Dr. Jennifer A. Rea
Associate Professor of Classics
Jennifer Rea’s love of the classics began when she was five years old and her parents took her to the Colosseum in Rome. Since her family is from Italy, trips to Rome and Naples in her childhood increased her fascination with classical antiquity. But it was her parents’ interest in ballroom dance that led to her learning Latin at an early age. When her older brother was tasked with babysitting her during the dance lessons, he began teaching her Latin. (No one in the family remembers exactly why he chose this activity, but it might have had something to do with the fact that she had recently broken her wrist while ice skating and this was a way to get her to sit still!) She developed her research interest in Roman topography while studying at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (BA), Indiana University (MA) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (PhD).
Her curiosity about Classical Receptions of the Fantastika/Speculative Fiction came about after she went with her then-boyfriend-now-husband to an event, “An Evening with Bruce Campbell,” sponsored by the UW. At the time she had no idea who Campbell was and wondered why so many people waiting in the autograph line were holding toy chainsaws. Likewise, Campbell had no idea who she was and asked her why she was holding a copy of Classical Mythology instead of a toy chainsaw and they struck up a brief conversation about the use of Greek myth in the TV show Hercules. Her current research project, Empire without End: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Vergil, explores why Vergil’s violent foundation story remains relevant in modern science fiction and fantasy.