Staff profiles

Photo of Dr Katharine  Earnshaw

Dr Katharine Earnshaw

Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History


01392 723322

My research centres around Latin hexameter poetry (in particular the authors Lucan, Lucretius and Virgil), especially where it initiates a discourse with 'scientific', geographical, and philosophical discourse. My work approaches the poetry from a number of different angles, the current main strands of which could be categorised as follows:

Space and landscape: I am currently completing a book on Lucan's Landscape, which considers landscape, space, place and spacetime in the Pharsalia. I am interested more generally in literary approaches which draw on ideas of spatiality, ecocriticism, geocriticism, and the anthropocene.

Cognitive Humanities: especially texts and multimodality, spatiality and temporality, memory, perception and mental visualization. On this latter I co-organised (together with Felix Budelmann) a conference in January 2016, entitled 'Cognitive Visions: poetic image-making and the mind' ( I also co-manage the Cognitive Classics website ( I am very interested in the two-way direction of neuroscientific research and the humanities.

Classical Reception: especially in British and American literature and art of the Long Eighteenth Century, and of the last quarter of the 18th and into the Romantic period in particular. I work or have worked on the reception of Lucan, Lucretius and Virgil in authors such as Percy Bysshe Shelley and J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur, and artists such as Henry Fuseli.

I am also interested in the literature of the Neronian period more generally (especially Seneca's Natural Questions).

In general, I enjoy the close philological detail of traditional classical approaches (my PhD thesis was a commentary on a section of book IV of Lucan's Pharsalia), and I also enjoy opportunities that allow me to work and collaborate with those in other disciplines (e.g. Geography, History of Art, English, and the Cognitive Sciences).

External impact and engagement

I feel very strongly about fair access to higher education, and my career thus far has been characterized by a firm commitment to outreach and widening participation activities. Whilst at St. John's College, I initiated the 'St. John's College Classics Essay Competition', and I have been involved in giving a large number of school talks since being a postgraduate, both to students (of all ages) and to teachers. In April 2016, I was the judge for the Lytham Classical Association's inaugural schools competition.

My research on classical reception in art has led to my working collaboratively with various art galleries, and I am always keen to establish further such links.

In 2015 I was approached to be a talking head on the National Geographic documentary 'Map of Hell', directed by Julian Jones, and (rather glamorously) filmed on location in Naples.


Originally from Blackpool, I did my BA, MA and PhD all at the University of Manchester. I then worked briefly as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Leeds (2008-9), and the University of Liverpool (2009-10). At Liverpool, a significant part of my job was also focussed on outreach and widening participation. More recently I was a Fellow at St. John's College, Oxford (2010-16), where I was the organising tutor for Classics and Joint Schools. I arrived at the University of Exeter towards the beginning of 2016.