Department of Greek & Latin


Mairead McAuley

Lecturer in Classics

Mairéad McAuley

Email: mairead.mcauley@ucl.ac.uk

Research interests:  Early imperial Roman literature, esp. Neronian and Flavian, tragedy and epic; gender and genre in Latin poetry; modern receptions of Senecan tragedy; feminism and critical theory.

IRIS research profile

I joined UCL in 2013 after a PhD and Junior Research Fellowship at King’s College Cambridge which I held alongside postdoctoral fellowships in South Africa (at UKZN and University of Johannesburg).  I subsequently took a four-year career break to raise a family and returned to academia in 2017.
My research focuses on Latin literature, especially from the Augustan to Flavian periods,  which I combine with a broader interest in gender, literary theory and the Classical tradition. My recent monograph, Reproducing Rome: Motherhood in Virgil, Ovid, Seneca and Statius (OUP, 2016) examines the rich symbolic importance of maternity in imperial Roman epic, philosophy and tragedy, genres preoccupied with origins and foundations.  It also explores Roman cultural anxieties surrounding the figure of the mother and the critical possibilities and challenges of seeking a maternal perspective in these male-authored texts.

My current projects coalesce around ideas of the body, touch and affect in Roman literature. My next monograph is study of the hand (manus) in Roman literature and culture. Drawing on both texts, performance culture and the visual arts, I explore how hands take on complex figurative meanings in Roman thought, as expressions of legal and social relationships, physical extensions of the orator’s or poet’s voice, instruments of creativity and tools of horrifying violence.

Other projects explore ambivalent or negative affects both in and towards classical texts: the function of ‘hate’ in Roman love poetry in the age of #MeToo; and the use of the trope of maternal grief in Statius and Seneca as a source of innovation for poets labouring under the weight of literary tradition.

I would be interested in supervising postgraduate students in any area of Latin literature. I am also Admissions Tutor for the Department of Greek and Latin and I am happy to give school talks on a range of texts and topics, such as gender in ancient Rome, Ovid, Virgil and the body in antiquity.



  • 'Matermorphoses: Motherhood and the Ovidian Epic Subject,' EuGeSta: Journal on Gender Studies in Antiquity, no. 2 (2012). read >
  • 'Specters of Medea: The Rhetoric of Motherhood and Stepmotherhood in Seneca's Phaedra', Helios 39.1 (2012), 37-72
  • 'Epic Masculinity in Transition: Gender and Genre in Statius' Achilleid.' Akroterion 55 (2010): 37-60. read >
  • 'Self and Mother: Critical Approaches to Maternity in Roman Literature' (review essay) Scholia 20 (2011).
  • ‘Breaking Apart Like the World: Seneca and Psychoanalyis.’ Canadian Comparative Literature Journal 40.1 (2013) 71-87. read >
  • ‘Uncanny mothers in Roman Literature’ in Alison Sharrock and Alison Keith, eds. Maternal Conceptions in Classical Literature and Philosophy (University of Toronto Press, 2020) 26-45.

Working papers

  • Dextrae iungere dextram:  Virgil, Venus, and the affective dynamics of touch in the Aeneid,’ in preparation for Vergilius special issue, Virgil and the Feminine.
  • Seneca’s Tragic Hands: Manual Symbolism in Seneca’s Hercules Furens.
  • Odi et amo: Hatred in Roman Love Elegy.

Agrippina the Younger, Mother of Nero: Fact or Fiction - Dr Mairéad McAuley. Part of the Imperial Power in the Roman Empire series.

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