well as articles and chapters on a wide range of economic topics. I am currently working on a series of article-length pieces on Roman economic thought and the Roman agronomists, seeking to develop a proper understanding of the concepts and values that shaped Roman thinking about economic matters. In the longer term, I have an interest in exploring the relationship between economy and ecology - the role of the environment in shaping economic structures - in the ancient Mediterranean.

(ii) The reception and influence of ancient texts and examples in the modern world, especially in the social sciences, with a particular focus on the influence of the Greek historian Thucydides in historiography and political theory. I have written on the development of different conceptions of 'modernity' and the contrast with 'antiquity' in the nineteenth century, as well as chapters on important figures like Marx and Nietzsche, and am currently working on a monograph on Marx and Antiquity. I ran a four-year research project, funded by the AHRC, on Thucydides: reception, reinterpretation and influence, which considered the modern reception of the ancient Greek historian in different fields, especially historiography; I am currently developing a follow-on project that will focus on his place within different traditions of political thought and social science.

(iii) Theoretical and methodological approaches to ancient history, especially social-scientific approaches. I have written about the rhetorical structures of economic history, quantitative methods, translation, and conceptions of time and change; further, my work on Thucydides is directly concerned with the dynamics of the relationship between history and social science.

As well as the above, I am currently working on a short book on Classics: why it matters, and have plans in the longer term for a monograph on classical themes in the work of the German novelist Christa Wolf.

Research collaborations

I am currently an Einstein Visiting Fellow in Berlin, working with a research group at the Freie Universitaet led by Professor Christian Wendt, in conjunction with the TOPOI Excellence Cluster, studying the theme of political change and transformation in fifth-century BCE Greece: 'Bewegung als Prinzip'. This collaboration is primarily research-focused, but we are also working together on the development of passages of Thucydides as a resource for schools, as a basis for encouraging debate around citizenship and other political issues.