Efrossini Spentzou
  • TW20 0EX

Personal profile

Personal profile

I am deeply committed to interdisciplinary studies and works at the intersection of Classics with modern critical thought. My first book on the feminine voice in Ovid’s Heroides, considers gendered ways of writing, establishing a dialogue between Ovid’s ancient narrative and French feminist thought, esp. écriture feminine. I am particularly interested in the ways gender and creativity operate against/alongside each other, and have published and edited work on the figure of the ancient Muse and creativity from a feminist perspective.

Reflections of Romanity. Discourses of Subjectivity (with Richard Alston), a conversation in threads on Roman Imperial Subjectivity spanning through disparate ancient genres and postmodern philosophical discussions about the self, offers a challenge to modernity’s perception of a clear, solid, and natural antiquity in exploring the gentle, gnawing malaise of the individual living in the High Principate, from Nero to Hadrian: a relatively stable and peaceful in military terms age that, however, lost its certainties and the reassurance of common goals, a rather post-modern condition. 

My on-going interests on gender relations, images of the artist and constructions of home and belonging all inform my book-length study on the politics of love in the Augustan period. That book explores issues of self-image and creativity, home and exile, and gendered power play against the backdrop of (Augustan) political pressure and political unrest.

I also have a sustained engagement with the politics of classics reception, in its European, and especially, Modern Greek literature and context. I have worked on Helen of Troy in modern European politics and aesthetics and in modern Greek feminist poetry; on the engagement of Yiorgos Seferis and Yiannis Ritsos with the classical past, and especially the role of nostos, the return, in their poetry, exploring constructions of home and associated, and competing, models of masculinity in modernist Greek literature; on 21st century anti-heroic readings of the foundational epics of Greek identity, exploring Isidoros Zourgos' Aidonopitta (A Nightingale's Pie) which exposes, I argue, the colonising myths surrounding modern Greece, and the East-West relationship, more generally. 

Psychogeography and the multiple ways space is contested and produced underpin a collaborative project and edited volume with William Fitzgerald on The Production of Space in Latin Literature. Sustained interest in cultural spaces informs my focus on borderspaces and encounters, the in-between spaces where subjects face up to the intimacy of the other with a re-reading of Eurydice, Byblis and Myrrha in Ovid’s Metamorphoses through the feminist art and cirtical thought of the Israeli-born artist and psychoanalyst Bracha Ettinger. In developing an ‘encounter’ between Ettinger and Ovid, I explore issues of representation, identity, and failure in Ovid and offer a new perspective of Ettinger’s matrixial, non-possessive, always evolving 'part-subject'. Porous borders and borderline identities continue to be the focus of my work on a series of contemporary (late 20th and 21st century) rewritings of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in poetry, theatre, film, musical, art, and the graphic novel.

Working in the Community: the Myth and Voice Initiative

My research has explored strife, marginal voices and the intricate power relations between ‘dominant’ and ‘weaker’ voices in classical narratives. Underpinned by my understanding of conflict in ancient fictions, the Myth and Voice Initiative fosters the emergence of negotiated retellings of ancient mythical narratives from modern perspectives to support self-development and well-being. Aimed at schools, youth environments, community groups and other interested voluntary settings, the project comprises of a series of experiential workshops based on particular Greek myths. These narratives provide safe spaces for experimentation and role play so that the participants can articulate their experiences, develop empathy and communication skills and share understandings. 

 Undergraduate and Postgraduate Teaching

My teaching ranges across Latin and Greek literature and myth and their reception, at both BA and MA level. I have supervised, and particularly welcome, PhD students interested in forging new ways of setting antiquity (esp. as reflected in Latin literature) in dialogue with modernity. I am also open to discuss potential practice-based Phd projects. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions