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Dr Tom Geue

Lecturer in Latin
Impact officer & CAS rep

Phone: 01334 462614

Room: S13

Research profile

Research Interests

  • Imperial literature from c. 40 BCE to c. 200 CE, mainly Latin, Greek on a good day
  • Roman satire
  • Anonymous texts, literary and less literary
  • Marxist criticism
  • Classical reception, esp. in high modernism, and contemporary women’s writing
  • History of classical scholarship, esp. 20th century (who am I kidding…just Sebastiano Timpanaro really)
  • Historicism, formalism, and the various conflicts within each
  • Intertextuality and its limits
  • Autobiography and self-fashioning
  • History of literary criticism in 20th century, esp. the fortunes of ‘close reading’
  • Working with uncertainty

Current Research

The two prongs of my current divided self grow from the problems and possibilities of historicism, in all its many stripes. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I deal with the question of texts which lack secure authorship and context, and so have repeatedly resisted the historicist methods rolled out in mainstream classical scholarship. Rather than fix these anonymous texts in time, place, or person, I am trying to come up with new ways to read their anonymity as crucial to their ‘being’, and fundamental to their strange effects of heightened universality; to take their anonymity as an opportunity, not an obstacle, if you will. I tested this out in a monomaniacal close reading of the satires of ‘Juvenal’, which became my first book Juvenal and the Poetics of Anonymity (Cambridge, 2017). I’m extending the approach to other texts, and also upping the ferocity of the claim, in my current book project Author Unknown: Anonymity in Ancient Rome (Harvard UP, under contract, shooting for 2019 publication). This book ranges across anonymities, from the suppression of names within texts such as Ovid’s Ibis, to poems seeking to carve out space in multiple temporalities (e.g. Calpurnius Siculus, the Laus Pisonis), to texts whose anonymity gives them an authority booster to their political power (e.g. Octavia, Apocolocyntosis). The bigger purpose is to practise a kind of literary scholarship that is alive to both historical and reception contexts, them and us, simultaneously.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I try to help Latin literary studies get to a place where the ‘political’ is understood as something beyond intra-elite powerplay, and get things moving more in the tradition of Marxish criticism or ‘cultural materialism’. I have a close reading of Virgil Georgics 4 on the way (JRS 2018), which reads the book (and poem) as a means of naturalising the logics of slavery and imperialism that marked its making: i.e., forcing others to do the hard work for you, and pretending that’s what they want. While committed to a progressive historicist scholarship, I’m also aware of the dangers of sidelining the aesthetic – and am trying to think of new ways to make these things compatible (see ‘Classics, The Left, and The Sublime’, with Edith Hall and Henry Stead).

I invent days that don’t exist to work on collaborative projects with brilliant colleagues, which stand at various oblique angles to my research. I’m working on an edited collection with Elena Giusti (Warwick), which will deploy a crack team of scholars, emerging and established, to track the themes and devices of ‘absence’ in Latin literature and its reception (Unspoken Rome). I’m also working with Claire Jackson and Fran Middleton (both at Cambridge) on another edited collection that will help us rethink the literary dynamics of the Roman Empire beyond the standard holy trinity of author, reader, and text.

At night, I dream of the future: an intellectual biography of the wonderful classical philologist, literary critic, Marxist, copyeditor, Freudian psychoanalysis-sceptic, and intellectual historian, Sebastiano Timpanaro. I want to examine the relationship between his phenomenally broad interests, especially that between his textual criticism, anti-Freudianism, and political commitments. In an age of over-specialisation and neoliberal hegemony, and in the context of classicists’ own intra-disciplinary quest for higher meaning, Timpanaro’s story needs telling.


For further information on publications, please view my profile on the university's research portal.


In St Andrews, I’ve so far had a light load due to my research fellowship: first year courses on Petronius, Cicero Pro Archia, and part of an honours module on Suetonius. I’m looking forward to getting back to full teaching from September 2018, esp. my new honours brainchild Floating Words: Anonymous Texts in Ancient Rome.

Most of my papers have started life as ideas tried out and unwisely not left in the classroom; I hope my students always see the two-way traffic between teaching and research, and how important they are (if often unfairly invisible) on the road from chat to print. I welcome conversations with students of all levels, at all times, so please get in touch if you want to bat some ideas around! But I’ll need to try some out on you too.


I’ve been lucky enough to learn and teach at some wonderful classical hotspots, and have been tattooed with the thoughts of many. I picked up a lot from Emily Matters at North Sydney Boys High School, and went further with Frances Muecke and Emma Gee for my undergraduate degree at the University of Sydney (2004-7). I waved off the sun to do an MPhil and PhD at King’s College, Cambridge, on the watch of John Henderson and Chris Whitton (2008-13). I then went west to be a stipendiary lecturer at Trinity College, Oxford (2013-14), and almost kissed the Severn Bore with a stint as a teaching fellow in Latin at the University of Bristol (2014-15). I’m overjoyed to stop traversing the island with a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at St Andrews (2015-18, with patches in Harvard and Sydney), followed by a lectureship in Latin (2018-into the sunset). 

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