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Dr M.R.E. (Merlijn) Breunesse

Postdoctoral researcher
Faculty of Humanities
Capaciteitsgroep Griekse en Latijnse talen en culturen

Visiting address
  • Turfdraagsterpad 9
Postal address
  • Turfdraagsterpad 9
    1012 XT Amsterdam
  • Profile

    I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam. I obtained a BA in Classics (cum laude) from VU University, a MA in Linguistics (magna cum laude) from KU Leuven, and a PhD (magna cum laude) from Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena. My current research focuses on Roman Comedy.

  • Research projects (past and present)

    2022–present Diachronic Metalepsis

    The DFG-funded network on Diachronic Metalepsis (coordinated by the University of Heidelberg) investigates "whether and how specific metaleptic phenomena (transgressions of narrative boundaries) take different forms and functions in different historical contexts and to what extent one can trace continuities and developments". Within the network, which analyses texts from different time periods, I focus on the metaleptic quality of the comedies of the ancient Roman playwright Plautus. I examine the various kinds of metalepsis found in Plautus' plays and their effect on the spectators, and I address the nature of metalepsis in drama in general.

    Diachronic Metalepsis Project

    2022–present Constructing Fantastical Worlds: From Antiquity to the Present

    Together with my colleagues at the University of Amsterdam (Caterina Fossi and Koen Vacano), I organized a workshop in June/July 2022 about the construction of fantastical worlds throughout time. The workshop explored, from various theoretical and methodological perspectives, the techniques and devices used to build fantastical worlds in ancient and medieval literature, contemporary theatre, and modern games. We are currently preparing the edited volume.

    2019–present Common ground management in Roman Comedy

    As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, I study anchoring devices in ancient Roman comedy. I am especially interested in the strategies used by the comic poets Plautus and Terence to keep their spectators engaged and entertained. My research is part of the Anchoring Innovation project, in which I collaborate with scholars from various disciplines to investigate how new ideas are grounded in old knowledge in the ancient world. As part of this project, I spent January of 2020 at the Laboratoire d'Analyse Statistique des Langues Anciennes (LASLA) of the University of Liège.

    Anchoring Innovation LASLA Project: Common ground management in Roman Comedy

    2016–2019 Spatial deixis in (diachronic) language development

    My doctoral research focused on deixis. Based on a sample of 180 languages, I investigated the syntax, semantics, and iconicity of spatial demonstratives worldwide. Moreover, based on corpus data, I analyzed the (inter)subjectivity of demonstratives in Latin. This resulted in a PhD thesis titled Demonstratives in space and discourse: A synchronic and Diachronic analysis. My PhD project was part of the DComm European Training Network, a highly international research network that focused on deictic communication in various disciplines (linguistics, (developmental) psychology, neuroscience, robotic engineering, architecture). During this project, I completed research stays at the University of Aarhus (Denmark) and the University of Manchester (UK).

    DComm ETN Project: Spatial deixis in (diachronic) language development
  • CV

    2019–present: Postdoctoral researcher (University of Amsterdam)

    Project title: Common ground management in Roman comedy

    Anchoring Innovation project (NWO gravitation grant, 2017) (

    2016–2019: Doctoral candidate (Friedrich Schiller University Jena)

    PhD obtained (magna cum laude) in January 2020

    Thesis: Demonstratives in space and discourse: A synchronic and diachronic analysis

    Marie Skłodowska-Curie ESR in the DComm European Training Network (

    2015–2016: MA in linguistics (KU Leuven)

    MA obtained (magna cum laude) in September 2016

    2011–2015: BA in Latin and Ancient Greek Language and Literature (VU University Amsterdam)

    BA obtained (cum laude) in July 2015

  • Teaching experience

    I have taught and designed several courses in Latin language and linguistics at the University of Amsterdam. I have also taught and designed Latin language courses for high school teachers as part of the Alfa4all/SCHOLAE-project, and I will teach Livy at the Amsterdam Summer School of Classics. I obtained my BKO (University Teaching Qualification) in 2021.


    Latin for high school teachers II (Alfa4all/SCHOLAE)


    Livy (Amsterdam Summer School of Classics)

    Latin for high school teachers II (Alfa4all/SCHOLAE)


    Latin linguistics (UvA)

    Latin for beginners II (UvA)


    Latin for beginners II (UvA)

    Amsterdam Summer School of Classics Alfa4all/SCHOLAE
  • Publications


    • Breunesse, M. R. E. (Accepted/In press). Demonstrative reference in Plautus. Brill.
    • Breunesse, M. R. E., & Fantoli, M. (Accepted/In press). Quia, quoniam, and information management in Plautus. Journal of Latin Linguistics.
    • van Gils, L. W., & Breunesse, M. R. E. (Accepted/In press). Cicero and political agency in Late-Republican Rome. In I. Sluiter, & S. Castelli (Eds.), Agents of change Brill.


    • Breunesse, M. (2021). (Inter)subjectification and the Latin demonstratives: A corpus study. In A. M. M. Rodríguez (Ed.), Linguisticae dissertationes: Current Perspectives on Latin Grammar, Lexicon and Pragmatics. Selected Papers from the 20th International Colloquium on Latin Linguistics (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain,June 17-21, 2019) (pp. 765-782). Ediciones Clásicas. [details]
    • Breunesse, M. R. E. (2021). Haec Urbs est Thebae: Proximal deixis in the prologue to Plautus' Amphitruo. Mnemosyne.


    • Diessel, H., & Breunesse, M. (2020). A typology of demonstrative clause linkers. In Å. Næss, A. Margetts, & Y. Treis (Eds.), Demonstratives in discourse (pp. 305-340). (Topics at the grammar-discourse interface; Vol. 6). Language Science Press. [details]


    • Breunesse, M. R. E. (2019). Cicero vs. Mark Antony: Identity construction and ingroup/outgroup formation in Philippics One and Three. In L. Gils, C. Kroon, & R. Risselada (Eds.), Clause and discourse (pp. 448-463). De Gruyter.


    • Breunesse, M. (2021). Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR) Postdoc Scholarship.


    • Breunesse, M. (2022-2023). DFG Network on Diachronic Metalepsis.
    • Breunesse, M. (2019-). OIKOS National Research School in Classical Studies in The Netherlands, Research School OIKOS.
    • Breunesse, M. (2019). Anchoring Innovation.

    Talk / presentation

    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) (5-2022). Immersion in Sosia's battle narrative (Am. 203-261), Plautus from Page to Stage II.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) (5-2022). Deixis and the blend of reality and fiction in Plautine drama, 21st International Colloquium of Latin Linguistics, Santiago de Compostela.
    • van Gils, L. (speaker) & Breunesse, M. (speaker) (15-4-2021). Cicero and political agency in Late-Republican Rome, Agents of Change.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) (22-11-2019). Anchoring demonstratieven in Latijns drama, Biannual Colloquium of the OIKOS research Group ‘The language of Literature’, Katwijk aan Zee.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) & Diessel, H. (speaker) (7-2019). Iconicity in spatial deixis: A cross-linguistic study of 180 demonstrative systems, Deictic Communication: Theory and Application, Norwich.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) (6-2019). Intersubjectivity in the Latin demonstratives: A diachronic corpus study, 20th International Colloquium on Latin Linguistics, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) & Bloom, B. (speaker) (7-2018). The role of (inter)subjectification in the development of the Norwegian preproprial article into the psychologically distal demonstrative, 20th International Congress of Linguists, Cape Town.
    • Diessel, H. (speaker) & Breunesse, M. (speaker) (7-2018). Demonstratives: Sound symbolism and grammaticalization, Historical and comparative linguistics in Jena, Jena.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) & Diessel, H. (speaker) (15-6-2018). A typology of clause-combining demonstratives, Discourse Functions of Demonstratives, Oslo.
    • Breunesse, M. (invited speaker) (5-2018). Cicero vs. Mark Antony: Identity construction in Philippics I and III, University of Belgrade.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) (6-2017). Demonstrative typology, Language as a Form of Action, Rome.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) (4-2017). Cicero vs. Mark Antony: Identity construction and outgroup formation in Philippics I and III., 19th International Colloquium on Latin Linguistics, Munich.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) (11-2015). Referent identification in Latin: The function of the demonstrative ille., Biannual Conference of the OIKOS Research Group 'The Language of Literature', Katwijk aan Zee.


    • Breunesse, M. (organiser), Fossi, C. (organiser) & Vacano, K. (organiser) (30-6-2022 - 1-7-2022). Constructing Fantastical Worlds: From Antiquity to the Present. Workshop on Constructing Fantastical Worlds: From Antiquity to the Present (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Breunesse, M. (organiser) (10-2018). DComm Workshop on Dissemination and Academic Skills, Jena (organising a conference, workshop, ...).


    • Breunesse, M. R. E. (2020). Demonstratives in space and discourse: A synchronic and diachronic analysis.
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    No ancillary activities