Patricia J. Johnson

Curriculum Vitae

My research and teaching interests have always resided at the intersection between texts, material culture and history. My BA and MA degrees were in history and classical archaeology (at Cornell), and my PhD in classics (at USC) focused on the poetry of the Augustan poet Ovid. I’ve written on various subjects in the course of my career, from Middle Cypriote pottery and Sophocles’ Antigone, to Ovid’s epic and exile poetry and explicit (or so I propose) ceiling paintings in the Cardinal’s apartments in the Villa Médici in Rome.

My courses follow a similar trajectory: third- and fourth-year undergraduate and graduate-level seminars on Latin poetry (Ovid, Horace, Vergil, Catullus), as well as broader courses in English on Roman civilization, women in the ancient world, and the age of Augustus.

My 2008 book, Ovid Before Exile: Art and Punishment in the Metamorphoses, explores Ovid’s artists in the Metamorphoses, and how their stories reflect his concerns about freedom of artistic expression in his own time. After a few years of service as the associate dean of humanities in CAS, I am now getting a project underway on the reception of the tapestry of Arachne in Metamorphoses 6 by early 16th century Italian artists. I am interested in figuring out how artists interpreted the Ovidian episode by looking at their own artistic products alongside historical documentation from their era, when questions of artistic freedom and the line between “decent” and “obscene” artistic representation were being raised just as in Ovid’s time.

Research Interests

Latin poetry, especially Catullus and Ovid; reception of Ovid, especially in Renaissance painting; women in Republican and Augustan Rome