Dr. Julianna K. Will

A woman wearing a beige hat is smiling from behind an open book.

Dr. Julianna K. Will's (she/her) research interests include Classical reception (especially in Victorian literature), Aestheticism, Decadence, sexualities and pornography, Dionysus and 21st century “Queer Horror”, Greek sex and gender, ancient Greek and Latin poetry, Athenian drama, and historiography.

Research Statement

I am a multidisciplinary researcher in the fields of Classics and Victorian Studies. As a classicist, I have a particular interest in Greek sex and gender, Greek poetry, specifically fifth-century Athenian drama, and the figures of Dionysus and Medea. As a Victorianist, my research explores the intersections of Victorian classical presences, sexualities, Aestheticism, and Decadence through the reception, translation, and appropriation of classical texts. I am fascinated in the ways by which Victorian authors use classical myth and literature as a vehicle—or veil—to discuss themselves. My interest in reception theory applies also to how classical and Victorian literatures are repurposed in twentieth- and twenty-first-century media, especially drama, film, and video games. I am especially interested in Dionysian inflections in 21st century “Queer Horror,” the subject of a forthcoming article.

My forthcoming book, The Horror and the Glory: Euripides Among the Victorians, is the first monograph-length exploration of the literary and cultural impact of Euripides in the long nineteenth century, correcting a long-held misconception that the playwright was subjected to a nineteenth-century damnatio. Currently, I am working on two large-scale research projects: Classics and Canadian Theatre, a collaborative, multimedia project I am undertaking with Dr. Jacqueline Petropolis of York University, and my second book, George Eliot, Jason, and Medea. The former project proposes to amplify the works of Canadian and Indigenous playwrights by bringing Canadian Classical reception into global discourses. In the latter project, I examine the Victorian novelist George Eliot’s complex engagement with the mythological figure of Medea (and her feckless spouse) across her literary oeuvre—a consistent but ever-evolving motif, through which Eliot finds a vehicle to critique nineteenth-century contemporary politics, religion, gender dynamics, and marriage. 

Teaching: My pedagogical practices reflect my research methodologies in that I emphasize interdisciplinary and intertextual approaches to Classics and literature. I encourage students to connect the literature of the past to the ways we understand the present. One of my main goals in every class is to develop students’ confidence in their ability to read texts critically, which I foster by encouraging them to connect personally to course material through creative projects and performance. I am a big believer in not taking Classics too seriously, in enjoying its absurdities as well as its beauties (it’s okay to laugh!). In beginner level courses I emphasize critical concepts and vocabulary that provide students with a “way in” to thinking and writing critically about literature, which we practice applying to course texts through in-class discussion and activation activities. The readings and topics in my courses invite students to question and re-evaluate the traditional ways we view classical and Victorian literatures, through the inclusion of authors, texts, topics, and points-of-view not always considered canonical.

Recent and Forthcoming Publications:

“Pater and Gender: Demeter, Dionysus, and Doomed Greek Boys.” Cambridge Companion to Walter Pater, edited by Kate Hext, Cambridge University Press, 2025.

The Horror and the Glory: Euripides Among the Victorians. In submission to Oxford University Press’s Classical Presences series.

“Mesmerism and Maenads: Pater, Stoker, and the Maenad ‘Swarm.’” Special edition Female Collectives in Antiquity, edited by Alison Keith, for Phoenix, TBA.

 “‘Writing Like a Poet’: Epic Simile in Aurora Leigh.” Manuscript submitted  for peer-review.

“‘Quelled or Quenched in Leaves’: The Poplar Experiments of Pater, Monet, and Hopkins.” The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, vol. 29, Fall 2020, pp. 27–45. (co-authored with Lesley Higgins)

“Justice for Patches.” Outside In Takes a Stab, edited by Robert Smith? ATB Publishing, 2018, pp. 89–91.

Collaborative Research Projects

The Collected Works of Walter Pater, 10 vols. Oxford UP. General Editors: Dr. Lesley Higgins and Dr. David Latham. (Ongoing).

The Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins, 8 vols. Oxford UP. General Editor: Dr. Lesley Higgins. (Ongoing)

Modern Languages and Culture Research Centre (MLC), Toronto Metropolitan University.

Director: Prof. Irene Gammel.
Digital Humanities Projects: The Journals of Florine Stettheimer and Canadian World War Two Diaries (transcription, translation, digitization, and annotation). 2019 – 2020.

Irini Northern Sector Archaeological Project, Kea, Greece

Project Leaders: Prof. R. Fitzsimons, Prof. E. Gorogianni (2010)

Recent Conference Presentations

“Woman, Witch, Barbarian: Orientalizing Medea in the Nineteenth Century.” Classical Association of Canada conference, Halifax, NS, May 2023. (refereed)

“The God of Pater’s Renaissance: Aestheticism and Dionysus.” International Walter Pater Society Conference, Trinity College, Oxford, June 2023. (refereed)

“The Maenad ‘Swarm’: Three Victorian Perspectives of Greek Maenads.” European Gender Studies in Antiquity Research Network conference (EuGeStA), Toronto, ON, June 2022. (invited)

“Quelled or Quenched in Leaves’: The Poplar Experiments of Pater, Monet, and Hopkins.” BAC Talk, Acadia University, Wolfville, NS, October 2022. (invited)

“Hymen Hunt: Forensic Sexology and Deviant Victorian Bodies.” North American Victorian Studies Association panel at ACCUTE, London, ON, June 2020. Postponed due to COVID-19. (refereed)

“The never-ending rustle of poplar trees’: Pater, Hopkins, Monet.” North American Victorian Studies Association, Columbus, OH, October 2019. (refereed)

“Victorian Boyhood and the Hippolytus Paradigm.” Victorian Studies Association of Ontario (VSAO) panel at ACCUTE, Vancouver, BC, June 2019. (refereed)

“Consuming Maidenheads: Hymens and Hymen Metaphors in Victorian Print Culture.” Victorian Studies Association of Ontario, Toronto, ON, April 2019. (refereed)

 “Wilde Boys Who Won’t Leave Neverland: Classical Myth and Victorian Manhood in Dorian Gray and Peter Pan.” Victorian Studies Network at York (VSNY), Toronto, ON, November 2019. (invited)

 “Epic Simile in Aurora Leigh.” North American Victorian Studies Association, Supernumerary Conference, Florence, Italy, 18 May 2017. (refereed)