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Dr Eleanor Betts

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Profile summary

  • Baron Thyssen Lecturer in Classical Studies
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Art His, Class St, Eng&CW, Mus
  • Classical Studies
  • eleanor.betts

Professional biography

I graduated from Reading University with a degree in Classical Studies with Major Latin, immediately followed by an MA in the City of Rome. This was succeeded by a DPhil (PhD) at Oxford University, on the subject of the sacred landscape of Iron Age Central Adriatic Italy (Marche). During my DPhil I began teaching for the Open University, as an Associate Lecturer, and also for the Department of Classics and School of Continuing Education at Reading University. For several years I worked in the School of Continuing Education (Reading University), where I was responsible first for Archaeology and Ancient History, then for all the short course and Certificate of HE programmes. I continued to work as an Associate Lecturer and began teaching on the Oxford University Continuing Education weekly class and Summer School programmes. I joined the Department of Classical Studies at the Open University as a lecturer in September 2012.

Research interests

My research explores Roman urbanism and religion in Roman and Iron Age Italy (primarily Picenum - modern Marche and North Abruzzo), with an emphasis on the interrelationships between the human body, material culture and architecture. I am concerned with questions of individual and group identities, and the concepts and use of space. This is all underpinned by sensory studies; specifically, the development and application of multisensory approaches to understanding people's construction, experience and use of urban and ritual space, and phenomenological approaches to ancient Italic sacred landscapes. I am a founding member of the Sensory Studies in Antiquity network and on the series advisory board for Studies in Roman Space and Urbanism.

I am also a network member of The Votives Project and a member of the UCL/NUIG Tavoliere-Gargano Prehistory Project.

Selected Publications

Betts, E. (ed.) (2017) Senses of the Empire: Multisensory Approaches to Roman Culture, Abingdon, Routledge. 

Betts, E. (2016) 'Places of transition and deposition: phenomena of water in the sacred landscape of Iron Age Central Adriatic Italy'. Accordia Research Papers, 14 pp. 63–83.

Betts, E. (2013) ‘Cubrar matrer: goddess of the Picenes?’, in R.D. Whitehouse and J. B. Wilkins (eds.) Accordia Research Papers 12, London: Accordia Research Institute, University of London.

Betts, E. (2011) ‘Towards a multisensory experience of movement in the City of Rome’, in R. Laurence and D. Newsome (eds.) Rome, Ostia and Pompeii: Movement and Space. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.118-32.

Betts, E. (2003) ‘The sacred landscape of Picenum (900-100 BC): towards a phenomenology of cult places’ in J. B. Wilkins and E. Herring (eds.) Inhabiting Symbols: symbol and image in the ancient Mediterranean. London: Accordia Research Institute, University of London, pp.101-20.

See also Open Research Online for further details of Eleanor Betts' research publications.

Teaching interests

My main teaching responsibilities are the new beginners Latin module, A276 Classical Latin: the language of ancient Rome, A340 The Roman Empire and the MA in Classical Studies. Other current and recent teaching contributions at the OU include participation in the presentation of AA100 The Arts past and present, A151 Making sense of things: an introduction to material culture, A251 Word Archaeology, A297 Reading Classical Latin, A219 Exploring the Classical World and A330 Myth in the Greek and Roman worlds.

Impact and engagement

Classics Confidential podcast on Senses

Lead Educator for the Health and Wellbeing in the Ancient World MOOC (June-July 2017)

The origins of ancient medicine: - ‘What the ancients did for us’ - BBC/OU

To find out more about the Picenes, you can watch this video interview filmed for Classics Confidential

External collaborations

I am a member of the Spatial and GeoHumanities Research Collaborations (SPARC) network, set up to foster research and teaching collaborations within CHASE, as part of the consortium's Digital Humanities training programme.

Recently co-organised: Capturing the Senses: Digital Methods for Sensory Archaeologies

Sensory Studies in Antiquity

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