Rhetoric, gender, and emotion in Rome

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

Rhetorical training was a standard part of education for elite Roman men, and oratory was an important vehicle for the performance of masculinity in Roman public life. Public speaking was also a crucial component of the operation of the Roman republican government; as John Dugan has noted, 'a powerful speech by one individual senator could change the government's whole policy.' While the relationship between rhetoric and the construction of Roman masculinity has been examined, the role of emotions in this process merits further attention. Did ideas about gender impact how orators performed emotions? Were certain emotions considered 'masculine' or 'feminine' and did this shape their roles in persuasion? What does the use of gendered stereotypes in oratory tell us about Roman society and culture more broadly? Was there a tension between the importance of emotional persuasion in public speaking and the need to perform traditional masculinity, and if so, how did orators and rhetoricians reconcile this tension? How are ancient debates about the role of emotions in persuasion and the public performance of gender reflected in modern discourses?

Emotion studies have proliferated in Classics over the last 30 years, with scholars illuminating the complex, culturally-specific ways emotions were conceptualised, expressed, and evaluated in ancient Greece and Rome through the study of extant sources. The study of ancient emotions can be approached from a diverse range of disciplinary perspectives; concepts and theories drawn from psychology, anthropology, and sociology can be applied alongside philological approaches to uncover new dimensions of ancient texts and the cultures which produced them. This project invites candidates to make an original contribution to research on the relationship between rhetoric, emotion, and gender in the ancient Roman world. Candidates interested in the social, cultural, political, and/or philosophical dimensions of Roman oratory and rhetoric are encouraged to submit proposals.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Jayne Knight


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applications are open to applications from Classics or Ancient History discipline backgrounds only
  • English language score must be above minimum entry requirements for this project
  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Advanced Latin reading ability
  • First class Honours degree in Classics or related discipline or equivalent

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Dr Jayne Knight to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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