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Prof Catharine Edwards

  • Overview



    • PhD, University of Cambridge

    Professional memberships

    • Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies (member of the editorial board for Journal of Roman Studies 2009-2014)

    • Classical Association


  • Research


    Research interests

    • •Subjectivity, gender, self-construction
    • •The younger Seneca, especially his Letters
    • •Cicero, especially his letters
    • •Roman cultural history
    • •Responses to the city of Rome in antiquity and later periods
    • •Classical receptions in the nineteenth century

    Research overview

    My work focuses on the cultural history of the Roman world, particularly Rome in the late republic and early principate. The complex literary strategies of Roman texts (I have worked particularly on Seneca, Ovid and more recently Cicero) are an intrinsic part of that world’s fabric. I am interested in the ways in which conceptions of gender and other aspects of personal and social identity operate through, and are inflected by, language.

    Another important strand in my research has been the reception of antiquity in later centuries, particularly the C19th, and how receptions of antiquity are implicated in strategies of cultural formation and self-construction (I have published on the reception of Rome in Gibbon, in Mme de Stael, T.B.Macaulay, Nathaniel Hawthorne and in C19th guidebooks, particularly the work of Augustus Hare).

    Research clusters and groups

    • Mind and body

    Post doctoral staff

    • Dr Caroline Barron
  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students who are interested in undertaking research in any of my areas of research interest.

    Current Supervisions

    • Joint Principal Supervisor for 1 Birkbeck students
    • Principal Supervisor for 3 Birkbeck students
    • Second Supervisor for 1 Birkbeck students


    I contribute to a wide range of modules on Roman history, Latin literature and the reception of classical antiquity. 

    Teaching modules

    • Introduction to Classical Culture (HICL074D7)
    • Latin set book (A) (HICL165S6)
    • The Empire of Letters: Correspondence in the Roman World (HICL203S6)
    • The politics of culture in Neronian Rome (SSHC309S7)
    • The Ancient World (SSHC404S4)
  • Publications




    Book Section

    • Edwards, Catharine (2021) Luxury (luxuria). In: Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199381135.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2020) The epistolographic self: the role of the individual in Seneca’s letters. In: Niehoff, M. and Levinson, J. (eds.) Self, Self-Fashioning and Individuality in Late Antiquity. Culture, Religion and Politics in the Greco-Roman World. Tubingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck. ISBN 9783161589904. (In Press)
    • Edwards, Catharine (2018) Conversing with the dead, corresponding with the dead: friendship and philosophical community in Seneca's Letters. In: Ceccarelli, P. and Doering, L. and Fögen, T. and Gildenhard, I. (eds.) Letters and Communities: Studies in the Socio-Political Dimensions of Ancient Epistolography. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 325-351. ISBN 9780198804208.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2018) Gibbon and the city of Rome. In: O'Brien, K. and Young, B. (eds.) The Cambridge Companion to Edward Gibbon. Cambridge Companions to Literature. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 62-77. ISBN 9781107625020.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2018) On not being in Rome: exile and displacement in Seneca's Prose. In: Fitzgerald, W. and Spentzou, E. (eds.) The Production of Space in Latin Literature. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 169-194. ISBN 9780198768098.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2017) The romance of Roman error: encountering antiquity in Hawthorne's "The Marble Faun". In: Dufallo, B. (ed.) Roman Error: Classical Reception and the Problem of Rome's Flaws. Classical Presences. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 127-152. ISBN 9780198803034.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2017) Saturnalian exchanges: Seneca, Horace and satiric advice. In: Stöckinger, M. and Winter, K. and Zanker, A. (eds.) Horace and Seneca: Interactions, Interests, Interpretations. Beiträge zur Altertumskunde. Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter. pp. 73-89. ISBN 9783110524024.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2014) Death and time. In: Damschen, G. and Heil, A. (eds.) Brill's Companion to Seneca. Brill's Companions in Classical Studies. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. ISBN 9789004154612.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2013) Tacitus and the city in ruins. In: Erdkamp, P. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Rome. Cambridge Companions to the Ancient World. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521720786.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2012) The return to Rome: desire and loss in Staël's Corinne. In: Saunders, T. and Martindale, C. and Pite, R. and Skoie, M. (eds.) Romans and Romantics. Classical Presences. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 183-202. ISBN 9780199588541.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2009) Free yourself! Slavery, freedom and the self in Seneca's letters. In: Bartsch, S. and Wray, D. (eds.) Seneca and the Self. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 139-159. ISBN 9780521888387.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2009) Slavery, freedom and the self in Seneca’s letters. In: Bartsch, S. and Wray, D. (eds.) Seneca and the Self. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 139-159. ISBN 9780521888387.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2008) Introduction. In: Lives of the Caesars. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199537563.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2008) Possessing Rome: the politics of ruins in Roma capitale. In: Hardwick, L. and Stray, C. (eds.) A Companion to Classical Receptions. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 345-359. ISBN 9781405151672.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2008) Self-scrutiny and self-transformation in Seneca's letters. In: Fitch, J. (ed.) Seneca. Oxford Readings in Classical Studies. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199282098.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2007) Acting and self-actualisation in Neronian Rome. In: Easterling, P.E. and Hall, E.M. (eds.) Greek and Roman actors. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521045506.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2007) Translating empire? Macaulay's Rome. In: Edwards, Catharine (ed.) Roman Presences: receptions of Rome in European culture, 1789-1945. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 70-87. ISBN 9780521036177.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2006) Response to Shadi Bartsch. In: Bartsch, S. and Bartsherer, T. (eds.) Erotikon: essays on eros ancient and modern. Chicago, USA: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226038391.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2005) Epistolography. In: Harrison, S. (ed.) A Companion to Latin Literature. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. pp. 270-283. ISBN 631235299.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2005) Seneca's aging body. In: Hopkins, A. and Wyke, M. (eds.) Roman bodies: Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century. London, UK: British School at Rome. ISBN 9780904152449.
    • Edwards, Catharine (2003) Incorporating the alien: the art of conquest. In: Edwards, Catharine and Woolf, Greg (eds.) Rome the cosmopolis. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 44-70. ISBN 9780521030113.
    • Edwards, Catharine (1999) The suffering body: philosophy and pain in Seneca's Letters. In: Porter, J. L. (ed.) Constructions of the Classical Body. Michigan, USA: Michigan University Press. pp. 252-268. ISBN 9780472109081.
    • Edwards, Catharine (1998) L'imaginaire de l'image de Rome. In: Dupont, F. and Auvray-Assayas, Clara (eds.) Images Romaines. Etudes de littérature ancienne. le comptoir des presses d'universités. pp. 235-245. ISBN 9782728802432.
    • Edwards, Catharine (1997) Unspeakable professions: public performance and prostitution. In: Hallett, J.P. and Skinner, M. (eds.) Roman Sexualities. Princeton University Press. pp. 66-95. ISBN 9780691011783.
    • Edwards, Catharine (1996) The roads to Rome. In: Liversidge, M.J.H. (ed.) Imagining Rome: British artists and Rome in the nineteenth century. London, UK: Merrell Holberton Publishers. ISBN 9781858940298.
    • Edwards, Catharine (1994) Beware of imitations: acting and the subversion of imperial identity. In: Elsner, J. and Masters, J. (eds.) Reflections of Nero: culture, history & representation. Duckworth. pp. 83-97. ISBN 9780807821435.
  • Business and community

    Business and community


    I have taken part on many occasions in BBC Radio 4's 'In our time',  contributing to episodes on:

    ·       Agrippina the Younger

    ·       Cleopatra

    ·       Roman Britain

    ·       Virgil’s Aeneid

    ·       Tacitus and the decadence of Rome

    ·       Pliny the Younger

    ·       The Augustan Age

    ·       Seneca the Younger

    I presented a TV series ‘Mothers, murderers and mistresses: empresses of ancient Rome’ (3 episodes, each 60 minutes, Hotsauce TV) first broadcast BBC Four.

    Because of my expertise on Seneca, I am regularly asked to speak or write on the applicability of Stoic practices to modern life, as in this piece I wrote for London's Evening Standard: