Jessica R. Wells

 Jessica Wells

Contact Information

4068 FLB
M/C 174
Urbana, IL 61801
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Jessie Wells received an MA in Classics at the University of Illinois in 2014 and an MA in Comparative Literature from the University of New Mexico in 2012. She is currently a PhD candidate in Classical Philology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her non-traditional research interests include visual art of the ancient and modern worlds and Classical reception in a variety of media, including film and television.

My dissertation focuses on the gendered and sexualized relationship between the text and the reader in Latin epigram. With particular emphasis on Martial, I explore the poet's use of diction in anthropomorphizing his poetic corpus and its complex relationship to its reader and possible poetic rivals. Currently, I am working on a chapter that follows the themes of castration/emasculation, self-mutilation, and authorial self-censorship as it applies the body of the poetic work (i.e. the book). 

Papers Delivered:

“Isolation of the Tragic Hero in Hereditary (2018).” Film & History Conference: “Citizenship and Sociopathy in Film, Television, and New Media.” Madison, WI. 7-11 November 2018.

“Castrating Priapus: Metaliterary Emasculation in Martial’s Epigrams. ” (De)constructing Masculinity: Manifestations of Maleness, Male Sexuality and the Male Body in Greco-Roman Antiquity, King’s College London. 1-2 November 2018.

"Scripta Mentula: Sexualized Language and Macro-Epigrammatic Structure in Book 3 of Martial’s Epigrams." Classical Association of the Middle West and South. Albuquerque, New Mexico. 11-14 April 2018.

“Social Proxemics and the Persian Court in Herodotus’ Histories.” Classical Association of the Middle West and South. Williamsburg, Virginia. 16-19 March 2016.

“‘No More Room in Hell’: Resonances of the Classical Katabasis in Zombie Films.” Film & History Conference: “Journeys, Detours, Breakdowns.” MadisonConcourse, Madison, WI. November 5-8, 2015. 

“Reanimating the Dead in Roman Literature and Modern Cinema.” Illinois Workshop on Imperial Latin Epic. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 9-10 October 2015.

“The Soul of Wit: Martial’s Art of Brevity in the Digital Age.” Classical Association of the Middle West and South. University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado. 25-28 March 2015.

“Adornment in the Epithalamia of Late Antiquity.” Ancient Adornment: The Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) Graduate Student Conference on the Ancient World. Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey. 23 October 2014.

“The Wise Maiden: Narrative Time and the Epithets of Persephone in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter.” Classical Association of the Middle West and South. Baylor University, Waco, Texas. 2-5 April 2014.  

“Hesiod’s Nautical-Themed Pashmina Afghan: The Nautalia as a Discursive Challenge to Homer’s Epics.” Classical Association of the Middle West and South. University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. 17-20 April 2013.  

“Rebel Tributes & Tyrannical Regimes: Myth and Spectacle in The Hunger Games (2012).” The 2012 Film & History Conference: “Film and Myth.” Hyatt Regency Downtown, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 26-30 September 2012.  

“Icarian Impact: Reception and Representation of a Pivotal Moment in the Myth of Icarus.” Classical Association of the Middle West and South. Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 6-9 April 2011.  

“From Dust to Dawn: The Discovery of the Laocoön and the Emergence of the Italian High Renaissance.” Classical Association of the Middle West and South. University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 24-27 March 2010.


“Rebel Tributes and Tyrannical Regimes: Myth and Spectacle in The Hunger Games (2012)” In, Heroism and Gender in War Films, Karen A. Ritzenhoff and Jakub Kazecki, eds. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Research Interests

  • Latin Epigram, Latin Lyric and Elegiac Poetry, Greek Lyric Poetry, Latin Palaeography, Greek and Roman Art, Narrative Theory, Proxemics, Classical Receptions.

Distinctions / Awards

  • Kress Fellowship. Awarded: Spring 2018.
  • Departmental Fellowship. Awarded: Spring 2018
  • List of teachers ranked as excellent. Awarded: Fall 2014, Summer 2015
  • Departmental travel award. Awarded: Summer 2013
  • Illinois Graduate College Distinguished Fellowship. Awarded: 2012.