History Professor Receives Fulbright

Contact: Ralph Derickson

Photo of David M. Olster
David M. Olster

""

Olster said the period about which he writes is the fifth to seventh centuries, but that the process of authority legitimating itself by establishing and controlling the discourse within which contemporary conditions are discussed has “rather more universal application.”

""

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 9, 2004) -- David M. Olster, a University of Kentucky history professor, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to perform research on the use of religious rhetoric as a self-legitimating tool at the University of Tuebingen in Tuebingen, Germany.

Olster, who earned his doctorate in history from the University of Chicago in 1985, has a joint faculty appointment in the UK Honors Program. He teaches late Roman and Byzantine history.

“I study the relationship between events that create historical discontinuity like political instability, military defeat and economic collapse, and the rhetorical strategies that governor or other invested authorities use to maintain a fictional continuity that legitimates their political and social control,” Olster said. “In other words,” he added, “I study how authorities present themselves as successes even in periods when events would seem to demonstrate the opposite.”

Olster said the period about which he writes is the fifth to seventh centuries, but that the process of authority legitimating itself by establishing and controlling the discourse within which contemporary conditions are discussed has “rather more universal application.”

“One could imagine,” Olster continued, “how this line of analysis might apply even today to institutions that due to financial difficulties are declining, but the authorities of those institutions insist for public consumption that the exact opposite is occurring.”

Olster has written two books: “The Politics of Usurpation: Rhetoric and Revolution in Seventh-Century Byzantium” and “Roman Defeat, Christian Response, and the Literary Construction of the Jew.” He has also written about 20 additional articles on his research topics. Olster has taught at UK College of Arts and Sciences since 2001.


Back to Campus News Homepage