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Barbara’s research sheds light on the problems shared by the ancient world and the modern day – from migration to women’s rights – and considers whether ancient solutions might be applicable to today’s society. 

Students at the University of Reading engage with Barbara’s research through modules such as Ancient Drama, focusing on themes of exile, migration and home, which are particularly topical because of today’s refugee crisis.

In a separate project, Barbara worked with two undergraduate students to research a series of women’s suffrage cartoons with classical topics, as part of the Department’s Academic Work Placement module.

Barbara believes it is important to try to learn from cultures that preceded ours. For example, the ancient Greeks and Romans experienced issues of diversity and multiculturalism. They were extremely mobile, as shown by a well-known tombstone found near Hadrian’s Wall; this was erected by a man from Syria, who settled and married in Roman Britain. 

Furthermore, despite the huge geographical area and diverseness of the Roman Empire, Rome extended citizenship to all its inhabitants. Study of the ancient cultures reveals that mobility of populations, and the struggle to work out ways to live with each other, is by no means just a modern-day preoccupation.

Barbara advocates making the discipline of classics accessible to everyone, so we can all learn from the valuable experience the classical world offers.

Alongside the University and its students, she supports a number of initiatives which promote the study of classics in primary and secondary schools, including Classics for All, The Iris Project and Advocating Classics Education.

"If we turn to classics to see how the ancient world handled the types of issues that still preoccupy us today, there is much that can be learned. Classics can open new windows on to our versions of ourselves."

Learn more about our outreach programmes for schools

Professor Eleanor Dickey: bringing the past to life

Eleanor has created the Reading Ancient Schoolroom, a project that enables today's schoolchildren to experience what it was like to learn in ancient society.

Professor Ian Rutherford: forgotten corners of the ancient world

Ian believes that it is important for scholars and students to enhance their understanding of the classical world through studying different ancient cultures together. 

Dr Emma Aston: research that feeds into teaching

Emma has taught on a variety of modules in the Department, drawing substantially on her research and on her academic interests more broadly.