Department of Classics
Faculty of Arts and Science
Photo Credit: Diana Tyszko
Professor Alison Keith received her BA (Hons.) in Classics from the University of Alberta in 1983 and her PhD in Classical Studies from the University of Michigan in 1988. Upon completion of her doctorate, she started a tenure-track position as Mellon Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics at the University of Toronto. She has held a budgetary cross-appointment in Women and Gender Studies (2001-07), where she is currently Affiliate Professor; status-only appointments in Comparative Literature and Medieval Studies; and fellowships at Victoria College (1989- ), New College (2001-07), and Massey College (2009- ). Since 2017, she has served as Director of the Jackman Humanities Institute.
Professor Keith conducts internationally recognized research across Ovid’s poetic corpus and its reception in imperial Rome and medieval, early modern, and modern Europe and the Americas. She co-founded and served as the inaugural President (2018-19) of the International Ovidian Society, with members drawn from across Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Professor Keith’s most significant book, Engendering Rome: Women in Latin Epic (Cambridge 2000), transformed the study of Latin epic poetry, the most prestigious genre of ancient Latin literature and one of the most significant repositories of evidence for ancient Roman attitudes to marginalized groups, by introducing feminist theory and gender criticism into the mainstream of scholarship on classical epic. Widely reviewed, it remains the standard work in the discipline.
In addition to her pioneering intersectional research on gender and genre in Latin literature and Roman culture, Professor Keith has published well received books on the Latin elegiac poet Propertius (Duckworth 2008) and the leading exponent of Latin epic, Vergil (Bloomsbury 2020). She has also published a widely used textbook on Latin epic (Bolchazy-Carducci 2012). She is currently completing a biography of the earliest female author of classical Latin poetry for Oxford University Press (forthcoming 2024).
In 2012, the Royal Society of Canada elected Professor Keith as a Fellow. She is currently the President-elect for 2024 of the North American Society for Classical Studies (SCS), the largest professional association in the world for the study of ancient Greece and Rome. She has held visiting appointments and research fellowships at Clare Hall, Cambridge (UK); Albert Ludwigs Universität Freiburg (Germany); the National Humanities Center (North Carolina); and Université de Lille (France). She has also won the inaugural SCS Women’s Classical Caucus Leadership Award (2017) and the Classical Association of Canada’s Award of Merit (2016).
Outside of the academy, Professor Keith has championed the findings of classical and feminist scholarship, and humanities research more broadly, in print and broadcast media both nationally and internationally. The recipient of a large grant from the Mellon Foundation in her role as Director of the Jackman Humanities Institute, she has forged an ongoing collaborative relationship with CBC Radio: Ideas, which has featured an annual JHI lecture since 2020. She makes frequent appearances on national radio and TV and is a champion for humanities scholarship in new media platforms and public history events.