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Rachel Bryant Davies

Lecturer in Comparative Literature, Queen Mary University of London

My research centres on adaptations of classical myths and texts for new contexts. I am particularly interested in the intersections between texts and other forms of culture – whether material, performance, visual – with attention to non-elite modes and everyday encounters (e.g. through toys, puzzles, popular theatre).

My recent publications have focused primarily on classical reception during the long nineteenth century (c.1750-1914), and how classical myths and literature have been used in the formation and circulation of classical knowledge, including debates about the purpose and relevance of philology and excavation.

My current research explores adaptation of classical antiquity as a tool for ideological and didactic purposes, through analysing the use of classical content in children’s literature and culture, and in periodicals. I am writing a monograph that investigates how the classical past informed the models of idealised behaviour presented to children: it assesses diachronic changes in how the cultural privilege of Classics was explained to children in different formats and how specific ideologies were camouflaged by their classical coatings. In addition, this research led me to curate a case for an exhibition at Cambridge University Library in 2018, ‘Tall Tales: Secrets of the Tower’.

Prior to my arrival at QMUL in September 2019, I held an Addison Wheeler Research Fellowship in Classics and Ancient History at Durham, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Durham Centre for Nineteenth–Century Studies. I held a Library Research Fellowship at Princeton University with the Seeger Centre for Hellenic Studies and the Cotsen Children’s Library in 2019. I am an Early Career Associate of the Oxford Archive of Performance of Greek and Roman Drama and previously trained as a Classicist. I studied Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, where I researched my doctorate as part of the Leverhulme-funded Cambridge Victorian Studies Group.

From 3 August 2020 til 3rd February 2022, I am Principal Investigator on a British Academy COVID-19 project, 'Childhood heroes: storytelling survival strategies and role models of resilience to Covid-19 in the UK' (BA COV19\201444), with Co-Investigators Dr Lucie Glasheen and Professor Kiera Vaclavik. This project includes a collaboration with children's magazine Storytime which draws on my historical research into children's interactions with classical myth in magazines and experience as a school teacher following my PhD.


  • –present
    Lecturer in Comparative Literature, Queen Mary University of London


  • 2011 
    University of Cambridge , PhD in Classics