Liz Young

Liz Young
Curriculum Vitae

(781) 283-2628
Classical Studies
B.A., Columbia University; Ph.D., University of California (Berkeley)

Elizabeth Marie Young
Knafel Assistant Professor of Humanities; Assistant Professor of Classical Studies

Poet and scholar of Latin poetry and comparative literature.

Interests include poetry and poetics of Rome and the contemporary U.S., the theory and practice of translation, cultural studies, phenomenology and the histories and receptions of poetic genres and forms.

My research has focused largely on the work of canonical Latin poets (Catullus, Vergil, Ovid) though I tend to approach such authors through less orthodox critical lenses informed by my training in comparative literature. My publications have included papers on canon creation in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, on miniaturization and sublimity in Vergil’s Aeneid, and on the history of slavery that underpins one of Catullus’ most seemingly lighthearted lyrics (c.4) .  At present, I am completing a book that examines the ways translation infuses Catullus’ decidedly original corpus and asks what we can learn about cultural exchange in late Republican Rome by studying these aggressively marginal lyrics.

My most recent critical work revolves around the Carmina Priapea, a littleknown collection of salacious Latin epigrams dedicated to the fertility god Priapus.  I am especially interested in the phenomenology of these poems – how they interact with the reader’s senses – and I’m currently writing a series of pieces that attend to their visceral manipulations of sound, rhythm and meter. I presented a paper titled "Gardens Full of Dirt and Verse: The Question of Value in Latin Erotic Epigram" at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association.

At Wellesley I teach classes in Latin language and literature as well as comparative literature. I am besotted with Latin’s combination of hypnotic intricacy and lucid architecture and take great pleasure in fanning my student’s passion for the language at every level.  I also adore teaching poetry in any language and form and strive to teach in a way that invites students to become life-long poetry aficionados.  When possible, I draw on my background in poetic practice and comparative literature to infuse my classical studies courses with hands-on, reception-based elements that foreground some of the ways in which Greek and Roman antiquity still inflect our lives today.

I am a poet as well as a scholar and my poems have appeared in a number of literary journals including, most recently, the online audio publication Textsound. My first collection of poetry, Aim Straight at the Fountain and Press Vaporize, won the 2009 Motherwell Prize from Fence books.  The manuscript of my second book (not yet in print) was a finalist for the National Poetry Series.