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James McNamara

James McNamara is working on a project funded by the FWF’s Lise Meitner fellowship programme, entitled ‘Antiquity and the Present in William Camden’s Annales’. The project offers a new appraisal of the largely overlooked Latin text of Camden’s influential Elizabethan history, concentrating on Camden’s use of classical historiography, in particular the works of Tacitus.

James has previously worked on imperial Roman literature, with a focus on historical writing and ethnography. He has published on Tacitus, Pliny the Younger and Lucan. In addition he has published work on portrayals of ancient Germania in modern Germany, including educational texts, theatre and screenplays. He is a contributor to the forthcoming Tacitus Encyclopedia and with Victoria Pagán has co-edited a volume of essays on the marvellous within the works of Tacitus.

James gained his PhD at Cambridge in 2014 and has since held postdoctoral roles in Wellington and as DAAD-Prime research fellow at the universities of Potsdam and Florence. He has extensive teaching experience across a wide range of Latin and Greek language and literature topics, having served as Director of Studies in Classics at Fitzwilliam College and Corpus Christi College in the University of Cambridge (2015-16), and lead Tutor in Latin at Trinity College, Oxford (2018-19). He has taught Latin and Roman history at Te Herenga Waka, Victoria University of Wellington, and taught on Tacitus’ Germania at the University of Rostock. In 2022 he served as a historian for the Waitangi Tribunal Unit in the New Zealand Ministry of Justice, providing research support for several of the Tribunal’s inquiries.

Publications in peer-reviewed journals

  • (2021) ‘Pliny, Tacitus and the Monuments of Pallas’

Classical Quarterly 71.1, pp. 308-329

Open access

DOI: 10.1017/S0009838821000203

  • (2020) ‘Portrayal of Germani in German Latin Textbooks, 1945-1989’

International Journal of the Classical Tradition, 22 pages, published 2 November 2020. Open access. Yet to be assigned to a volume of the journal.

DOI: 10.1007/s12138-020-00581-0

  • (2020) ‘The Portrayal of Germani in German Latin Textbooks, 1989-2009’

Syllecta Classica 30, 73-108

DOI: 10.1353/syl.2020.0003

  • (2015) ‘Lehrbuchgermanen: the representation of the Germani in Latin textbooks in Germany from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century’

Pegasus Onlinezeitschrift 15.1, 83-155

ISSN: 1861-499X

Publications in books

  • (2021) ‘Lost in Germania: The Absence of History in Tacitus’ Ethnography’

In: T. Geue, E. Giusti (eds.) Unspoken Rome: Absences in Latin Literature and its Reception, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 201-18

ISBN: 9781108843041

DOI: 10.1017/9781108913843.012

  • (2021) ‘I confini del mondo nell’Agricola di Tacito’

In:  M.L. Delvigo (ed.) Centro e periferia nella letteratura latina di Roma imperiale. Lingue antiche e Moderne. Strumenti, Udine: Forum editrice universitaria udinese, 35-52

ISBN: 978-88-3283-246-4

  • (2019) ‘The Monstrosity of Cato in Lucan’s Civil War

In: G.M. Chesi, F. Spiegel (eds.) Classical Literature and Posthumanism, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 167-74

DOI: 10.5040/9781350069534.ch-012


Book and chapters

  • (2022) James McNamara & Victoria Emma Pagán (eds.) Tacitus’ Wonders: Empire and Paradox in Ancient Rome, London: Bloomsbury Academic

ISBN: 9781350241749


  • Ten chapters and introduction
  • Based on papers delivered at the conference ‘Tacitus’ Wonders’ that I convened at Victoria University of Wellington, August 2018
  • (2022) ‘Wonders in the Agricola and Germania’ in James McNamara and Victoria Emma Pagán (eds.), Tacitus’ Wonders: Empire and Paradox in Ancient Rome, London: Bloomsbury Academic
  • (2022) [with Victoria Emma Pagán], ‘Introduction’ in Tacitus’ Wonders: Empire and Paradox in Ancient Rome, London: Bloomsbury Academic

Forthcoming: specialist encyclopaedia articles                         

Commissioned by Wiley-Blackwell Press

Submitted to the editor

10 Articles for The Tacitus Encyclopedia, ed. Victoria Pagán

  1. Curtius Montanus, 500 words
  2. Calpurnius Piso, Gaius, 1000 words
  3. Germania, Germani, 3000 words
  4. Ubii, 750 words
  5. Cherusci, 750 words
  6. Batavia, Batavi, 750 words
  7. Bructeri, 750 words
  8. Suebi, 1000 words
  9. Nerthus Tribes, 750 words
  10. Marcomanni, 750 words


‘Politics and Entertainment: Arminius/Hermann on Stage and Screen’ for I. G. Mastrorosa ed. Classics and Public History

Conference organisation:

27-29 August 2018, Victoria University of Wellington

“Tacitus’ Wonders”


Selected conference contributions:

May 2022             Eredità della cultura romana nella cultura moderna, Dipartimento di Storia, Archeologia, Geografia, Arte e Spettacolo, Università degli Studi di Firenze, organised by Prof. I. G. Mastrorosa

Paper: ‘Antiquity and the Present in William Camden’s Annales

Jul. 2021                BioRom conference: ‘Othering and the Other: Performing Identity in the Roman Empire’, Universidade de Évora, Portugal

– Paper: ‘Getting in touch with Rome’s roots: self-othering and the ethnographic tradition’

Mar. 2021            Antiquity and Immersivity, University of Bristol

– Paper: ‘Immersivity and Exoticism: Ecphrastic Rhetoric in Statius’ Silvae and Tacitus’ Germania

Jan. 2021              ‘Centro e periferia nella letteratura latina di Roma imperiale’, Università degli Studi di Udine

– Paper: ‘I confini del mondo nell’Agricola di Tacito’

Nov. 2019             Tacitus Encyclopedia Project seminar, Università degli Studi di Genova

– Paper: ‘Questions of identity: entries on Curtius Montanus and the Suebi’

April 2019             ‘Tacitus for the 21st Century’, Royal Holloway, University of London, convened by Prof. Richard Alston, Dr. Henrietta van Blom and Dr. Siobhan Chomse

– Paper: ‘The fright of the mind: philosophy and its limits in the Agricola and the Germania’

Jan. 2018              Australasian Society for Classical Studies, University of Queensland

– Paper: ‘Tacitus’ Germania and ecphrasis’

June 2017             Unspeaking Volumes: Absence in Latin Texts, University of St Andrews

– Paper: ‘Ethnographic absences in Tacitus’ Germania’

Jan 2017               Australasian Society for Classical Studies, Victoria University of Wellington

– Paper: ‘Tacitus and Claudius the historian’