Diana Spencer

Professor of Classics and Dean of Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences in Birmingham, United Kingdom

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My professional life in academic leadership is characterised by a determination to support the next generation of scholars and change-makers — see more at http://dianajspencer.com/leadership-roles/.

My research is fired by an interest in what we think ancient Romans thought about themselves (as reflected in texts), how they conceptualized themselves as a people, and responded to (and were shaped by) the world they lived in. See me talk about this at https://youtu.be/LaG3gqXr0Ak.

I came to the UK, from Ireland, as a postgraduate student. After an MA (University of London), I went on to doctoral study in Classics at the University of Cambridge, where I worked on the still off-centre author Q. Curtius Rufus and his very Roman ‘history’ of Alexander the Great – elements of this PhD thesis inspired my first book, The Roman Alexander: Reading a Cultural Myth (tackling the idea of cultural identity by exploring élite Roman obsession with Alexander).

I first joined the University of Birmingham in 1998, and enjoy how the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology still offers me the opportunity to draw inspiration for new research from my teaching, and vice versa.

My research and teaching embrace topics such as Latin lyric verse, historiography and hermeneutics, epic, philosophy, epistolography, and rhetoric. Most recently, having had the chance to develop a series of courses focused in different ways on the ancient city, I have been writing books and articles on the city of Rome itself as conjured up in texts from antiquity to the present. This has led me to explore the relationship between urban Rome and the literature it inspires, and presently, vocabularies of space and the process of translation.

My newest book (Varro's Guide to Being Roman) draws many of these strands together and focuses on M. Terentius Varro, one of the late Roman Republic's greatest public intellectuals.

  • Work
    • University of Birmingham
  • Education
    • St John's College, Cambridge