Dr Bev Back

Dr Bev Back

Lecturer in Latin Literature and Language (Teaching & Scholarship);
Admissions Rep. for Classics

Summary: Post-Augustan Latin epic poetry; Virgil; classical receptions in modern science fiction and fantasy; the Argonautic myth; Roman personal poetry

Teaching Commitments: *Beginners' and Intermediate Latin (CLAS1910; CLAS1250) *Virgil's Aeneid (CLAS2600) * Traversing Time: The Voyage of Argo (CLAS3120) *Ovid the Innovator (CLAS3360) UG Dissertations/Final Year Project (CLAS3200) MRes Classics: (Mod. Leader:

Teaching and current research

I arrived at Leeds in September 2013. I am interested primarily in exploring post-Augustan Latin epic poetry and in classical receptions (particularly of Argonautic themes) in modern science fiction. I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Liverpool on transgression in Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica (2013), and it explored what it is to be transgressive in post-Augustan epic, as well as identifying and exploring issues in the poem which may be seen as taboo, such as rape, physical metamorphosis, identity, monsters, and primacy. I am developing individual chapters for publication.

My next major project will be an investigation of the role of the helmsman in Latin literature, particularly in poetry, and also modern receptions of the motif. This springs from the account in Valerius Flaccus of the loss of Tiphys and his subsequent replacement. I also undertake ongoing work on Classics pedagogy and Scholarship.

I teach modules on Latin literature and language, and on Roman culture. I am engaged in developing innovative teaching strategies and new ways of enhancing students' learning. I work closely with colleagues in the School to develop new pedagogic strategies in ancient language learning and teaching, and in developing new ways to engage with core texts such as the Aeneid. I supervise dissertations on Latin literature, Latin language, and modern receptions of classical motifs.

My research-led optional module entitled Traversing Time: The Voyage of Argo (CLAS3120) first ran in 2015/16. This course introduced students to various ancient versions of the Argonautic myth, before focusing on two Roman versions, Seneca's Medea and Valerius' Argonautica. In future I'd like to develop a course on enemies of the Romans as seen through literature and contribute to courses on Classics on screen.

As the Admissions Rep. for Classics, I oversee Classics' annual student recruitment drive and guide applicants through university Open Days. I am Personal Tutor to over 30 students -- a role which I love -- and I tutor Access to Leeds students over summer. I am also involved in outreach projects, such as Linguastars, and have delivered talks to students in schools around the Leeds area. I will also be involved in teaching on our new Classics MRes, launching September 2016.

Before Leeds

As University Teacher at the University of Liverpool (2011-13), I convened and taught several modules in all levels of Latin language and literature. I taught Statius' Thebaid and Lucan's Bellum Ciuile in translation, and taught language and linguistic modules centred around Virgil's output, Roman personal poetry and elegy, and Livy's ab Urbe condita. I designed and taught in translation a module on Homer's Iliad, and led tutorials on the Odyssey, ancient visual culture, the city of Rome, and introductions to Greek and Roman social and military history. I was a Teacher of Classics at Archbishop Blanch School in Liverpool (2012-13).

I tutored Liverpool's Continuing Education students in Classical Latin language from May 2007 until September 2012. There I tutored absolute beginners through to competent readers and was a major force in reinvigorating the Ancient Worlds LLC provision there.  I designed and led the intensive Latin for beginners programme at the Liverpool Ancient Worlds Summer School for 5 years, was a founding member of the Liverpool Schools Latin Project, and designed/delivered several one-day events and longer courses for their Classics Outreach programmes for schools from 2008-2012. I also ran my own business as a peripatetic tutor in Latin and Classical Studies, holding Latin reading groups in church halls and cafes in the city (2010-2013) and supporting GCSE, AS and A-Level students in Merseyside.


Review of: Pelling C. and Wyke M. (eds.), 2014. Twelve Voices from Greece and Rome. Ancient Ideas for Modern Times. Oxford [OUP]

Back, B., 2016 In: Classical Review, 66.2.


Review of: Keith, A., and Edmondson, J., 2016. Roman Literary Cultures. Domestic Politics, Revolutionary Poetics, Civic Spectacle. University of Toronto Press: Toronto. For Museion: The Journal of the Classical Association of Canada.


‘Feminist Pedagogy’, 8th Annual Postgraduate Interdisciplinary Conference on ‘Cruelty and Compassion', invited speaker (June 2017)

'Ovid and the mystery of his exile'; Grammar School at Leeds, Leeds, invited speaker (February 2017)

‘“Seven Hells” and “Using the Force”: on screen fantasy and teaching the Aeneid’, The Virgil Society, Senate House, Malet Street, London, invited speaker (December 2016)

'Bigmouth Strikes Again: Ovid the troublemaker'; Grammar School at Leeds, Leeds, invited speaker (February 2016)

‘Jon Snow, Roman Crow,’ Leeds City Museum, ‘Classics in our Lunchtime’ series (August 2015; later invited to give an updated version for University of Leeds’ Classics Society, November 2015)

‘Epic Poetry Strikes Back – George Lucas as Rhapsode’, Lytham St Anne’s Classical Association,  invited speaker (April 2015)

‘And Venus was her name? Medea ipsa in Valerius Flaccus’, University of Reading, invited speaker (June 2014)

‘Epic Poetry Strikes Back – George Lucas as Rhapsode’, Leeds City Museum, ‘Classics in our Lunchtime’ series (May 2014)

‘The Argo in space and time: science fiction receptions of the Argonautic myth’, at Swords, Sorcery, Sandals and Space 'The Fantastika and the Classical World', Liverpool, UK (28 June – 1 July 2013)

‘The Enduring Appeal of Jason and the Argonauts’, for the Liverpool [branch of the] Classical Association, Liverpool, UK (May 2011)

‘Mysterious Island? The island of Peuce in Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica, book 8’, at The Classical Association Annual Meeting, Durham, UK (April 2011)

‘The Argonautica as a Science Fiction text’, for the ‘Always Coming After’: Receptions of post-Augustan literature conference, Nottingham, UK (July 2010)