Photo of Dr Rebecca Langlands

Dr Rebecca Langlands

Senior Lecturer


Extension: 4393

Telephone: 01392 724393

My research falls primarily within the field of Latin literature and Roman culture, with particular interests in ethics and the Roman tradition of moral learning and teaching through exempla and heroic tales (especially the work of Valerius Maximus), and in gender and sexuality. I also work in the field of the reception of Classics from the Renaissance to the present day, particularly as it relates to the history of sexuality and the erotic.

I teach undergraduates in all these areas, including specialist final year modules in Sexuality and Gender in the Ancient World and Classical Reception (From Grand Tour to Gladiator: Modern Encounters with the Ancient World). I also teach the MA in Roman Myth and History, which explores Roman myth-making, heroism, story-telling and writing about the past, as well as the myth of Rome as constructed by later cultures.

My book Sexual Morality in Ancient Rome was published in 2006 by Cambridge University Press, and I have recently published two articles about exempla and morality in Valerius Maximus: “’Reading for the Moral’ in Valerius Maximus: the case of Severitas” and “Roman exempla and situation ethics: Valerius Maximus and Cicero de Officiis”. I am currently writing a book about Roman exempla more generally and their role within the Roman ethical system, entitled Exemplary Ethics in Ancient Rome.

I am also collaborating with Dr Kate Fisher (Department of History) on an interdisciplinary project Sexual Knowledge, Sexual History (within the Centre for Medical History) which explores the way that both popular and academic ideas about sex and sexuality have been articulated from the 18th century to the present day with reference to erotic material from ancient civilisations, including those of Greece and Rome. The Wellcome Trust funded this project as well as an attached post-doctoral fellowship. We have published two co-authored articles in this field focusing on the reception of materail from Pompeii and Herculaneum. The first is about on the sexually explicit frescoes from Pompeii and the way tourists have responded to them over the centuries. The second is about the way that museums have dealt with sexually explicit material from Pompeii and Herculaneum and what we call the "censorship myth" in modern scholarship and popular media. We are also co-editing an interdisciplinary volume Sex, Knowledge and Receptions of the Past including articles from scholars in a range of disciplines investigating the way that the past is used as an authority in the construction of knowledge about sex.

As part of this research project we are also running a project called Sex and History to bring the fruits of this research to the wider community. We are working with museums, schools, and other groups throughout the South West to develop ways of using museum artefacts to stimulate discussion about contemporary sexual issues among young people.

I am co-director of the University's Humanities Research Strategy Theme 'Bodies and Identities'.