Professor Amoroso-O’Connor: Expanding the Field of Classics at Ursinus

Alena DeAntonellis (

Professor Diane Amoroso-O’Connor has been teaching since fall of 2014, securing her place as an assistant professor in Classics. She came to Ursinus due to a previous Classics professor retiring, to help the Classics majors here have enough course options to complete their major requirements. What began as a two year position has now grown into eight years at the school. Amoroso-O’Connor felt too drawn in by the students and the topics of her classes to have any desire to leave. Outside of Ursinus, she loves to knit, crochet, and go sailing, and is the owner of a bossy cat named Boudicca. She adopted her with the name, given the option to change it to her preference. However, given that Boudicca is the name of the Celtic queen who fought the Romans, she felt it was too fitting. 

Amoroso-O’Connor currently teaches CIE courses for freshmen as well as Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced levels of Latin, with plans on expanding within the next few years. Next year, she’ll be offering a course on Ancient Magic, which studies the history of Greek and Roman magic and its overlap into religion and science. She’ll be teaching this course with a Jewish studies professor, and it will include Hebrew traditions and texts in translation. She intends on including activities involving writing on papyrus and experiential projects. She’ll also be teaching a class on Roman drama, focusing on tragedies and comedies, translating the humor in the plays as well as the transition to being on stage, since most of them lack stage directions. 

In the future, Amoroso-O’Connor hopes to get authorization to teach a Greek language course at the elementary level, including some exploration of Greek texts, such as Homer and the Illiad. She also would like to offer courses in translation of cultures of the classical world, intending to give more access to students who are unable to learn the languages themselves. “Classics in Latin can be for anyone,” she said. “Historically, they’ve been very Eurocentric, making them less accessible, but the field has been opening up to undertaking more Mediterranean cultures.” 

Her favorite class to teach thus far has been the introductory Latin classes, since she loves teaching students about the grammar in the language. “While the topics for Elementary Latin stay the same every year, the students change. I’m never teaching the same people. It’s never the same class, so it’s always fun to cover those topics,” she explained. 

So far, Amoroso-O’Connor has traveled to three countries in pursuit of her career. She spent six weeks in Greece, exploring some of the archeology and digging there. She also visited Italy a few times and taught an intensive three week class around Naples and Pompeii, which she found fascinating. She went to Alexandria, Egypt to explore the area, finding a lot of information on Roman and Greek cultures there, too. She loves traveling to different countries, and would like to go back when possible, both for the sake of discovery and simply being present in such a culturally significant environment. 

As someone who has had Professor Amoroso-O’Connor every semester at Ursinus so far, I can say she’s been one of the most interesting and helpful professors to study with here. She explores diverse and intriguing topics in her courses and does her best to make them genuinely fun. The students of Ursinus have a lot to look forward to with her expansion of the topics in Classics in coming years.