My work examines the intersection of Roman material culture (art, architecture, archaeological finds, inscribed texts) and social history. I’ve explored sexuality in Roman Italy and the provinces (highlighting the sexual activity of penetrated men and women, for example), the social functions of Pompeian graffiti (including the literacy and subjectivity of those who inscribed texts and images), and the ways modern cultures look to ancient Rome for paradigms of sexual behavior. This body of research aims to recover the contours of agency for marginalized groups like male and female prostitutes, penetrated men, and lusty women, and is thus influenced by and contributes to feminist and queer theory.
In The Brothel of Pompeii: Sex, Class, and Gender at the Margins of Roman Society (Cambridge 2019), I explore the physical, social, and emotional environment within Pompeii’s “purpose-built” brothel. In the process, I illuminate a world in which prostitutes could flout the norms of society and proclaim themselves as sexual subjects and agents (even while their sexual and emotional labor was sold), where prostitutes and clients exchanged gifts, greetings, jokes, taunts, and praise, and where enslaved clients were allowed to act like “real men.”
My current research uses a range of ancient evidence to study the lives of enslaved people in Roman Italy. In asking how we might access and write about the emotional lives of these individuals, I build on creative approaches developed in other fields (e.g., Black feminist theory; counterhistory) that encourage us to think through dimensions of experience that are otherwise beyond scholarly grasp.
I currently serve as co-chair of the Lambda Classical Caucus, and previously served as co-chair of the Women's Classical Caucus.
- Sarah Levin-Richardson. “Sex and Slavery in the Pompeian Household: A Survey.” In Slavery and Sexuality in Classical Antiquity, ed. D. Kamen and C.W. Marshall. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2021. 188-210.
- Sarah Levin-Richardson. Il lupanare di Pompei: Sesso, classe e genere ai margini della società romana. Carocci editore, 2020.
- Sarah Levin-Richardson. “Material Girls: An Introduction.” In Material Girls, ed. M. Lee and L. Hackworth Petersen. Arethusa 53 (2020): 61–67
- Sarah Levin-Richardson. "Roman and Un-Roman Sex." In Un-Roman Sex: Gender, Sexuality and Lovemaking in the Roman Provinces and Frontiers. Eds. T. Ivleva and R. Collins. Routledge, 2020. 346-359.
- Sarah Levin-Richardson. The Brothel of Pompeii: Sex, Class and Gender at the Margins of Roman Society. Cambridge University Press, 2019.
- Sarah Levin-Richardson. "Bodily Waste and Boundaries in Pompeian Graffiti." In Ancient Obsenities. Eds. D. Dutsch and A. Suter. Univeristy of Michigan Press, 2015. 225–254.
- Sarah Levin-Richardson. “‘Gay’ Pompeii: Pompeian Art and Homosexuality in the Early Twentieth Century.” In Ancient Rome and the Construction of Modern Homosexual Identities. Ed. J. Ingleheart. Oxford University Press, 2015. 197–213.
- Sarah Levin-Richardson. "Calos graffiti and infames at Pompeii." Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 195 (2015): 274-282.
- Sarah Levin-Richardson and Deborah Kamen. "Lusty Ladies in the Roman Imaginary." In Ancient Sex: New Essays. Eds. R. Blondell and K. Ormand. Columbus: Ohio State University, 2015. 231-252.
- Sarah Levin-Richardson and Deborah Kamen. “Revisiting Roman Sexuality: Agency and the Conceptualization of Penetrated Males.” In Sex in Antiquity: Exploring Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World. Eds. M. Masterson, N. Rabinowitz, and J. Robson. Routledge, 2015. 449–460.
- Sarah Levin-Richardson. “fututa sum hic: Female Subjectivity and Agency in Pompeian Sexual Graffiti.” Classical Journal 108.3 (2013): 319–45.
- Sarah Levin-Richardson. “Facilis hic futuit:Graffiti and Masculinity in Pompeii’s ‘Purpose-built’ Brothel.” Helios 38.1(2011): 59–78.
Research Advised: Undergraduate Honors Theses
Research Advised: Undergraduate Senior Theses
Research Advised: Graduate
Research Advised: Undergraduate Senior Essays
- Prof. Levin-Richardson’s work featured on Times Literary Supplement podcast - March 8, 2020
- Another spring, another successful Rome Program! - August 29, 2018
- Prof. Sarah Levin-Richardson's work featured in The Whole U: Faculty Friday - March 2, 2018
- Congrats to Megan O'Donald on her ZPE article! - February 25, 2018
- Messages from Rome - December 6, 2017
- UW Classics at the SCS/AIA! - December 1, 2017
- Professors Kamen and Levin-Richardson win national research award - January 19, 2017
- Professor Levin-Richardson's work featured in Forbes - October 5, 2016
- Feminism and Classics VII: Visions - May 27, 2016
- UW hosts seventh international conference on Feminism and Classics May 19-22 - May 15, 2016
- Sarah Levin-Richardson gives talk at Stanford - February 18, 2016
- Professor Sarah Levin-Richardson interviewed by New York magazine - October 6, 2014
- Professor Sarah Levin-Richardson wins Rome Prize - May 9, 2014
- Brothels and Prostitution at Pompeii - January 23, 2018 - 7:30pm
- German Masculinity, Nationalism, and Pompeii: Eduard von Mayer's Pompeji in seiner Kunst (1904) - October 14, 2016 - 3:30pm
- Visions: Feminism and Classics VII - May 19, 2016 to May 22, 2016