Wendy Jane Little

Wendy Jane Little

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

Qualifications

  • MPhil by Research (University College London)
  • Diploma Superius in Lingua Latina (University College Cork)
  • MA by Research in Classics (University of Warwick)
  • BA (Hons) in English Literature (2:1) (University of Warwick)

Biography

From previous study, I have spent fifteen years working on English and Latin epic. During my MPhil research at University College London, I studied Virgil’s divine scenes in some depth in order to ascertain how the Virgilian intertext was used across the epic tradition. This study encompassed epics from the Silver Latin and Renaissance tradition and included Virgil’s Aeneid, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica, Silius Italicus’ Punica, Maphaeus Vegius’ Thirteenth Book of the Aeneid, and, finally, Sannazaro’s De Partu Virginis. Prior to this, I undertook a year-long study of Iacopo Sannazaro’s De Partu Virginis (1526) whilst studying for a Diploma Superius in Lingua Latina at University College Cork. I also produced a translation of Maphaeus Vegius’ The Thirteenth Book of the Aeneid (1428) whilst undertaking my MA by Research in Classics at the University of Warwick. Prior to this, I gained a BA (Hons) in English Literature (2:1) at the University of Warwick.

Teaching

  • I spent two years teaching Latin to Complete Beginners at the Language Centre at the University of Warwick.

Doctoral research

Research

Satan, Lucifer, Beezlebub, Mephistopheles, Apollyon – the Devil has proved a powerful embodiment of evil. My research addresses a key moment in the fortunes of the Devil, namely his depiction in Neo-Latin and English epic in early modern Britain. The focus of my project will be a body of literature known as the “Gunpowder Epics”, works written in response to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, where a recurrent theme is the diabolical inspiration of plots against the monarch, and the assimilation of the Devil to Guido Fawkes himself. Key works will include Milton’s In Quintum Novembris, (with Haan 1992), whose monk-devil will later feed into the Satan of Paradise Lost, and Campion’s De Coniuratione Pulverea (ca 1610). The Gunpowder Epics themselves draw on earlier Latin epics: George Peele’s Pareus (1585), on William Parry’s plot against Elizabeth I; William Alabaster’s Elisaeis (ca 1590); and Thomas Campion’s Ad Thamesin (1585), on the defeat of the Armada of 1588 (Sutton 2013).

Research Questions This project aims to illustrate how the character of Satan was imagined. Central to my enquiry are two questions. First, how do Neo-Latin and English language poets bring together classical and biblical influences in their characterisation of the Devil? Second, how far does this characterisation interact with wider depictions of the Devil and the daemonic in British culture of the time? The first of these is addressed through a study of classical and biblical models. Virgil provides the canonical Latin depiction of the Underworld and under-worldly figures; Ovid and Lucan also depict the baneful working of chthonic powers in the human world. Prudentius is also central as a model for the Christianisation of Latin epic (Nanda 1995). Dante’s and Tasso’s Italian tradition is likewise influential. The second question requires us to look at both contemporary treatises on diabology such as Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584) and James VI’s Daemonologie (1597), and literature like Ben Jonson’s Catiline (1611), also nascent popular culture like broadside balladry. I will also examine representations of Satan in the artwork of the period.

Other activities

  • Society for Neo-Latin Studies (SNLS)

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