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Introduction

I grew up in Devon, went to school in Bedford, and studied Classics with Akkadian as an undergraduate at the University of Birmingham. I stayed on as a doctoral student in Ancient History and Archaeology (Assyriology) and then as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow. I spent three years in Finland as a State Archives of Assyria Editor at the University of Helsinki. After teaching at UK universities for three years, I moved to Oxford as a Departmental Lecturer in the Faculty. I was then appointed to the part-time Shillito Fellowship in Assyriology in 2006, alongside a Tutorial Fellowship at St Benet’s Hall (2007-22). I was awarded the title of Associate Professor in 2021 and joined Queen’s as a Senior Research Fellow in 2022.  

Teaching

I teach for the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and give language and text classes in Akkadian and lecture on ancient Middle Eastern religion and literature. As well as teaching small groups of undergraduates and Master’s students across the colleges, I also supervise Master’s and DPhil students.

Research

My broad research interests are in the religion, literature, and intellectual history of ancient Mesopotamia, an area approximately corresponding to modern-day Iraq. Most of the textual sources are written in Akkadian cuneiform on clay tablets from the first millennium BCE. I am particularly interested in cuneiform knowledge production, ritual, and astral mythology in Babylon in the later first millennium BCE, with a focus on the changing fortunes of the Esagil temple under a succession of externally imposed empires. A related research focus is Akkadian literature, including narrative poetry, and its cultural contexts and cuneiform reception over time. My research is closely linked to my teaching and seeks to understand texts and their impact in their ancient cultural settings. 

Publications

List of publications.

Admissions

At Queen’s there is a tradition of more than a century in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and a firm commitment to the subject as an aspect of the College’s long-standing strength in language-based subjects. Students constitute a significant group within the College and find themselves fully involved in the life of the College, which forms a friendly and supportive base for their social and academic activities. The College normally admits about five students each year for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies courses. With Fellows in Chinese and Japanese, as well as the Professor of Egyptology, the College has a special interest in Chinese, Japanese, and Egyptology, but it welcomes applications for all courses taught in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies apart from Arabic (as main course).

The courses

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies embraces a very wide range of courses, including Arabic, Chinese, Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Hebrew Studies, Japanese, Jewish Studies, Persian, Sanskrit, and Turkish. Most of these courses last four years and include a period of one year spent in the relevant country, normally in the second year of the course. The College has generous funds available to support the period abroad for language study.

Candidates are not expected to have prior knowledge of any Near, Middle or Far Eastern language, although some candidates may have had an opportunity to study these beforehand, and sometimes up to A-level standard. The BA course is designed to accommodate such differences, and the intensive nature of the teaching means that undergraduates with no previous knowledge soon catch up with those who have studied before. While it is helpful to have a foreign language at A-level, it is not a requirement as long as a candidate can show genuine interest and linguistic aptitude. Both the College and the Oriental Institute can advise on the suitability of A-level subjects. Courses leading to the BA in Oriental Studies vary according to the language chosen.

Teaching

In the case of Chinese and Japanese, teaching is provided both in College and in the China Centre, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, or Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, while for other courses teaching may take place in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, the Griffith Institute, or the Ashmolean Museum. Facilities within the College include a substantial collection on relevant topics in the College library and the Peet Library in Egyptology. The teaching provided by Dirk Meyer, the Fellow in Chinese, covers classical Chinese language, culture and philosophy, whilst Jennifer Guest covers pre-modern Japanese literature and culture; Hu Bo teaches modern Chinese. Richard Bruce Parkinson teaches most aspects of the course in Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies.

Applying

Candidates for course combinations which include Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew and Persian will need to take the Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT). The registration deadline is 15 October. As at all colleges, candidates are required to submit two pieces of written work, preferably of two different kinds, of which at least one should be in English. This should normally be marked schoolwork.

There will be at least two interviews, normally one subject-related interview at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies or China Centre and one interview at the College. The college interview will include discussion of a short text, supplied immediately before or during the interview, which is used as a prompt for analysis and for a tutorial-style discussion. This may lead on to more general discussion, for example about the candidate’s interest in their chosen course and what kinds of related reading or thinking they have done so far. We are looking for candidates with a genuine commitment to cultural and linguistic study, openness to studying new areas, and an ability to form independent judgements on what they have read. We are not looking for any one particular set of knowledge or experiences, and it is not necessary to have previously studied any particular language or subject at school. Above all, we are seeking to assess potential.

Courses

  • BA (Hons) Oriental Studies
  • BA (Hons) Classics and Oriental Studies
  • BA (Hons) European and Middle Eastern Languages