Fellow 2023/2024Kate Cooper

Fellowship Term 04/2024 – 06/2024

Ancient Historian Kate Cooper is Professor of History at Royal Holloway, University of London. She previously taught at the University of Manchester (1995-2017) and Barnard College, Columbia University (1992-94), and was educated at Princeton University (Ph. D. 1993), Harvard University (M. T. S. 1986), and Wesleyan University (B. A. 1982). 

Her books include Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women (London: Atlantic Books, 2013), The Fall of the Roman Household (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), The Virgin and The Bride: Idealized Womanhood in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996), and the forthcoming Queens of a Fallen World: The Lost Women of Augustine’s Confessions (New York and London: Basic Books, 2023). 

Previous grants, awards, and prizes include the Shelby Cullom Davis Fellowship (2020-21), the Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (2012-15), the Research Councils UK Global Uncertainties Fellowship (2009-12), and the Rome Prize of the American Academy in Rome.

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Kate Cooper

Meta-Temporality in Early Christian Literature: an aspect of the apocalyptic imaginary?

This project asks a simple question: Did expectation of the coming end-time change how the early Christians perceived their relationship to characters of the Christian past? The hypothesis I want to test is that early Christian writers of the post-apostolic period (understood here as the second to sixth centuries C.E.) sought to represent time in a way that created fluidity between the past, the present, and the future, and that they developed a distinctive narratology in which appealing heroes and heroines could create a bridge for the story consumer to move among these timeframes. My aim in this is to shed new light on the long-standing question of what links apocalypticism to radical movements. Without discarding received concepts such as that of eschatological reversal as an axiom, I am interested in how the sense of ‘folded time’ can allow the story consumer to move in and out of the present, and how this encouraged a sense of moral independence from the power structures of the present, even as it introduced its own power dynamic.