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Dr James  Corke-Webster

Dr James Corke-Webster

  • Academics
  • Supervisors

Reader in Classics, History and Liberal Arts

Director of the Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies.

Research subject areas

  • History

Contact details


I am a classicist and historian with particular interests in early Christian and late antique history and literature. I studied Classics and Theology at Oxford, Cambridge, and Manchester, before taking up a Fulbright Scholarship at Berkeley. I then held lectureships at Edinburgh and Durham before moving to Kings in 2017.

Research interests and PhD supervision

  • Early Christian history and literature
  • Late antiquity
  • Historiography
  • Hagiography
  • Persecution
  • Epistolography

My first monograph, on Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History, argued that the first narrative of early Christian history used events and individuals from Christianity’s past to create a new vision of Christianity tailored to Eusebius’ fourth century context. I am working on a new study of the persecution of the early Christians that aims to use comparative historiography to transform our understanding of this phenomenon. 

I currently have funded side-projects on hagiography, with Dr. Christa Gray, on governance in the Roman world, with Dr. Lisa Eberle, and on Justin of Rome, with Dr. Ben Kolbeck.


I teach a range of modules in the Departments of Classics, with a focus on Roman history (of the late Republican, early and high imperial, and late antique periods).

I am the Deputy Director of the MA in Global Cultures, and have co-designed a module on "Creative Leadership for Global Challenges".

Expertise and public engagement

I am a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (2019–), a Fellow of the Higher Education Authority (2016–), was elected to the Council of the Roman Society (2018–2021), and the QAA Advisory Group for Classics and Ancient History (2021–). I am also on the editorial board of the Bulletin for the Institute of Classical Studies, and am the Roman History reviewer for the biannual subject reviews in Greece and Rome.

I have appeared on BBC Radio 4's In Our Time ("Early Christian Martyrdom"), as well as a number of podcasts, including the HistoryHit podcast (“Episode 9: Rome and the Mediterranean”) and the Audible series Hijacked Histories (“Episode 1: Caligula and Nero”). I am also a Fellow of The Garden. I regularly speak to students in secondary and tertiary education on a range of topics in Roman and Christian history and literature. I recently organised a series of events covering the A level Classical Civilisation specification, the videos for which can be accessed here.

Selected publications


Eusebius and Empire: Constructing Church and Rome in the Ecclesiastical History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019) [joint winner of the 2018 University of Oxford Faculty of Classics Conington Prize; winner of the 2020 North American Patristics Society First Book Prize; shortlisted for the 2020 Ecclesiastical History Society Best Book Prize].

The Hagiographical Experiment: Developing Discourses of Sainthood. Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae (Leiden, 2020) [co-edited with C. Gray].

Journal Articles

'By Whom Were Early Christians Persecuted?', Past & Present (forthcoming).

'Lactantius and Empire: Political Theology in On the Deaths of the Persecutors', Journal of Late Antiquity 15.2 (2022), 333–366.

‘Emperors, Bishops, Art and Jurisprudence: The Transformation of Law in Eusebius of Caesarea’, Early Mediaeval Europe 27.1 (2019), 12-34.

‘Trouble in Pontus: The Pliny-Trajan Correspondence on the Christians Reconsidered’ TAPA 147.2 (2017), 371-411.

‘The Early Reception of Pliny the Younger in Tertullian of Carthage and Eusebius of Caesarea’, Classical Quarterly 67.1 (2017), 247-262.

‘A Man for the Times: Jesus and the Abgar Correspondence in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History’, Harvard Theological Review 110.4 (2017), 563-587.

‘A Literary Historian: Eusebius of Caesarea and the Martyrs of Lyons and Palestine’, Studia Patristica 66.14 (2013), 191-202.

Book Chapters

‘A Bishop’s Biography: Eusebius of Caesarea’s Life of Constantine’, in K. de Temmerman (ed.) Oxford Handbook of Ancient Biography (Oxford, 2020), 297-312.

‘How to Praise a Christian Emperor: The Panegyrical Experiments of Eusebius of Caesarea’ in A. Omissi & A.J. Ross (eds) Imperial Panegyric from Diocletian to Theodosius (Liverpool, 2020), 143-165.

‘Reading Thecla in Fourth Century Pontus: Violence, Virginity, and Female Autonomy in Gregory of Nyssa's Life of Macrina’, in K. Cooper & J. Wood (eds), The Violence of Small Worlds: Conflict and Social Control in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 2020), 277-298.

‘Introduction’, in Gray & Corke-Webster, The Hagiographical Experiment, 1-26 [co-written with C. Gray].

‘The First Hagiographies: The Life of Antony, the Life of Pamphilus, and the Nature of Saints’, in Gray & Corke-Webster, The Hagiographical Experiment, 29-62.

‘The Roman Persecutions’ in P. Middleton (ed.) The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Christian Martyrdom (Chichester, 2020), 33-50.

‘Conversion, Conflict, and the Drama of Social Reproduction: Narratives of Filial Resistance in Early Christianity and Modern Britain’, in B. Bøgh (ed.), Conversion and Initiation in Antiquity: Shifting Identities – Creating Change (Frankfurt am Main, 2014), 169-183 [co-authored with K. Cooper].

‘Mothers and Martyrdom: Familial Piety and the Model of the Maccabees in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History’, in A. Johnson & J. Schott (eds.), Eusebius of Caesarea: Traditions and Innovations (Cambridge, MA., 2013), 51-82.

‘Author and Authority: Literary Representations of Moral Authority in Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Martyrs of Palestine’, in P. Gemeinhardt & J. Leemans (eds), Christian Martyrdom in Late Antiquity: History and Discourse, Tradition and Religious Identity. Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte 116 (Berlin/New York, 2012), 51-78.

Ten entries in E. Orlin et al. (eds.) The Routledge Encyclopedia of Ancient Mediterranean Religions (London, 2015).