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Maria Wyke


Maria Wyke

Professor of Latin

and co-director of the Centre for Research into the Dynamics of Civilisation (CREDOC)

email: m.wyke@ucl.ac.uk external telephone: 020 7679 7491 (internal: 27491)

Research interests: Latin literature (especially Roman love poetry); ancient gender and sexuality; Rome on film; classical reception studies (esp. classics and popular culture); ancient and modern civilisations.

Research supervision: I welcome phd students with interests in any of the above areas. Recent topics I have supervised include the divinity of Augustus in Roman poetry; translations of Ovid's Ars Amatoria in early modern England; Roman emotions and Ben-Hur in literature, on stage and on screen; Thermopylae in Hollywood cinema; the concept of the mirror in Graeco-Roman culture; the modern reception of the myth of Scylla. I regularly co-supervise with colleagues in other departments, such as Archaeology, Anthropology, English and Film Studies.

Teaching in 2017 to 2018

At undergraduate level, I am teaching Virgil & pastoral poetry (a close reading of the Eclogues) and Latin Poetry & its Translations (a study of Horace's Odes and its translations from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century). 

At MA level, I direct the core course for our degree in The Reception of the Classical World that considers the importance of Reception Studies for Classics, and investigates case studies of reception from within antiquity to the twenty-first century (from literature to political and intellectual thought, visual arts to museum exhibitions, theatre to film and television). I also teach an MA module on Ancient Rome on Film (from early experiments through to the modern blockbuster, we explore what distinguishes cinematic histories of Rome from other historical forms and why they matter). 

IRIS research profile

I was born in London to a Mexican mother and an Australian father. Educated at Catholic schools, I studied Classics at Oxford (where I began ancient Greek) and then at Cambridge. My interest in gender, sexuality, and desire in Roman love poetry was encouraged by the supervision of John Henderson, and from contact with enthusiastic and welcoming academics in the United States. After a year out to study film and television at the British Film Institute (1992-93), I went to the University of Reading, where I was fortunate to pursue my dual interest in Rome on film and Latin love poetry, both in teaching and research.

I arrived at UCL in September 2005 as Chair of Latin where I have been developing and enhancing the department’s interests in both Latin Literature and Classical Reception Studies. I am also Co-Director of the Centre for Research in the Dynamics of Civilisation (CREDOC) and a member of the Executive Board for UCL's Grand Challenge of Cultural Understanding (GCCU).

British Museum lecture video: 'Desirability and Domination: Greek Sculpture and the Modern Male Body' (29 June 2011); watch Caesar in the USA & Antiquity in Silent Cinema (23 December 2012); listen to podcast on Rome and cinema in University of Exeter series The Distant Pasts: Adventures in an Alternative Antiquity.

Larger Publications:

  • co-author with Christopher Pelling of Twelve Voices from Greece and Rome: Ancient Ideas for Modern Times (OUP, 2014)
  • co-editor with Pantelis Michelakis of Antiquity in Silent Cinema (CUP, 2013)
  • Caesar in the USA (University of California Press, 2012)
  • co-editor with Luke Houghton of Perceptions of Horace: A Roman Poet and His Readers (2009)
  • Caesar: A Life in Western Culture (Granta, 2007; University of Chicago, 2008)
  • editor of Julius Caesar in Western Culture (Blackwell, 2006)
  • co-editor of Roman Bodies: From Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century, with Andrew Hopkins (BSR, 2005)
  • The Roman Mistress: Ancient and Modern Representations (OUP, 2002)
  • co-editor of The Uses and Abuses of Antiquity, with Professor Michael Biddiss (Peter Lang, 1999)
  • editor of Parchments of Gender: Deciphering the Bodies of Antiquity (OUP, 1998)
  • editor of Gender and the Body in the Ancient Mediterranean (Blackwell, 1998)
  • Projecting the Past: Ancient Rome, Cinema and History (Routledge, 1997)
  • co-editor of An Illusion of the Night: Women in Ancient Societies, with Leonie Archer and Susan Fischler (Macmillan Press, 1994)

Projects in Progress

  • an interdisciplinary research project Ancient Rome in Silent Cinemathat follows on from my collaboration with Pantelis Michelakis on the investigation of the Ancient World in Silent Cinema. I am involved in a large-scale, interdisciplinary study of representations of ancient Rome in silent cinema that will be published as a monograph with University of Michigan Press. 
  • co-editing with Monika Wózniak a collection of essays on the Polish novel Quo vadis and its rich reception history.

For recent screenings of silent films set in ancient Rome see the Oxford Silent Film Society (May 2017) and a workshop on a silent film about Caligula held June 2017 at the Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna. I was also involved in the conference (and associated film screening) Alma-Tadema: Antiquity at Home and on Screen (20 to 21 October 2017).