Daniel Baric completed his studies in German, Slavic and Hungarian Studies and History in Paris, Berlin and Budapest. In his PhD thesis, he dealt with the presence of the German language in Croatia in the 19th century. He has been teaching Central European History at the University François-Rabelais (Tours) since 2005. His research focuses on the cultural history of multilingual societies in Central and Eastern Europe from the 19th to the 21st century. His current researches are concerned with the social and intellectual impact of Antiquity in Austria-Hungary, especially in its eastern provinces (Transylvania, Dalmatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina).
Dealing with Diocletian: The Politics and Poetics of Multiple Biographers (17th-21st. century)
What is a biography, what makes the difference between a piece of scholarship and a work of art, and to what extent are those categories immutable? The research project aims first at addressing the fabrication of modern imperial biographies as experiments in reinventing a genre practiced since Antiquity. Diocletian (who reigned from 285 to 305) was an elusive emperor, famous for having persecuted Christians but also for having stepped down from the throne, who since Henry Purcell has been inspiring a whole range of scholars as much as artists. A need for reassessing and narrating his life and death on a stage, in novels and in learned studies, emerged in successive places. The cartography of scholarship and imagination on Diocletian originates in his importance in shaping new visions, from the introduction of neo-classical architecture in London to the Viennese theory on conservation of monuments (Alois Riegl), from highly political issues of imperial governance, faith and tolerance, up to the sense of personal tragedy and the best aesthetics that could aptly convey it. Carving Dalmatian and other stones into sentences has been up to our days, from Spain to Romania, the common craftsmanship of archaeologists, historians and artists. Some writers were archaeologists (Ferenc Móra, 1932), some others reject any willingness to abandon their own vision of Diocletian (Ivan Ivanji, 1973). But the rise of archaeological findings in literature as a poetic device is obvious. The historians who presented Diocletian should be read as authors confronted with the goal of recreating a vanished world with words, using old and new documentation in order to gain new insights. Scholarship and imagination are intertwined in both ways, in significant variations. By observing the transformation of stones into sentences, the frontiers between the historian and the artist should be constantly questioned in the face of a common quest for singularity in the long series imperial vitae.