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Tom Forster

Tom Forster

Department: History

Supervisor: Dr Carl Watkins

College: Selwyn

AHRC Subject Area:

Title of Thesis: Julius Caesar and Fortune in Twelfth-Century England


Biography:

My higher education began in the United States, where I studied Liberal Arts with a major in History of Art in Columbus, Ohio, achieving a 4.0 GPA. Later, I returned to the UK to read for a BA in Medieval and Early Modern History at Aberystwyth University. There, I won the Alun Lewis Memorial Prize for the best performance by a second-year undergraduate, the Joseph Hamwee Prize for the best performance by a third-year undergraduate, and the Alun G Davis Dissertation Prize for my study, 'Antiquity in Orderic Vitalis' Historia Ecclesiastica'. My BA studies were punctuated by a semester studying Latin and Greek Classics at UC Berkeley, California. During this time I also completed an intensive course in Byzantine Greek.

I came to Cambridge as James Pantyfedwen scholar at Downing College to read for an MPhil in Medieval History. My MPhil dissertation, titled 'Fortuna in the historical works of Orderic Vitalis, William of Malmesbury, and Henry of Huntingdon', was awarded the K Wood-Legh Prize for the best dissertation submitted by an MPhil candidate in Medieval History.

My doctoral thesis examines how twelfth-century historians developed a new analytical framework, predicated on fortune, which in turn helped redefine their understanding of the mechanics underpinning the temporal manifestation of providence. I contend that their hitherto unacknowledged insights into fortune's causes represent profound and remarkably early solutions to fundamental theological and philosophical issues relating to humanity's lot in our post-lapsarian state. These solutions predate, and in many respects outshine those proffered by the great rationalist theologians of the scholastic golden age. The thesis hopes to help reverse scholarship's tendency to overlook medieval historical writing's significance as expositor of cutting-edge ethical, cosmological, and theological thought.

Other academic interests

My research interests span a range of disciplines and periods, from classical Latin literature in and of itself, to twelfth-century historiography, theology, and philosophy, to Early Modern classical reception.