Dr. Natalie Swain
After growing up in Canada (on the Prairies), I spent much of my early adult life abroad and am very happy to be back as one of the many treaty peoples of this land. My academic interests are largely textual, literary, and linguistic, and I have a real soft-spot for Latin literature and narratology (the study of how we build and tell stories), which I often incorporate into my classroom. I am also very interested in the reception of the ancient Mediterranean world in comics, video games, and literature about the Polar regions, so please stop by to chat any time about any of these things! Before earning my PhD, I spent most of my adult life on the road, working as a tour guide in the Polar Regions, and backpacking basically anywhere they would let me, which means that I have a rather eclectic background and group of interests. I'm still a passionate traveler (and I'm keen to hear your stories), an avid gamer (both digital and tabletop), and am a dedicated cat mama and human aunt.
Teaching & Pedagogy
Although I specialize in Latin language and literature as well as reception (and teach on all of these topics) I am interested in introducing students to a variety of subjects on the ancient Mediterranean world. My teaching interests almost always take a societal perspective, whether in a first-year course on Greek or Roman society and civilizations (where that might be expected), or courses on women and the family and Greek or Roman religion and literature. While I do include material culture and archaeology, I'm particularly interested in Greek and Latin literature and how these cultures thought and talked about themselves, which is often a feature of my courses. I also like to incorporate the reception of the ancient Mediterranean world in my courses, as a method of not only connecting students to the ancient past through modern media, but also to encourage students to be more critical thinkers and consumers in the modern day.
In my classroom and coursework, I embrace Universal Design for Learning principles (https://www.cast.org/impact/universal-design-for-learning-udl), as I strive to reduce learning barriers and address the learning styles of every student in my class. As an instructor with disabilities myself, I believe that it is only in reducing these barriers and encouraging an individual love of learning (in whatever way that manifests) that education will become truly inclusive. I similarly prioritize student well-being, both inside and outside the classroom, and I commit to respecting student needs and doing what I can to help every student who comes to me. While treating my students as individuals with broad lives outside the classroom, I similarly expect my students to treat me with a similar level of consideration, as we work together to learn.
Respect, moreover, is a key tenant in my classroom. While perhaps a more traditional instructor in some ways (I do enjoy lecturing), I highly value student opinion and encouraging creative and critical thinking. Thus, I often include class discussions and activities in which all student opinions are valued and respected, while intolerance is never welcome.
If you choose to take a class with me, you can expect an enthusiastic and passionate instructor who values your opinion and respects your needs. I will often make nerdy jokes about gaming, comics, or Star Trek (don't worry, you don't have to laugh!) and I will push you to think more deeply about the material we examine and the broader world around us.
Latin literature of the Roman Republic and early Empire; narratology; comics studies; reception of the ancient Mediterranean world in comics, manga & video games; Roman gender & sexuality.