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Frances Foster


Senior Teaching Associate

Associate Senior Member and Director of Studies in Education (Hughes Hall)

E-mail Address


  • PhD King's College, London
  • MA University of East Anglia
  • PGCE University of Cambridge
  • BA (Hons) Universities of Warwick and Cologne

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations

  • The Past for the Present (Cluster Board member)
  • Classical Association
  • Grammaticalia (European researchers working on Latin grammarians and language teaching in antiquity)
  • Digital Classicist
  • Examiner for Latin for a Public Awarding Body

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Frances teaches on the PGCE Latin with Classics, she lectures on the Education Tripos and CACL Masters programme, and supervises both Masters and undergraduate students. She has previously taught in a range of institutions, including modules on Latin and Roman mythology at King's College London.

Frances completed her PhD in 2013 at King's College, London, focusing on the late antique teacher and commentator Servius and his reception. She is interested in how people have read and continue to read and respond to the ancient world and its literature, especially Virgil, whose place on the school curriculum since his own lifetime is almost continuous.

Research Group

Children's Literature Research Centre

Second Language Education (secondary affiliation)

Academic Area/Links

  • Education in the Ancient World
  • Children's Literature and the Ancient World
  • Reception of the Ancient World
  • Late Antiquity
  • Classics Education

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Research Topics

  • Education in Late Antiquity: Servius
  • Receptions of the classical world in fantasy and children's literature
  • Young people's interactions with antiquity
  • Late antique receptions of Virgil

Current Research Projects

  • From Classical Mythology to Contemporary Education in Britain and Germany. Cambridge-LMU Strategic Partnership Award.
  • Young people's knowledge of mythology. An investigation of teenagers' familiarity with ancient mythology outside formal education (funded project)
  • Reading Servius in Context and Reception. This is a study of the reception of the late antique teacher and commentator on Virgil: Maurus Servius Honoratus (PhD thesis: being revised for publication).
  • Late antique responses to Virgil.
  • Lands of the dead. Receptions of ancient conceptions of the land of the dead in fantasy and children's literature.

Prospective PhD Applications

If you’d like to work on education in or about the ancient world at PhD level, including literary study of the reception of the ancient world in children’s literature (or anything else ancient education based that sounds fun), then please send me an email and I'll be happy to discuss your ideas with you.

Workshops and seminars

Co-organiser of Mythology and Education, February, 2020, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. See this page for further details.

Co-organiser of Mythology and Education: History and Practice, October, 2017, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. See this page for further details.

In 2013-2016, I secured funding from the ICS (Institute of Classical Studies, University of London) to set up the ICS Early Career Seminar for Classical Studies, a regular seminar for all early career researchers in any areas of Classical Studies.  Please see for further details.

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Course Involvement

  • Taught Postgraduate
    • MEd Researching Practice
    • MPhil Children's Literature
    • PGCE Latin with Classics
  • Undergraduate
    • Education Tripos: Poetics, Aesthetics and Criticism; Drama Production and its Contexts; Emergence of Educational Systems; Children's Literature
    • Latin and Greek supervisor
    • Dissertation supervisor; R&I supervisor

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Selected Publications


Foster, F. (2019). Teaching ‘correct’ Latin in late antique Rome. Language & History, (Special Issue: Bi/Multilingualism and the History of Language Learning and Teaching), 62·2, 57-73. DOI: 10.1080/17597536.2019.1641936. Online here.

Foster, F. (2017). Teaching Language through Virgil in Late Antiquity. The Classical Quarterly, 67·1, 270-283. DOI: 10.1017/S0009838817000295. Online here.

Foster, F. (2016). Teaching Virgil’s Greek in Late Antiquity. Beitra╠łge zur Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft, 26·1, 69-81.

Foster, F. (2015). Visiting the Ancient Land of the Dead in Le Guin and Riordan. Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction, 44·122, 33-43.

Foster, F. (2018). Attitudes to Ancient Greek in Three Schools: A Case Study. The Language Learning Journal, 46·2, 159-172. DOI: 10.1080/09571736.2014.1002415. Online here.

Foster, F. (2014). Lands of the Dead: Homer's Hades and Le Guin's Dry Land. Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction, (Special Issue: Fantastika in the Greek and Roman Worlds), 43·118, 32–44.  

Foster, F. (2014). Reconstructing Virgil in the Classroom in Late Antiquity. History of Education, 43·3, 285–303. DOI:10.1080/0046760X.2014.887791. Online here.  

Foster, F. (2013). Virgilising Rome in Late Antiquity: Claudian and Servius. New Voices in Classical Reception Studies, 8, 65-78. 

Chapters in Books

Foster, F. (2020). Homer and LeGuin: Ancient and Modern Desires for Heroic Memory. In M. Scherer and R. Falconer (eds). A Quest for Remembrance: The Underworld in Classical and Modern Literature. Routledge, 174-195.

Foster, F. (2019). Drinking Blood and Talking Ghosts in Diana Wynne Jones's The Time of the Ghost. In B.M. Rogers and B.E. Stevens (eds), Once and Future Antiquities in Science Fiction and Fantasy. London: Bloomsbury, 123-134. 

Foster, F. (2019). Servius on Virgil’s underworld in Late Antiquity.  In J. Harrisson (ed), Imagining the Afterlife in the Ancient World.  Routledge, 173-189. 

Da Vela, B. and Foster, F. (2016). Servius, Donatus and Language Teaching.  In A. Garcea, M.-K. Lhommé and D. Vallat (eds), Fragments d’Érudition: Servius et le Savoir Antique.  Hildesheim: Olms, 143-153. 

Other publications

Foster, F. (2014). Classics, or What's in a Name?  Bulletin of the Council of University Classics Departments, 43.

Foster, F. (2013). The ICS Early Career Seminar.  Bulletin of the Council of University Classics Departments, 42.

Foster, F. and Hunt, S. (2011). Teacher perceptions of the new Latin examinations of 2010. Journal of Classics Teaching, 22, 23-24.

Foster, F. (2008). A digital presentation of the text of Servius. Online at

Selected Recent and Forthcoming Conferences

July 2021. Gods and Magic in Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief. Classics and the Supernatural in Contemporary Media, Brading Roman Villa.

TBC 2020. The Dark Side of the Underworld: Hades Speaks! Histor Mythos, LMU Munich.

TBC 2020-21. Gods and Landscape in Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief. Our Mythical Nature, Warsaw.

March 2020. Virgil in the Late Antique Classroom. The Virgil Society, ICS, London.

September 2019. 'alii dicunt…' Servius and Virgil's anonymised readers. 'sicut commentatores loquuntur' – Authorship and Commentaries on Poetry, Leipzig.

June 2019. Learning Latin Grammar with Servius. Ars et Commentarius, Paris.

May 2019. Another Late Antiquity: John Christopher's Fireball. Our Mythical History, Warsaw.

July 2018. Rick Riordan's Demigods: Twenty-first century heroes? Celtic Conference in Classics, St Andrews.

July 2018. Teaching 'correct Latin' in late antique Rome. Bi-/Multilingualism and the History of Language Learning and Teaching, Reading.

July 2017. Demigod, god or monster? Rick Riordan's Hercules.  Celebrating Hercules in the Modern World, Leeds.

May 2017. Two narratives of Katabasis and the quest for being remembered.  'A Quest for Remembrance': The Descent into the Classical Underworld, Warwick.

March 2017. Rethinking Identity:Rutilius Namatianus’ De reditu suo. Voices in Late Latin Poetry, LMH, Oxford.

June 2016. The Dark Side of the Underworld: Hades Speaks! Imagining the Afterlife in the Ancient World, Birmingham and Newman.

May 2016. Servius and Antiquarianism in the Classroom. Finding the Present in the Distant Past: The Cultural Meaning of Antiquarianism in Late Antiquity, Gent, Belgium.

April 2016. Claudian, Servius and the Literary Presentation of the Succession of Power in Late Antiquity. Classical Association Conference, Edinburgh.

February 2016. Another Late Antiquity. Historical Fictions Research Network, ARU, Cambridge.

May 2015. The Persona of Servius. Characterisation in Memory Construction, ICS, London.

March 2015. Drinking Blood and Talking Ghosts. The Once and Future Antiquity: Classical Traditions in Science Fiction and Fantasy, Tacoma, Washington.

September 2014. The Role of the Fantastic Ancient World in the work of Diana Wynne Jones. A Fantastic Legacy: Diana Wynne Jones, Newcastle.

August 2014. Praising Augustus through his Ancestors: Servius on Representations of Augustus in Virgil. Commemorating Augustus: a Bimillennial Re-evaluation, Leeds.

August 2014. Lands of the Dead in Speculative Fiction. Diversity in Speculative Fiction in Loncon3: The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, London.

June 2014. Teaching Language through Virgil in Late Antiquity. Language and Learning: The history of Linguistics in the Context of Education (Internationales Kolloquium des Studienkreises 'Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft'), Leiden.

April 2014. (with Beatrice DaVela) Servius, Donatus, and Language-teaching. Fragments d’érudition: Servius et le savoir antique, Lyon.

April 2014. Teaching Virgil in Late Antiquity. Classical Association Conference, Nottingham.

June 2013. Lands of the Dead: Hades and the Dry Land in Earthsea. Swords, Sorcery, Sandals and Space: The Fantastika and the Classical World, Liverpool.

October, 2011. Reading Servius in Context. Poster: Arts and Humanities Festival, King's College, London. (Prize awarded).

March 2008. Performed the part of Lucres in a Thynke Byggly production of Medwall's Fulgens and Lucres. Mediaeval English Theatre, Bristol.