Julia H. GaisserJULIA H. GAISSER

Eugenia Chase Guild Professor Emeritus in the Humanities, Professor Emeritus of Latin
PhD The University of Edinburgh

Email: jgaisser@brynmawr.edu

Research Interests

Republican and Augustan poetry, Renaissance humanism, Reception.

Recent Publications


    • Catullus. Blackwell Introductions to the Ancient World. Wiley-Blackwell. 2009.
    • The Fortunes of Apuleius and the Golden Ass: A Study in Transmission and Reception (Martin Classical Lectures). Princeton University Press, 2008.
    • Oxford Readings in Catullus. Oxford University Press. 2007.
    • Catullus in English. Penguin Books, 2001.
    • Pierio Valeriano on the Ill-fortune of Learned Men: A Renaissance Humanist and his World. University of Michigan Press, 1999.
    • Catullus and his Renaissance Readers. Oxford University Press, 1993. Reprinted 2001.

Selected Articles and Chapters:

    • “Some Thoughts on Philology.” Transactions of the American Philological Association 137 (2007) 477-81.
    • “Apuleius in Florence. From Boccaccio to Lorenzo de’Medici.” In Classica et Beneventana: Essays
      Presented to Virginia Brown on the Occasion of Her 65th Birthday. Turnholt, 2007. 43-70.
    • “The Reception of Classical Texts in the Renaissance.” In The Italian Renaissance in the Twentieth Century. (I Tatti Studies, 2002) 387-400.
    • “Teaching Classics in the Renaissance,” Transactions of the American Philological Association. 131 (2001) 1-21.
    • “Threads in the Labyrinth: Competing Views and Voices in Catullus 64,” American Journal of Philology 116 (1995) 579-616.

Personal Statement

My overriding interest is in the use and reuse of classical authors from antiquity to the present. I study allusion, intertextuality, imitation, interpretation, transmission, and appropriation – in a word, reception. Although my research is diverse in method and focus, it all comes down to studying the interplay of authors, texts, and historical circumstances over time. I am fascinated by the ways in which an ancient poet like Catullus or Vergil (or a Renaissance poet like Pontano or Iohannes Secundus) uses allusion to bring earlier texts into his work to create a new and complex play of meaning. Working with intertextuality on this level requires close reading of both the later poet and his models; since I was trained by new critics, it is one of my favorite activities. But it also requires thinking about the different cultural settings of the later poem and its intertexts – a much more modern consideration. I also like working on a broader scale, studying the transmission of ancient authors over time. In my first book, Catullus and his Renaissance Readers (1993), I studied several genres of Renaissance reception – text criticism, university lecturing, commentaries, and literary imitation and parody. More recently I have published an even more wide-ranging study, The Fortunes of Apuleius (2008), on the reception of Apuleius from antiquity to about 1500. This book involves textual transmission and manuscripts, pagans and Christians in Rome at the end of the fourth century, manuscript illuminations and Florentine wedding chests, Boccaccio’s Decameron, the origins of printing, and the Plato-Aristotle controversy of the fifteenth century. It is both literary and historical, for I am thoroughly convinced that in reception studies one must know (and care) as much about the receivers as about the received.

Since retiring from Bryn Mawr in 2006 to pursue my research full time, I have written on Catullus, Renaissance manuscripts and commentaries, and the social life of Renaissance humanists. My big project at the moment is translating the dialogues of Giovanni Pontano for the I Tatti Renaissance Library.

I have taught graduate courses on Republican and Augustan poetry: Vergil’s Aeneid, Roman Elegy, and the Alexandrian Tradition in Roman Poetry. My goal is always to have the seminar read as much Latin and as many secondary sources as we can; the emphasis is on discussion; and I always have an eye on close reading, intertextuality, and literary (and cultural) history.