My research in Classics is led by an interest in poetics, how societies operate and how the two are related. As a teenager, I now realise, my interests were very similar, though I could not articulate them this clearly. I was endlessly fascinated by novels, television programmes and computer games which were set in fantasy universes and examined alternative sets of social rules. I listened to loud, difficult music for as many minutes of the day as I was able, and would learn all I could about the subcultures it had grown out of. At school, Latin was the subject where we would be most encouraged to discuss society in a theoretical way, to consider – for example – how the cursus honorum worked and how this related to the literature we were reading. This introduced me to Classics and its pleasures. I found the Iliad as dry as anyone else when I first read it, but ancient literature’s steady obsession with its own literary heritage refused to let me ignore it. Like many albums that initially seem impenetrable, the Homeric epics and their legacy only ever reward hard attention, to the point that I now cannot imagine working with any other literature.
Dr Fran Middleton. Lecturer in Greek Literature; Fellow and Director of Studies at Murray Edwards College