I was born and raised in Wakefield in West Yorkshire, and went to school at Batley Grammar School where I developed interests in ancient history and Latin. I was awarded a place to study Classics at King's College, Cambridge, where I completed my B.A., M.Phil and PhD between 1995 and 2004. I wrote my doctoral thesis on 'Concepts of Colour in Ancient Rome' under the supervision of Mary Beard, to whom I owe a great deal for my interests and inspiration in Roman history and culture. During my PhD, I was appointed to a two-year Faculty Lectureship in Ancient History in the Faculty of Classics at Cambridge, and shortly after I completed the PhD in Spring 2004 I was appointed to my position as Lecturer in Roman History at Nottingham. I was promoted to Associate Professor of Ancient History in 2011, and to Professor of Classics in 2020, the extended remit of my changing titles representing my commitment, like that of my former supervisor, to classics as a multidisciplinary subject that continues to have a powerful, enduring and wide-ranging impact on the modern world.
My main research interests are in the cultural history, literature and art of Imperial Rome, and my work has been particularly concerned with exploring perception, aesthetics and sensibilities in classical antiquity. My first book Colour and Meaning in Ancient Rome, which was adapted from my PhD thesis, was published with Cambridge University Press in 2009. I am also the author of several articles in the field of Roman visual culture (particularly the role of colour and form on marble sculpture), and am editor (along with Shane Butler, Johns Hopkins) of a series of six volumes on 'The Senses in Antiquity' for Routledge. The first of these, on the theme of 'Synaesthesia', was published in 2013, and I edited the second installment on Smell and the Ancient Senses (2015). I am also writing a short monograph on the theme of 'Roman noses', partly exploring Roman approaches to smell, and partly examining the relationship between nose size/ shape and character/ behaviour in ancient thought. Connected to my research on the senses, I recently co-organised (with Adeline Grand-Clément at the University of Toulouse) a conference on 'Incense and divinity', which was held partly at the British School at Rome and partly at the École française de Rome in June 2017. This is currently being prepared as an edited volume.
I also have interests in the reception of the ancient world in modern European culture, and I am editor of Classics and Imperialism in the British Empire (2010, Oxford University Press), an interdisciplinary volume examining the interactive relationship between classical ideas and British imperialism from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century.
A third strand of my research focuses on bodies, dirt and cleanliness in Roman society, religion and culture. As an early contribution to this area of research, I was editor of a volume titled Rome, Pollution and Propriety: Dirt, Disease and Hygiene in the Eternal City from Antiquity to Modernity (2012, Cambridge University Press), which is based on a conference held at the British School at Rome in June 2007. I am particularly interested in how Romans of the early Empire formulated and mobilized disgust as a response to bodies that were perceived to be 'out of place' in civilized society. My first foray into this field, a study of obesity in Roman art, was published in Papers of the British School at Rome in 2011. Beyond this, I have broad interests in the role of the body in formulating classical ideas about dirt, purity and danger: see for example this blog on 'Diagnosing deviance: aversion, obscenity and the senses in classical antiquity' for 'Disgust Week', run by the Centre for the History of Emotions at QMUL. I have also collaborated on a project on 'Effaced from History: Facial Difference and its Impact from Antiquity to the Present Day', which received a Wellcome Trust Seed Award in 2015/16, in order to develop an ambitious cross-disciplinary project involving synergies between leading scholars from six UK universities and working alongside the charity Changing Faces. In this role, I am series co-editor for a new Bloomsbury series of volumes on 'Faciliaities: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Human Face'. As part of my research on pollution and bodies, I am co-editor (with Victoria Leonard and Laurence Totelin) of a volume on Bodily Fluids in Antiquity, which is in production and will be published by Routledge in April 2021, and is based on a conference held in Cardiff in 2016.
Throughout my career, I have been warmly supported by the British School at Rome, where I have carried out a great deal of my research and to which I owe a great debt. From 2011-2017 I was a member of the BSR's Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters, and Editor of the Papers of the British School at Rome. I have also been a member of the Classical Association Journals Board, which oversees Classical Quarterly, Classical Review and Greece & Rome. In addition, I have been external examiner for the Department of Classics at Reading (2014-16) and was external reviewer (Classics and Ancient History) for the University of Warwick's curriculum review exercise in January 2017. From Autumn 2018, I am external examiner for the MPhil in Classics at Trinity College, Dublin.
My teaching at Undergraduate and Masters level engages principally with ancient history and visual culture, particularly that of late Republican and early Imperial Rome. I have convened modules on Roman religion and early Rome, as well as the role of classics in modern popular culture. I also teach a module on 'Colour and culture in the Mediterranean world', which is based on the work of my first book and explores the role and significance of colour perception in Greco-Roman culture. I have also convened and taught key first-year and second-year modules on the Roman world, classics and popular culture, and the Extended Source Study, as well as a module on Studying Classical Scholarship. I am also trained in advanced Latin and Greek language and literature and have taught both at all levels. More recently, I have been convener of both the undergraduate and masters dissertation modules, and I also co-founded (together with David Laven, Department of History) a new Faculty of Arts cross-disciplinary module titled 'Mastering the Arts: interdisciplinary approaches to research'.
I also have skills in the interpretation of visual culture (alongside literary and linguistic material) and have published articles on the interpretation of coloured marbles in early imperial Rome and the significance of paint on ancient marble sculpture, as well as my book on the role and significance of colour in ancient Rome. I have been referee for the 'Copenhagen Polychromy Network Project', an initiative based at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek at Copenhagen to further the study and reconstruction of paint traces on classical sculpture. From 2011-2014, I was also Director of Nottingham University's Urban Culture Network, and in 2014 co-organised a major cross-displinary conference on 'Urban Mapping: Approaches to Cartography in the Arts and Sciences'. I was also founder of a collaborative project between the Departments of Classics and Archaeology at Nottingham and the School of Ancient History and Archaeology at Leicester on the theme of 'Mediterranean Identities: Culture, History and Archaeology' (MICHA).
I am able to supervise research students in most areas of Republican or early imperial Roman social, cultural and political history, on Roman religion, as well as aspects of ancient perception, and certain themes within the reception of classical antiquity in modern European culture. I am currently supervising three research students on the following topics: Greco-Roman artistic influences and industry in nineteenth-century Birmingham; experiential approaches to Archaic and Classical Delphi; and porticoes and ambulatory spaces in Republican and Imperial Rome. I have previously supervised ten research students who successfully completed their PhDs on 'Pollution in Roman religion' (awarded 2011), 'Roman female suicide' (awarded 2011), 'Approaches to healing in Roman Egypt' (awarded 2011), 'Clothing and society in late antiquity' (awarded 2013), the Roman Republican censorship (awarded 2018), 'Living trophies: trees, triumphs and the subjugation of nature in early Imperial Rome' (awarded 2019), 'Identity, religion and empire: the civic coins of Roman Phoenicia' (awarded 2019), 'Odour, perfume and the female body in ancient Rome' (awarded 2019), the reception of ancient Rome in colonial and early national America (awarded 2020), and a comparative study of colour in ancient Greek and Hebrew (awarded 2021). Of these students, eight were fully funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, three have published their thesis as a monograph, and three are now in full-time academic roles.
Media and Outreach
I have made a number of appearances on television and radio. I appeared as academic consultant for the making of the 1960s Doctor Who: The Romans, released on DVD in 2009. I was also Lead Consultant for a BBC4 series on religion in the city of Rome from paganism to Christianity (Rome: a History of the Eternal City), presented by Simon Sebag Montefiore and aired in December 2012; the episode in which I was interviewed can be viewed here. I was also a consultant and talking head for a BBC1 documentary titled 'Rome's Invisible City', presented by Alexander Armstrong and Michael Scott, which was aired in June 2015. I have also appeared on Radio 4's 'Front Row' and ABC's 'The Body Sphere', talking about colour in the ancient world. Recently, I was interviewed by Jim Hawkins on Radio Shropshire talking about ancient smells (at 1.21:30 for about 10 minutes). In summer 2019, I was interviewed for a documentary, aired on the History Channel as 'Unterbliches Pompeji' in Germany, and in the UK via PBS America on 'Eternal Pompeii'. I have also been filmed for a forthcoming series on 'Great Inventions' on the history of wine and breadmaking.
I am also extensively involved in Outreach and Knowledge Transfer activities. I have been responsible for designing online Activities in Classical Studies for the national Young, Gifted and Talented programme. I was also Treasurer for the Nottingham Branch of the Classical Association from 2008 to 2012.
More recently I have been working as academic consultant on the history of the senses for Linder Sterling on her new exhibition 'Her Grace Land' at Chatsworth House and 'The House of Fame' at Nottingham Contemporary, both of which launched in March 2018.
I have wide-ranging experience teaching in most areas of Classics, but I specialize in teaching the history, society and culture of the Roman world, with particular emphasis on the city of Rome. At… read more
Foul bodies in ancient Rome
This project sets out to understand how Romans of the early Empire formulated and mobilized disgust as a response to bodies that were perceived to be 'out of place' in civilized society. The study of emotions in the classical world has received some comprehensive scholarly attention in recent years, and classical scholars have in recent decades begun to recognise the pervasive significance of pollution in Greco-Roman religion, society and culture, but these two areas of scholarly research have normally been kept distinct. Twenty-first century scholarship in anthropology and sociology has positioned 'disgust' as a critical factor in the value judgments of human society and its organization of customs, laws and hierarchies. Furthermore, recent work - both in academic and popular circles - has scrutinized the relationship between dirt ('matter-out-of-place'), disgust (reactions to that dirt) and civilization, and has questioned how far disgust is a universally shared emotion driven by common human values, and how far it is influenced, shaped and regulated by culture. Since Mary Douglas, scholars in a range of disciplines have steered the study of pollution specifically on to the human body: it is there, in the blood, flesh and bodily excretions, that communities calibrate the language and imagery of dirt, whether it be criminal behaviour, a city in ruins, political corruption or perceived racial threats. This research project, then, unites all these various threads - emotions, pollution, religion, law and medicine - and examines a rich body of evidence from the literature, rhetoric and art of early imperial Rome to explore the classification and evaluation of foul bodies in contemporary society and culture: the monstrous bodies of Roman myth and fiction; consumptive bodies; deformed bodies; bodies used in obscene ways; criminals; and bodies that are aged, diseased or dead. It examines ancient medical discussions of the ideal and non-ideal body, approaches to hygiene and sanitation, and the use of the senses - eyes, noses, ears - to identify and evaluate foul bodies, as well as bodies that are foul by association (origin/ race, occupation, environment and community, behaviour). It also considers the integration of these various discourses within contemporary religious and political life. Finally, it examines the legacy of pagan bodies in the early Church from late antiquity through to Renaissance Italy, and in doing so considers the contribution made by ancient Rome and cultural memories of the pagan past to concepts of the deviant body in later western thought.
I have already published a substantial article on one aspect of this project: 'Obesity, corpulence and emaciation in Roman art', in Papers of the British School at Rome 79 (2011): 1-41, and I am currently writing a short monogrsaph on 'Roman noses', which examines representations of noses and approaches to smelling in ancient thought, literature and art. I am also co-editor of a volume for Routledge on Bodily Fluids in Antiquity, which will be published by Routledge in April 2021.
I have also been one of six Principal Investigators on a project on 'Effaced from History? Facial Disfigurement and its Impact from Antiquity to the Present Day', which received Wellcome Trust seed funding in 2015/16. This project examined how facial disfigurement has shocked and fascinated observers, and shaped the lives of those living with disfigurements, across the history of Europe from antiquity onwards. 'Disfigurement' refers to the effect that any trauma or medical condition, or its treatment, has on facial appearance, making it look unusual, scarred, or impairing its functionality. It includes birthmarks, clefts and cranio-facial syndromes, scarring from accidents, burns, violence, warfare and disease; eye or skin conditions; and facial paralysis. The project interrogated representations of, and emotional responses to, disfigurement, asking how it disables, and what socio-cultural practices have perpetuated that process. It approaches these research questions through three core themes:
- Language: what linguistic categories have been used to describe facial disfigurement in the past and present?
- Visibility: how (in)visible were/are people with disfigurements? When does curiosity become intrusive staring? Does the proliferation of accessible images normalise or marginalise different faces?
- Materiality: what material evidence survives documenting the lives of those with facial disfigurement, and what items (masks, headgear, cosmetics and prosthetics) have been used in changing appearance.
The literature and material culture of Greco-Roman antiquity provide extensive evidence of deliberate, accidental and congenital disfigurement, ancient prejudices towards it, as well as remedial strategies and coping mechanisms, but the study of the face and facial anomalies is relatively new territory in classical scholarship, and can contribute a great deal to understanding the cultural and emotional history of one of most under-recognised disabilities in the twenty first century. As part of this project, I am series co-editor for a new series of Bloomsbury volumes on 'Facialities: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Human Face'.
BRADLEY, M., ed., 2022. 匂いと古代の感覚: (translated from the English volume Smell and the Ancient Senses, Routledge 2015) Fragrance Journal Ltd, Japan. (In Press.)
2022. Smell, history, and heritage: A Conversation with William Tullett, Inger Leemans, Hsuan Hsu,
Stephanie Weismann, Cecilia Bembibre, Melanie A. Kiechle, Duane Jethro,
Anna Chen, Xuelei Huang, Jorge Otero-Pailos, and Mark Bradley The American Historical Review. 127(1), 261-309
BRADLEY, M., 2021. The triumph of the senses: sensory awareness and the divine in Roman public celebrations’. In: ALVAR, A., ALVAR EZQUERRA, J. and WOOLF, G., eds., Sensorium: Sensory Perceptions in Roman Religion Brill. (In Press.)
MARK BRADLEY, 2021. Scratch-and-sniff: recovering and rediscovering Roman aromas. In: ADELINE GRAND-CLEMENT and CHARLOTTE RIBEYROL, eds., The Smells and Senses of Antiquity in the Modern Imagination 1st. Bloomsbury. (In Press.)
Across the past decade, my contribution to the University has increasingly focused on leadership of education and student experience, at Departmental, School, Faculty and University level, as well as the sector (particularly my work as a TEF assessor for the Office for Students).
From 1st August 2020, I am the University Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Curriculum Leadership, serving as the Deputy to Sarah Speight, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience. I chair the University's Teaching and Learning Committee, and have overall academic responsibility for professional development in teaching, curriculum design, and the University's KPIs for the Teaching Excellence Framework and the Access and Participation Plan. I also have delegated responsibility for taught postgraduate students across the University, and am academic lead on most matters related to assessment and feedback across the University.
During 2020-21, my main focus is contributing to the development of the University's new Education and Student Experience Strategic Delivery Plan and its accompanying action plan, as well as providing academic leadership for the design and implementation of a University-wide approach to engagement and attendance monitoring, and contributing to a full review of Campus Solutions, Student Services and Timetabling operations and processes.
Prior to this, I was from 2015-2020 Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and the Student Experience for the Faculty of Arts. in this role I chaired the Arts Faculty Education and Student Experience Board, sat on the University's Teaching and Learning Board, and oversaw all aspects of teaching and learning for the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies, the School of English and the School of Humanities. I led on the creation of a new cross-Faculty programme in Liberal Arts, which was approved in August 2017, chaired a Faculty group that has reviewed approaches to assessment and feedback, and led an initiative to enhance joint-honours student experience. In this role, I served as University lead on Teaching and Learning Committee for PGT programmes, a role that I have continued, and I was academic lead on a group overseeing implementation of recommendations around communications, culture, relationships and collaborative working, as part of the University's Organisational Change Review.
In the past, I have acted as Postgraduate Recruitment Officer and Undergraduate Admissions Officer for the Department of Classics. I was Director of Postgraduate Studies for the School of Humanities (both PGT and PGR) from 2012-2015, and Head of Taught Postgraduate Courses for the Faculty of Arts from 2013-2015.
From 2017-2018, I worked for the Office for Students as a Pilot Subject Panel Member for the Teaching Excellence Framework, and was the Interdisciplinary Lead for the Humanities Panel in 2018.
Monograph: Senses and Sense-Perception in the Greco-Roman World (Key Themes in Ancient History), Cambridge University Press (under contract)
The ancient senses represent a burgeoning field of study for classicists, archaeologists and ancient historians, who are beginning to recognise the pivotal role of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste in channelling and mediating the experiences of Greeks and Romans, and consequently their perception and understanding of the world in which they lived. It has long been recognised that the ancients perceived colours in very different, but not necessarily less sophisticated, ways from viewers in the modern west, and scholars in recent decades have begun to extend this enquiry to investigate culturally nuanced approaches to sound (extraordinary sensitivities to architectural acoustics, for example, or to us discordant musical aesthetics), smell (an apparent disregard for urban stenches), touch (an almost other-worldly penchant for tactile encounters with ancient artefacts) and taste (an enduring 'you-are-what-you-eat' literary topos).
Sensory approaches are beginning to be integrated into traditional fields of classical study: smell and touch are becoming standard tools to underpin archaeological enquiry and reconstruction; taste is now an indispensable factor in studies of food; sound is a key component of research on ancient music and performance; and theories of sight, which have long been central to philosophical epistemology, are an integral part of scholarship on ancient art. In short, the senses individually and collectively pervade all areas of ancient life and classical thought and in their own right have become a key theme of Greek and Roman history. But what did ancient poets, philosophers, artists and orators understand to be the role of eyes, ears, noses, fingers and tongues? How reliable was the information that the sense-organs gathered about the world they encountered? In what ways were the senses deployed in order to promote social cohesion, political propaganda or aesthetic appreciation? To what extent was the notion of five separate senses acknowledged and propagated in Greco-Roman antiquity, and when and why did 'synaesthesia' (shared, multisensory awareness) underpin ancient community experience? Finally, what was the significance of sensory deprivation in the ancient world, and how did Greeks and Romans understand and cope with blindness, deafness, numbness and other sensory impediments?
Recent scholarship has seen a proliferation of detailed studies of individual senses, literary and philosophical exploitation of sensory perception, and sensory engagements with specific historical contexts, forms of classical art, religious ritual and urban landscape. This proposed study will synthesise and critically assess some of the key themes to emerge from this research, explore both the individual and collective significance of the senses in antiquity, and develop a sustained argument about the contribution that the senses can make to ancient history, as well as setting ancient sensory studies against the broader context of the history of the senses. The book will be structured - necessarily, but also provocatively - along five chapters devoted to the individual senses, followed by a closing chapter on multisensory phenomena in the ancient world, and alternative approaches to the senses. Each chapter will be structured thematically and will integrate material and evidence from across the Greek, Hellenistic and Roman worlds, as well as from a variety of different media and literary genres, demonstrating that classical ideas about the senses were richly intertwined and interdependent, resisting both periodic and geographical boundaries. This book, then, will demonstrate in a concise and accessible form that bodily tools that are seemingly defined by human biology are in fact fundamentally shaped and appropriated by the cultures in which they are employed.
Monograph: Roman Noses: Smell and Smelling in Ancient Rome
Smell is a vapid, transient and elusive phenomenon. Because it is so difficult to document, describe and understand, and because - as thinkers from Aristotle to Alain Corbin have recognized - the sense of smell belongs more to the world of animals than civilised man, smell was not the subject of detailed research until the 1980s, and there remains no comprehensive study of olfaction in classical antiquity. This project will build on five years of research into the role of olfaction in Roman elite literature from the late Republic through to the advent of Christianity to complete the first comprehensive book-length study of smell in ancient Rome, and disseminate its findings to the public domain via schools, museum displays and the media. When and how did the Roman elite turn to smell to communicate information and values? What traces does it leave in the evidence available to us? And how did it relate to taste, touch, hearing and sight in the Roman sensorium?