Kelly Olson

olson Professor of Classics and Graduate Chair

BA (Calgary), MA (Victoria), PhD (Chicago)

Office: Lawson Hall 3227
Extension: 84525
Personal Website:

Areas of Interest:

Roman society and culture (social attitudes, women and the family, sexuality, and slavery, clothing); Roman art and architecture; Latin historiography. I happily accept and supervise students at the M.A. and Ph.D. level in those subjects.

Research Interests:

Ancient history, more specifically Greek and Roman society and culture: social attitudes, social structure, women, the family, sexuality, and slavery, clothing and appearance; Greek and Roman art and architecture; Greek and Roman historiography; sexuality and appearance in Western culture. Publications include articles on costume, women, Roman art, and ancient society.

Teaching 2021-2021:

  • CS 9450A: Women in Antiquity
  • CS 3300F: Ancient Greek and Roman Sexuality
  • CS 3350G: Women in Roman Antiquity
  • GSWS: Gender & Fashion: The Historial View

Distinctions and Awards (Selected):

  • 2019-21 SSHRC Insight Dev’p Grant (for Roman Jewelry and the Technology of Enchantment)
  • 2019 Western SSHRC Explore grant
  • 2017 Western Strategic Success grant
  • 2012-2014 Teaching Fellow, School of Advanced Study in the Arts and Humanities (UWO)
  • 2011-2013 Faculty Scholar, Faculty of Arts & Humanities, Univ. of Western Ontario
  • 2011 Academic Development Fund (for Greek Dress and Romanitas in Roman Antiquity)
  • 2008-2011 SSHRC Standard Research Grant (for Men, Appearance, and Sexuality in Roman Antiquity) 

Books Published (Selected):

  • ed. A Cultural History of Beauty. Vol. I: Antiquity 500 BC -400 CE. Bloomsbury. Forthcoming 2022.
  • ed. A Cultural History of Luxury. Vol. I: Antiquity 500 BC -400 CE. Bloomsbury. Forthcoming 2022.
  • ed., with A. Batten. Dress and Religion in Mediterranean Antiquity: Greeks, Romans, Jews, Christians. Bloomsbury Academic, 2021.
  • Masculinity and Dress in Roman Antiquity (Routledge, 2017). 214 + xv pp.
  • Dress and the Roman Woman: Self-Presentation and Society (Routledge, 2008). 171 + xv pp. 


  • Masculinity, appearance, and sexuality: Roman dandies. Journal of the History of
    23.2: 2014: 182-205.
  • Cosmetics in Roman antiquity: substance, remedy, poison. Classical World 103.2: 2009: 291-310.
  • Insignia lugentium: female mourning garments in Roman antiquity, in the American Journal of Ancient History 3-4 2004-05. (2007): 89-130.
  • "Roman underwear revisited." Classical World 96.2: 2003, 201-210.
  • "Matrona and whore: the clothing of Roman women" in Fashion Theory 6.4: 2002: 387-420.
  • Roman glass gaming pieces or jewel stones in Mouseion Series III vol. 1: 2001" 127-138. 

Book Chapters (Selected):

  • ‘Dress and Adornment,’ in The Roman Imperial Court: Methods, Models, and Materials. ed. B. Kelly, S. Blake, A.G. Hug, R. Tordoff, and R. Wei.
  • ‘Introduction,’ in Batten and Olson 2021 (above): 1-7.
  • ‘Dress and religion in Roman antiquity,’ in Batten and Olson 2021 (above): 201-13.
  • ‘Dress and classical studies,’ in Batten and Olson 2021 (above): 11-18.
  • ‘Power and Identity,’ in A Cultural History of Colour. Vol. I: Antiquity 500 BC -400 CE, ed. D. Wharton. Bloomsbury Academic. 49-61.
  • 'Stola,' entry for the Oxford Classical Dictionary, 5th ed. (forthcoming 2021, Oxford Univ. Press)
  • ‘Fashion and adornment in hair.’ In A Cultural History of Hair. Vol. I: Antiquity. ed. M. Harlow (Bloomsbury 2018): 47-64.
  • 'Status.' In A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion. Vol. I: Antiquity, ed. M. Harlow (Bloomsbury 2016): 105-18.
  • 'The Roman toga : status, sexuality, identity.' In Sex in Antiquity: New Essays on Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World, edd. M. Masterson and N. Rabinowitz (Routledge 2014): 422-48.
  • 'Greek and Roman marriage' (with A. Glazebrook). In A Companion to Ancient Sexuality, ed. T. Hubbard (Wiley Blackwell, 2013): 69-82.
  • 'Gender and sexuality.' In Themes in Roman Society and Culture: An Introduction to Ancient Rome, edd. M. Gibbs, M. Nikolic, and P. Ripat (Oxford Univ. Press 2013): 164-88.
  • 'The appearance of the young Roman girl'. In Roman Dress and the Fabric of Roman Culture, edd. J. Edmondson and A. Keith (Univ. of Toronto Press, 2008): 139-57.
  • 'Matrona and whore: clothing and definition.' In Prostitutes and Courtesans in the Ancient World, edd. C. Faraone and L. McClure (University of Wisconsin Press 2006), 186-204.

Papers Read (Selected):

  • “Dress and Adornment at the Roman Imperial Court,” lecture at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, for the panel ‘Caesar’s Palace: Inside the Court of Early Imperial Rome.’ March 2020
  • “Celluloid Cleopatras 1899-2013.” University of Waterloo, Canada, February 2020 (invited lecture)
  • “Dress and Adornment at the Roman Imperial Court,” at the Adornment as Expression of Everyday Identity in Ancient and Medieval Life conference. Rome, September 2019 (keynote address)
  • “Celluloid Cleopatras 1899-2013.” Sally Katary Memorial Lecture, Thornloe University, Canada, March 2019 (invited)
  • “Fashion and Elegance in Roman Antiquity,” Art Institute of Chicago, November 2018 (invited)
  • Classical Assoc. of Canada Lecturer, October 2018 (Eastern tour), September-October 2018
  • “Fringes on garments in Roman art,” European Association of Archaeologists meeting, Barcelona, Spain, September 2018
  • “Ancient Roman hairdressing,” and “Fashion and Elegance in Roman Antiquity,” J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California, July 22, 2018 (invited)
  • “Noblewomen and leisure in Roman antiquity,” Classical Association of Canada annual meeting, St John’s, Canada, May 2017.
  • “Nasica’s toga and the death of Tiberius Gracchus.” Classical Association of Canada annual meeting, Quebec City, Canada, May 2016.
  • “Elegance and philosophies of fashion in Roman antiquity,” Dept. of Classics, Univ. of Manitoba, September 2015 (invited)
  • “Pearls and patches: status and male footwear in Roman antiquity,” Shoes, Slippers, and Sandals: Feet and Footwear in Antiquity conference, Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK. June 2015.
  •  “Resurrection and rebirth: the Antonine toga,” Resurrection and Rebirth conference, Dept. of Religious Studies, McGill University, May 2014
  • "Beware the Ill-Girt Boy: Tunics, Status, and Masculinity in Roman Antiquity," Dress and ID conference, Berlin, Germany, September 2012 (keynote address)
  • “Luxury and Dress in Roman Male Clothing,” Dress and ID Conference Study Group C: Dress and Gender, Berlin, Germany, September 2012
  • “Roman and pre-modern dandies: sexuality and affect,” The Reception of Rome and the Construction of Western Homosexual Identities conference, Durham UK, April 2012.
  • “Greek dress in Roman antiquity,” Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Frankfurt am-Main, Germany, March 2012

Service to the Discipline (Selected):

  • May 2022: co-organizing chair of the Classical Association of Canada annual meeting (London, Ontario)
  • May 2016-18: Communications Officer, Women’s Network, Classical Assoc. of Canada
  • May 2012: invited respondent, panels on Adornment in the Bible and Antiquity, Canadian Society for Biblical Studies, Congress (Kitchener-Waterloo)
  • May 2012: Organizing chair of the Classical Association of Canada annual meeting (London, Ontario)
  • March 2012: Organizing chair of Philhellenism and the Romans (panel at the Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Frankfurt am Main, Germany)
  • May 2011: Organizing Chair of Justice on the Margins in the Ancient World workshop (UWO; SSHRC funded, May 2011)
  • 2010-2013: Member, Classical Association of Canada Council