Zoe Fox

Zoe Fox

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
Doctoral Researcher

Contact details

PhD title: "Free the trunk of the great oak from all that still spoils it": Demolition, Displacement, and Monumentality in Augustan and Fascist Rome
SupervisorsProfessor Diana Spencer, Dr Lloyd Jenkins, and Dr Kate Nichols
Classics and Ancient History PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)


  • BA Classical Languages, Bryn Mawr College, 2014
  • MA, Classics, University of California Los Angeles, 2016


I began my career in Classics as an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr College, where I divided my time between my Classical Languages degree during the school year, and various archaeological excavations and research fellowships in Rome during the summer. This time in Rome, and especially my experience studying in the city for a semester, led me to my twin interests for the comparative urban development of Rome and the reception of Augustus during the Fascist period. I pursued the latter topic, along with the relationship between literature and monumental architecture, for my undergraduate thesis (entitled “Romanitas/Romanità: The Parallel Representations of Roman History in Augustan and Fascist Cultural Works”). After taking some time to focus on the Augustan period alone for my Master’s degree at UCLA, I have returned to Classical reception and comparative history for my PhD dissertation.

I currently live in Los Angeles, California. In addition to my PhD research, I teach full-time at an elementary and middle school, where I am designing and piloting the school’s Latin program and Ancient History curriculum. I am passionate about introducing the ancient world to a new generation of students through progressive education and interdisciplinary learning.


My project is a comparative historical analysis of the Augustan and Fascist demolition and construction projects in the city of Rome. Both Augustus and Benito Mussolini installed several monumental zones in the center of the city, all of which required massive clearance of the so-called “colore locale” and the displacement of thousands of Romans from their homes. As a result, the architectural manifestation of romanitas in Augustan Rome, and romanità in Fascist Rome, took precedence over Romans themselves. I am investigating this phenomenon as it occurred at several major urban sites in both time periods, including the Subura and the Palatine in Augustan Rome and Quartiere Alessandrino and Piazza Montanara in Fascist Rome.

In both time periods, I am interested in the moral and practical justifications given for demolition, the processes of land acquisition and population displacement, and the popular reception of the ensuing construction projects. Major thematic issues I am focusing on include the “myth of Rome” as an impetus for construction, the balance between widespread razing of structures and the lighter touch of renovation, and the effect that the resulting building or space can have on the cultural memory of demolished areas. I am also considering broader social issues inherent in the building programs of authoritarian leaders such as the disdain of those in power for local urban populations, and the privileging of public monuments over private domestic spaces.

Other activities

Conference Papers:

  • "Exhaustion, Despondency, Pain and Humiliation": The Recurrence of Demolition and Eviction in la Zona dei Fori Imperiali from the Augustan Principate to the Fascist Period. Institute of Classical Studies Postgraduate Work-in-Progress Seminar series; London, England, May 13, 2022.
  • Sampietrini and the Roman Experience: from Literature to Social Media. Northeast Modern Language Association Annual Convention; Baltimore, Maryland, March 10-13, 2022.
  • “Priva di aria e luce”: Prejudice, Perception, and Public Health in Roman Demolition Projects. University of Birmingham Department of Art History, Curating, and Visual Studies Research Lunch; Birmingham, England, November 24, 2021.
  • The Augustan Forum vs. the Subura: Demolition and Construction as Morality. California Classical Association-South Spring Meeting; online conference, April 24, 2021.
  • Augustan Construction on the Palatine and the Strategies of Roman Urban Demolition. University of Birmingham Classics, Ancient History, and Archaeology Postgraduate Research Seminar Series; online conference, April 22, 2021.
  • Luxuria or Munificentia? Augustus’ Calculated Demolition on the Palatine. Up and Down: Demolition and (re)Construction in the Roman City; online conference, September 13, 2020.
  • “Questo è nella tradizione di Roma”: Fascism, Antiquity, and Commemorations of the 1936 Ethiopian Victory. La Guerra e l’Italia: Italian Identities through War; UCLA, January 23-24, 2015.
  • Signis Receptis: Roman and Augustan Relations with Parthia. Hanna Holborn Gray Undergraduate Research Conference; Bryn Mawr College, September 28, 2012.

Committee Memberships

  • Member, Classical Association of the Middle West and South: Graduate Student Issues Committee

Academia.edu profile