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Overview

Dr Erica Bexley

Associate Professor

PhD (Cornell) MA, BA Hons (Melbourne)


Affiliations
AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Associate Professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient History204 38 North Bailey+44 (0) 191 33 41687

Biography

I am an Associate Professor of Latin literature with a special interest in Roman drama – both tragedy and comedy – and in literature of the Neronian age. Educated in Australia and the U.S., I came to the U.K. in 2014, working briefly at Cambridge and then at Swansea before taking up my post at Durham in 2017. I have published a number of articles and book chapters on Senecan tragedy, Lucan’s Pharsalia, Plautus, Terence, and ancient Roman performance culture. My fascination for theatre first took root during my undergraduate days, when I participated in numerous amateur productions of classical plays, and although I no longer declaim (badly!) on stage, this early experience of theatrical performance still underpins my research. Specifically, my work on Roman comedy and tragedy is governed by the conviction that plays are not just texts but events, and that enactment is a crucial part of their meaning.

My first book, Seneca's Characters, addresses one of the most enduring yet least theorised elements of literary study: fictional character and its relationship to actual, human selfhood. Where does the boundary between 'character' and 'person' lie? Are characters purely formal elements of literature, or can they be considered 'human analogues', and are these two categories mutually exclusive? My monograph examines such questions through the lens of Senecan tragedy, focusing on themes of coherence (aesthetic and ethical), exemplarity (role models and role-play), physical appearance (bodies as ciphers for emotions versus bodies as texts) and autonomy (self-determination versus constraint). 

Following on from this work, my research branches in two directions. My continued interest in Roman drama encompasses an introductory volume on the Octavia for Bloomsbury's Companions to Greek and Roman Tragedy, and a monograph on repetition, substitution and doubling on the Roman stage, from Plautus to Pseudo-Seneca. The second branch of my research deals with independence and autocratic power in Seneca, drawing on the field of legal humanities. I have edited, with my colleague Dr. Ziogas, a volume on Roman Law and Latin Literature, to which I have also contributed a chapter on sovereign power in Seneca's Apocolocyntosis. In addition, I have planned a larger, collaborative project on Seneca's concept of autonomy and political authority, and its influence on postclassical (especially Early Modern) traditions of political theory.

I welcome enquiries from any students wishing to pursue further study in the field of Latin literature.

Outreach

I am available to speak at schools on the following topics:

a) Theatre and Spectacle in Ancient Rome

b) Seneca: Philosopher, Tragedian, Statesman

c) Neronian Rome: literature, culture, history

d) Ancient Roman Comedy: Plautus and Terence

NB: These topics can also be adapted and made more specific as needed.

Research interests

  • Seneca
  • Lucan
  • Roman Tragedy
  • Roman Comedy
  • Neronian Rome
  • Stoic Philosophy
  • Performance Theory (Ancient and Modern)

Publications

Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

Supervision students