I am currently pursuing research towards my Doctorate within the Discipline of Ancient History and Classical Languages at the University of Newcastle. The title of my thesis is “The portrayal and implications of feminine ageing in Latin literature”- which may not be as esoteric or irrelevant as it sounds.
Cultural artefacts such as poetry, prose and drama cannot help but reflect, even if unintentionally, the attitudes and beliefs of the society that produced them. They manifest in the interplay of language and imagery used to tell stories and disseminate information. Roman society, generally seen as a major progenitor of Western culture, had very definite views on the roles and behaviour of women throughout every stage of life. Their (generally male) writers were anything but shy about expressing those views and would not have understood the concept of political correctness.
Latin literature abounds with portrayals of young, beautiful, nubile women in their prime – a bit like our own popular culture today. Once they pass their ‘use-by-date’ however, Roman women appear mainly as a series of malign stereotypes that are instantly recognisable even today. My research is exploring what Latin literature can tell us about attitudes to older women in Roman times and also how these views have influenced our own some 2,000 years later. A rapidly ageing population and women generally outliving men means that the majority of this growing cohort will be women. Any insights into the origins of our attitudes and values could prove valuable in dealing with the demands that this shift in demographics will bring.
In a former life I earned a BSc at James Cook University, but these days that just means I can speak enough ‘geek’ to get by and am in touch with my inner nerd. I also hold a BEd (primary) from Charles Sturt University and make the occasional guest appearance at local primary schools.