Rachel Morrison

A photo of Rachel Morrison

Originally from northeast Ohio, I earned my B.A. in Classics from Denison University in 2016 and my M.A. in Classical Languages from the University of Kansas in 2018.

My dissertation examines Roman letters as a site for the theorization, maintenance, and complication of long-distance friendship in the ancient world. Although it is physical distance that incites letter-writing, I argue that geographical separation serves as a cipher for more significant forms of distance that loom over a correspondence: inequalities of age, status, wealth, religion, commitment to the friendship. While correspondents often express intimacy by foregrounding their anticipation of a reunion, in many cases the letter is more a site of nostalgia than anticipation, mythologizing an idealized version of past co-presence. This nostalgic ideal, along with the asynchronicity of the letter, can foster different forms of closeness—but it can also allow for the avoidance of intimacy.

Another branch of my research centers on abolitionist reception of the classics in the United States. My piece on Terence as exemplum in eighteenth- and nineteenth century conversations about slavery, morality, and humanitas in the United States won the 2023 Erich S. Gruen Prize. I also have a project in progress on H. Cordelia Ray’s “Echo’s Complaint,” the subject of my talk at the 2024 SCS International Ovidian Society panel “Ovid in Retrospect.”

At KU and UCLA, I have been the instructor of record for the first-year Latin sequence, summer intensive Greek, Classical Mythology, and Discovering the Romans.


  • “‘An Answ’ring Cadence’: Ovidian Retrospection in Henrietta Cordelia Ray’s ‘Echo’s Complaint.’” Society for Classical Studies, Chicago, Illinois, January 5, 2024.
  • ubique praesentem mihi: Long-Distance Amicitia and Physical Presence in the Letters of Paulinus of Nola.” Society for Classical Studies, New Orleans, Louisiana, January 7, 2023.
  • “Everywhere Present to Me: Time, Space, and Queer Belonging in the Letters of Ausonius of Bordeaux and Paulinus of Nola.” Q-Grad Conference, UCLA, May 27, 2022.
  • “And Who is My Philos?: Redefining Friendship in Euripides’ Orestes.” Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Birmingham, Alabama, May 30, 2020. Postponed and moved online due to COVID-19.
  • “‘Una manus vobis vulnus opemque feret’: Rosalind as Ovid in Shakespeare’s As You Like It.” Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Kitchener, Ontario, April 8, 2017.


  • Society for Classical Studies Erich S. Gruen Prize, 2023
  • Graduate Research Mentorship (with Amy Richlin), UCLA: 2021 – 2022
  • Graduate Summer Research Mentorship (with Sander Goldberg), UCLA: 2021
  • Graduate Summer Research Mentorship (with Kathryn Morgan), UCLA: 2019
  • Monte E. Livingston Fellowship, UCLA: 2018 – 2019
  • Anthony P. Corbeill Outstanding Graduate Student Award, KU: 2018
  • Sterling Walker Greek Prize, KU: 2018
  • Alfred O. Greef Latin Translation Award, KU: 2018
  • Mildred Lord Greef Award for Best Graduate Student Paper, KU: 2017
  • Jane Harris Scholarship, KU: 2016 – 2017


  • B.A. in Classics, Denison University (2016)
  • M.A. in Classical Languages, University of Kansas (2018)