Rhys James Jenkins

Rhys James Jenkins

Department of English Literature
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: An Antiquity of Horror: H.P. Lovecraft's Classical Reception
SupervisorsDr Eleanor Dobson (lead) and Dr Rona Cran
PhD English Literature


  • PhD English Literature - University of Birmingham 2024
  • MA Classics & Ancient History – University of Exeter, 2017.
  • BA Ancient History – University of Exeter, 2016.
  • CertTESOL – Trinity College London, 2014.


After completing both my BA and MA at the University of Exeter, and having spent time teaching in Japan, I returned to the UK in order to undertake my PhD research at the University of Birmingham, beginning June 2019.

In my previous studies, I gravitated towards areas of Classical reception, as well as those concerning Pre-Socratic philosophy, funerary practices in antiquity, and interpreting epic narratives. I primarily focused on the Graeco-Roman world and the Alexandrian Empire, but I take a keen personal interest in Brythonic Celtic Studies, as well as the image of the western dragon in lore, literature, and art. More broadly, the reception of antiquity in modern culture appeals to my interdisciplinary approaches.

In conjunction with my MA, I received training in reception studies as part of the ‘Research Skills’ optimisation module series. Training in funerary osteoarchaeological techniques aided me in expanding my working knowledge of funerary practices, and I’m particularly interested in the contextualisation of grave goods. Archival training at the National Library of Wales assisted my academic development more broadly. I recently completed a course funded by the European Social Fund and hosted by Aberystwyth University, titled ‘Introduction to Media Production’.

Thanks to the generosity of the James Pantyfedwen Foundation for the last two years, I’m currently based at the Department of English Literature at the University of Birmingham, where I’m researching the role of antiquity in moulding the socio-political views of weird fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft. 

Part of this project involved working closely with the John Hay Library at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where I conducted my archival research over the summer of 2022. This involved the handling of delicate manuscripts and other physical evidence taken from the world's largest repository of H.P. Lovecraft's personal effects.

I’m a Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Midlands Network of Popular Culture, while maintaining strong links with the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology at both the University of Birmingham and the University of Exeter.

Linkedin profile


  • Teacher for English in the World (Level 6 UG Module), examining the usage and implications of the English language in various contexts, from the museums and country homes to climate protests and outreach projects – 01/02/2022.
  • International speaker for Between the Living and the Dead, a conference hosted by Progressive Connexions, presenting A Celtic Guide to Halloween - 30/10/2021.
  • Current mentor at the University of Birmingham PGR Mentor Scheme, tutoring MRes and PhD Students.
  • Organised the Midlands Network of Popular Culture Annual Forum 2021 and chaired the Members Research Panel – 19/08/2021.
  • Guest speaker for the Dark Economies conference at Falmouth University on the textual interactions between TS Eliot & HP Lovecraft – 21/06/2021.
  • International speaker at the Vienna conference for the 2nd Global Inclusive Interdisciplinary Conference on Monsters presenting HP Lovecraft’s Greek Period with Progressive Connexions and Emerald Publishing – 01/05/2021.
  • Hosted workshop on Classics and the Uses of Reception for the Midlands Network of Popular Culture – 10/09/2020.
  • Organised and chaired the MNPC Inaugural Forum’s Research Panel of Industry Practitioners on Digital Environments in 21st Century Visual Media with Crystal Dynamics, Side FX Canada, and Sledgehammer Games – 13/08/2020.
  • Visiting Lecturer for The Gothic (Level 6 UG Module) alongside Dr Jimmy Packham - talk on H.P. Lovecraft and Sigmund Freud as writers in the Gothic tradition - 14/01/2020.
  • HEFi Horizon Award in Higher Education Teaching – December 2019.
  • International speaker at Cine-Excess: The International Conference and Festival, on Sweating the White Stuff: White Monstrosity in Jordan Peele’s Get Out – 05/11/2020.
  • Returning speaker for the University of Birmingham’s Cultural Calendar Seminar Series on topics concerning Brythonic Celts and contemporary Welsh culture.


My doctoral thesis - 'An Antiquity of Horror: H.P. Lovecraft's Classical Reception' - considers the poetry and weird fiction of the eponymous early-twentieth-century writer and his infamously problematic worldviews, with a focus on the place of Graeco-Roman mythology, history, and philosophy within his works. Such mythopoetic Classical references are likewise incorporated into the work of some of his major literary influences, such as Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Machen, and early-modern English poets.

'An Antiquity of Horror' attests that the Classical reception of weird fiction pioneer Howard Phillips Lovecraft is integral to understanding his works, and sheds light on his lesser-known body of poetry. It puts forth that his Graeco-Roman Period of literature manifests itself in his poetry and prose as a vehicle for self-expression, and served as a tool through which Lovecraft related to the wider world. It also contends that the famous mythopoetic megastructure known as the Cthulhu Mythos is fundamentally shaped by his relationship with Classics, exhibited through its intertextual references and inversion of traditionally mythic themes.

Research interests

  • Classical Reception studies:
    • Relationship between Classical sources and Gothic horror during the long nineteenth century
    • Representations of Graeco-Roman death, the afterlife, and funerary practices
    • Reception of the western dragon in lore, literature, and art
    • Antiquity in modern culture
  • Lovecraftian studies:
    • Lovecraft’s reception of the Graeco-Roman world
    • Narratological perspectives in Lovecraftian horror
    • Lovecraft’s correspondence with contemporaries
    • Personal philosophy and ethics
    • Lovecraft’s poetry
    • Mythopoetic texts

Other activities

  • Invited to Brown University’s John Hay Library (Rhode Island) to undertake special collections archival research over the course of a month, supervised by Head of Special Collections, Heather Cole  – 28/06/2022 to 28/07/2022.
  • Recipient of the Turing Scheme 2022 Travel Grant amounting to £1000, upon evaluation and assessment of third-year doctoral research - 10/02/2022.
  • Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Midlands Network of Popular Culture (MNPC).
  • Interviewed by The New York TimesKatherine Cusumano for their Halloween spread on Celtic Britain and the origins of Samhain - 31/10/2021.
  • Conference Organiser and regular speaker at Progressive Connexions.
  • Sole Articles Editor for the 25th Anniversary Issue of the Rosetta Journal, as well as one of the Specialist Subject Editors.
  • Active member of both the Study States and Page Breaks departmental reading groups.
  • Work featured in the Images of Research 2019-20 catalogue.