Rebecca Moorman

Robert J. Reinhold Dissertation Fellow (2019-2020)

Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies (CANES), UW-Madison

Portrait image of Rebecca Moorman standing outdoors in front of trees. Moorman has short hair, is smiling, and wears a patterned blouse under a brown jacket and dark glasses

Engrossing the Reader: Delight and Disgust in Latin Literature

Disgust is a powerfully dangerous mechanism for social organization because it connects moral judgment with sensory-based impulse, appearing to provide physical confirmation of social prejudice. At the same time, disgust can fascinate and delight, inviting us to lean in for closer investigation. Building on recent research into aesthetic emotions and the senses in ancient literature, my dissertation explores how disgust functions in Latin literature and philosophy as both a tool for instruction and a vehicle for literary pleasure. Using case studies from Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura, Persius’ Satires, and Apuleius’ Metamorphoses, I demonstrate the instructional ability of disgust either to deter readers from ideas and objects through “aversive disgust,” or to engage the reader’s attention through “aesthetic disgust.”

Rebecca Moorman is a Ph.D. candidate in Classics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Rebecca’s general research interests include Republican and Imperial Latin literature, Roman prose fiction, ancient literary criticism, Roman philosophy, gender and sexuality, and ancient biography. Her dissertation explores the intersection between instruction, pleasure, and disgust in Latin literature, focusing on the works of Lucretius, Persius, and Apuleius.

A recipient of UW’s Early Excellence in Teaching Award, Rebecca has taught a variety of classes in the Department of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, including elementary and intermediate Latin, Classical Mythology, and Greek Civilization. Rebecca holds an MA in Classics from UW-Madison and a BA in Classical Languages (summa cum laude) from Macalester College.