Dr Bev Back


Note: I do not work on Fridays.

I grew up in Washington, Tyne and Wear, and began my career working at a Big Four accountancy firm. I then applied to study as an adult learner at the University of Liverpool, being the first in my immediate family to go on to Higher Education. I undertook a BA Classical Studies (Class I), MA Classics (Distinction), and my doctoral studies at Liverpool. I wrote my doctoral thesis on transgression in Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica. 

I have been teaching Latin since 2007 and until 2013 ran my own successful Language and Classics tutoring business in Liverpool. I coordinated and delivered a suite of over 25 courses to adult learners as part of the University of Liverpool Continuing Education (Lifelong Learning) provision, and worked as a Graduate Teaching Fellow and then a University Lecturer in the School of Classics, Archaeology, and Egyptology throughout my doctoral studies. Until 2012, I was also heavily involved in the University of Liverpool Classics outreach programme, involving schools and colleges around Merseyside and the Wirral, and I took an active role in several events for the 2008 Capital of Culture celebrations. 

I arrived at Leeds in 2013, where I took up the position of Lecturer in Latin Language and Literature. From 2013–2018, I was the Classics Admissions Tutor at Leeds, a role from which I stepped down on commencing maternity leave in July 2018. I returned to work in September 2019 after having my baby. From January 2020 to January 2021, I held the roles of Classics UG Programme Manager and Classics MRes Programme Manager, making key decisions and coordinating our suite of programmes through the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research interests

I am interested primarily in Latin epic poetry, in particular that of the post-Augustan era, as well as in most other forms of Roman poetry to varying degrees. Another prevailing interest is in classical receptions of ancient themes, where work so far has concentrated on exploring Argonautic references found in 19th century science fiction of H. G. Wells, unpicking the classical elements in Game of Thrones and Star Wars, and working on the impact of the Young Hercules TV series. I am also cultivating interests in Roman poetry as ‘samples’, in the vein of Hip Hop 'sampling'.

I was recently invited to contribute to an edited volume on AI and Technology in Ancient Epic (Bloomsbury: forthcoming) and am currently working on two articles springing from the doctorate: H. G. Wells’ fin de siècle receptions of the Argo myth as a conduit for exploring anxieties around technological development; and on eyes, vision, and ocularity in Valerius Flaccus. An ongoing major project is tentatively entitled: ‘Dropping the Pilot: the expendable expertise of the literary helmsman’. 

In terms of pedagogy, I am currently working on a piece tentatively and (thus far partially) entitled ‘Screening the katabasis’, which explores the use of various modern receptions as ways to teach Aeneid 6. I am particularly interested in ideas around decolonising Classics, and welcome discussion on this issue.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA Classical Studies (2006: Class I)
  • MA Classics (2008: Distinction)
  • PhD Classics (2013)

Student education

As Lecturer in Latin Literature and Language, I teach Latin to all levels and Roman literature in translation (in particular epic, which is my specialism). Courses I teach often contain elements of reception work, and are student-focused and student-led. I have also taught Roman social history as part of our introduction to Roman history. My overall role is currently focused on Teaching and Scholarship.

I am happy to discuss supervising Uundergraduate and Postgraduate dissertation projects on Latin literature in general (though specifically Latin epic poetry), elements of Roman history (with careful discussion), civil war literature, ships in ancient literature, metapoetry, consolation, and Classical receptions. I would be happy to explore the possibility of forming part of the supervisory team for PhD supervision.

I am passionate about the student experience at the University of Leeds and this is reflected in personal successes. For example, to date I have been nominated for 5 Partnership Awards for excellence in Personal Tutoring and in the quality of the feedback I offer.

Research groups and institutes

  • Classics
  • Classics
  • Classics and Ancient History
  • Language pedagogy
  • PRIA
  • Literary studies