Kelly MacFarlane, PhD, MA, BA

Full Teaching Professor, Faculty of Arts - History, Classics, & Religion Dept


Full Teaching Professor, Faculty of Arts - History, Classics, & Religion Dept
(780) 492-0403
2-66 Tory (H.M.) Building
11211 Saskatchewan Drive NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2H4


Area of Study / Keywords

Greek Poetry; Latin pedagogy / SLA for ancient languages


I have been teaching in Classics at the University of Alberta for the past eighteen years as a member of the Academic Teaching Staff (that is, non-permanent, non tenure-track academic staff, with a primary focus on teaching). I am not only a member of the teaching staff, but also an alum (I got my PhD from the University of Alberta in 2002). I spent a few years away from the U of A, teaching at Mt Allison as the Crake Doctoral Fellow, at then University of Western Ontario and at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale as a “contract academic” / “adjunct” (temporary teaching staff). While I enjoyed my time at the other institutions, I was very happy to come back home to the U of A. We have an excellent department, in an excellent university, full of active and engaged students, in an exciting city. I’ll pass over the issue of our winters…

My dissertation was on the Greek poetic accounts of the Persian Wars, which was primarily an analysis of how the Greeks, and the Athenians in particular, viewed themselves and their heroic actions against the invading Persian ‘barbarians.’ I’ve published several articles stemming from my dissertation, specifically the very fragmentary texts of Timotheus of Miletus and Choerilus of Samos, and at the position of Timotheus and Choerilus within the Greek poetic tradition.

While I will always have a love for Greek poets (in particular), much of my teaching involves first-year Latin, from which stems my current research in Latin paedagogy. I am working on a new method of teaching Latin, with a focus on comprehension and communication, and on understanding Latin as a real language used by real people to discuss real things that were really understood when communicated to other real people in real time. My approach is inspired by the “Living Latin” movement, which seeks to treat Latin as a functional language that students can understand as a means of communication by reading and writing and speaking and hearing it. The end result will be, I hope, a new Latin learning system that will lead current students to fall in love with Latin (and Classics!) and encourage more students to take Latin in the future.

When not immersed in all things Classics, I spend much of my free time volunteering with a local cat rescue (SAFE Team Rescue – home of many adorable adoptable kitties!): adopt; don’t shop!


My current scholarly activity centres on the course books I'm developing for Introductory Latin (taking a more interactive approach to learning Latin as a "real"language) and for my CLASS 291: Introduction to Scientific Terminology, intended to help students understand the influence Classics had on modern science and helping them to make sense of scientific vocabulary by teaching them the Greek and Latin roots that form so much of scientific terminology. 

My other research is part of Brill's Research Perspectives in Classical Poetry series; I will be writing the article on later Greek epic.

In the (hopefully near!) future, I want to get back to the work on was doing on socially unacceptable behaviour in Athens and Rome -- this was inspired by recent work on modern A**holes and what that word signifies and why. I thought it would be interesting to see who would have been considered an "A-hole" by the ancients. 

As a Teaching Professor (I am a member of the Academic Teaching Staff constituency with "career status"), I am not able to supervise graduate students. I am, however, able to be a member of advisory committees for MA and PhD students


I regularly teach multiple sections of our first year Latin courses (LATIN 101 and 102), and am working on material to facilitate teaching Latin in an more interactive fashion, with a greater focus on learning the language as a language, and with less of a focus on the traditional "grammar and translation" approach. While grammar will always (of course!) have a place in the Latin class, by shifting the focus from the overt analysis of grammar to understanding Latin as a real language, used by real people, to say real things, I hope to enhance the student experience in the classroom through exciting and engaging things to read and discuss, and in the process, revitalize our Latin program. 

I am developing a new course (CLASS 291: Introduction to Scientific Terminology), aimed primarily at students with an interest in the Sciences. So much of scientific vocabulary is derived from Greek and Latin roots, and so an understanding of those roots and the language of science can help students master scientific vocabulary. Because most of the available material is aimed largely at medical sciences and medical terminology, and so excludes terminology of botany, geography, biology (to name just a few!), I am developing a new course book intended to teach students the roots of scientific English, the nature of scientific language, and the influence of the Classics on the Sciences. (The Liberal Arts and STEM are better when we view them as STEAM!)

Other courses I teach include are our literature in translation courses: Classical Lit (CLASS 221), Greek Lit (CLASS 321), Roman Lit (322), and special topics courses involving specific literature and culture topics (eg Augustan Literature, or Periclean Athens), and our popular courses on Magic and Witchcraft in the ancient world and on Ancient Science, Technology, and Medicine (CLASS 294).


CLASS 294 - Ancient Science, Technology, and Medicine

An introduction to the development of science, technology, and medicine in the ancient world with particular reference to the civilizations of Greece and Rome.

CLASS 299 - Topics in the Ancient World

CLASS 399 - Topics in the Ancient World

LATIN 101 - Beginners' Latin I

Elements of Latin grammar and reading of simple texts. Note: Not to be taken by students with credit in Latin 30 or Latin 103.

LATIN 102 - Beginners' Latin II

A continuation of LATIN 101. Prerequisite: LATIN 101 or consent of Department. Not open to students with credit in LATIN 103.

LATIN 410 - Topics in Latin Prose

LATIN 510 - Topics in Latin Prose

Browse more courses taught by Kelly MacFarlane

Scholarly Activities

Research - "Later Greek Epic" for Brill's series "Research Perspectives in Classical Poetry"

20180601 to 20200101

I am writing the article on "Later Greek Epic," which will be an overview of the current scholarship and research trends, featuring, Antimachus, Erinna, Apollonius, Callimachus's Hecale, Moschus, Theocritus' epyllia, Quintus, Colluthus, Tryphiodorus, Nonnus, the Orphic Argonautica and, of course, my buddy Choerilus of Samos. 

Research - "The Language of Medicine: Knowing a little Greek and Roman mythology, science and technology helps"

July 1, 2021 to July 1, 2021

I was invited to give a talk on how the language, history, and culture of ancient Greece and Rome have influenced the modern language of medicine. Knowing a little Greek and Latin can help not only with scientific words (such as my personal favourite "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis") but also with understanding the reasons behind the names used to identify certain syndromes, and some of the problems of such nomenclature. "Erysichthon Syndrome," named for a king who ate himself, literally, to death, identifies a medical condition characterized by overeating, against a medical professional's warning. But is Erysichthon, whose insatiable hunger was divine punishment for an offence against a god, an appropriate eponym?

The Art of Medicine Rounds Touches Hearts

Other - Classics at the U-School

September 2020 to May 2021

Thanks to a Classics Everywhere grant at the Society for Classical Studies, we were able to offer enhanced programming at the University of Alberta's U-School. Students from under-resourced schools in and around Edmonton were able to enjoy presentations on life as a Classics student (from several of our Classics majors), on Life in Ancient Athens (Frances Pownall) and on Myth and Monsters (Katy Mackay), and to create their own Greek-themed vases.

Blog: Classics Everywhere: Fostering Interaction and Engagement in School-Aged Children

Teaching - Introductory Latin: An Interactive Approach

Together with my colleague, and husband, Christopher S. Mackay, I am developing a new course book to be used in my introductory Latin sections. This book is designed to improve student engagement with Latin by offering them fun, interesting and engaging material that allows them to use Latin as a real language rather than simply a language to be translated, somewhat passively, into English. Our textbook puts into practice the philosophy of learning Latin by means of active engagement, through material to read, react to, and discuss. The textbook is made freely available to students via eClass. (Student feedback on the new material has been positive and supportive.)  

Research - The (Latin) Cases: A Possible Bridge between Active Latin and Grammar-Translation

2023-04-12 to 2023-04-12

Paper presented at an international seminar series "Langues Anciennes Méthodes Nouvelles? (Feb. 1- April 26 2023)" (Aix Marseille Université), discussing ways to bridge the gap between the two solitudes of ancient language teaching.

Research - The Language of Medicine: Classical Influences on Medico-Scientific Terminology

March 31, 2021 to March 31, 2021

As part of the Arts and Humanities in Health and Medicine Speakers Series, I presented on the influence of Greek, Latin, and Classics in general on the medical terminology.

AHHM Speakers Series