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Amber Gartrell

Could you tell us a little about your time at Warwick?

When I first arrived at the department for induction, I remember being rather nervous, however the welcome party with the other first year students and lecturers really did help to break the ice. The passion that all the lecturers had for their subjects was obvious and engaging through lectures, seminars and conversation. On one occasion, during a particularly snowy winter, only a few of us managed to make it in to campus for a lecture which had to be cancelled. However, to reward us for our efforts, Dr Stanley Ireland gave us the opportunity for a hands-on introduction to the department’s coin collection and the subject of numismatics more widely.

My undergraduate and masters’ dissertations supervisor, Professor Alison Cooley, encouraged me to explore my own ideas whilst challenging me to explore the deeper significance of my argument. Many of the members of the department have continued to encourage and support me even after I graduated. Professor Alison Cooley has given me much advice and support since I left Warwick, discussing my current and future research projects.

What have you done since graduating?

I enjoyed my undergraduate degree at Warwick so much that I applied to stay in the department, undertaking a taught MA degree in the Material and Visual Culture of Ancient Rome. This course included a two month stay at the British School at Rome, giving me a fantastic opportunity to explore the city’s sites and history in great detail. This degree provided me with training and experiences which continue to aid my research today. I began my D.Phil in Ancient History at the University of Oxford in 2011, exploring the Cult of the Dioscuri in Rome from the Mid-Republic into the Early Principate. I successfully defended my thesis in a viva examination in 2015. Since completing my doctorate, I have remained at Oxford as a Stipendiary Lecturer in Ancient History at St Hilda’s College and as a member of the Decanal team at St Edmund Hall.

And you have stayed in touch with the department since you left. How did this come about?

I happened to see Dr Stanley Ireland at the first conference at which I presented as a doctoral student and he made the effort to come along to hear my paper and give me feedback afterwards. Through chance meetings in the library, at lectures or conferences, I have also continued to see other members of the department who have been delighted to discuss how my career has progressed and to pass on news from Warwick.

I was invited back to the Classics and Ancient History department at Warwick earlier this year to give a paper at the Postgraduate Work in Progress seminar series. It was a wonderful (if slightly surreal) experience to stand on the other side of a lectern to present some of my research to current staff and students in a room I had been taught in several years before!

What does your current role involve?

As a Stipendiary Lecturer in Ancient History, I teach undergraduate students a wide range of papers on Roman history as well as thematic modules on ancient religion and texts and contexts. Alongside my teaching role, I also have pastoral responsibilities for a year group of undergraduate students. Many of the aspects of the ancient world I explore today, I first studied in detail during my time at Warwick. The idea for the subject of my doctoral thesis developed from a topic which first caught my interest during my Masters’ degree. In particular, my interest in Roman history from the late Republic to early Empire was piqued by modules I took in the second and third years of my undergraduate degree. One of the wonderful benefits of continuing my career in academia means that I am constantly utilising and re-examining questions, subjects and evidence to which I was first introduced during my time at Warwick.

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