Dr Bev Back


In academic session 2019/20 semester 1, I am working Mondays to Wednesdays only. 

After studying for my BA Classics (Class I), MA Classics (Distinction), and PhD Classics at Liverpool, I arrived at Leeds in 2013, and took up the position of Lecturer in Latin Language and Literature.  I have been teaching Latin since 2007, and until 2013 ran my own successful Language and Classics tutoring business, as well as coordinating and delivering a suite of over 25 courses to adult learners as part of the University of Liverpool Continuing Education programme. I also ran the University of Liverpool Classics outreach programme, involving local schools and colleges, until 2012. 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 and undergoing subsequent treatment for a serious illness.

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 modern science fiction, 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 wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Liverpool (2013) on transgression in Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica and chapters from the thesis, such as on the examination of monsters in Valerius' version and the Argonautica as a science fiction text (via the work of HG Wells), are now in preparation for publication. The next major study involves an investigation of the importance of the helmsman in Latin literature, which springs from the account in Valerius Flaccus of the loss of Tiphys and the description of finding his subsequent replacement.

<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>

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). I would be delighted to teach in the original, and in future would like to run courses on ancient civil war narratives.  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. I am heavily involved in our Classics MRes, leading the principal, team-taught module on the MRes Classics degree, Principles & Practices of Research prior to maternity leave.  My role is currently focused on Teaching and Scholarship.

I am happy to discuss supervising UG and PG 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 form part of the supervisory team for PhD supervision.

I am passionate about the student experience 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