International Spotlight: Lien Van Geel, Early Career Fellow at the Rank of Lecturer in the Discipline of Classics

Which program/department are you in?


What is your primary area of research?

Latin and Greek Literature; Women and Gender Studies.

Which country (or countries) do you come from?


How long have you been in the U.S.?

I have been in the U.S. since 2012.

Tell us about how your past experiences led you to Columbia.

I initially came to the U.S. as a recruit for the women’s tennis team at Mississippi State University, where I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Classics and English in 2016. In the same year, I started my doctoral studies in Classics here at Columbia. I completed my PhD in June 2022 and am currently an Early Career Fellow/Post Doc in Classics for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Is there anything you’d like to share about your research or projects?

Earlier this year, I defended my dissertation titled “Soror Augusti: the Literary Lives and Afterlives of Octavia Minor.” Rather than attempting to piece together a historical biography of a figure as elusive as Octavia Minor, I investigate the different attitudes that authors project in their representation of the emperor’s sister—these attitudes, in turn, influence the way in which Renaissance authors appropriate the Octavia figure in their own works.

I plan to elaborate on my dissertation in a book project on the representation of female characters of the late Roman Republic in Plutarch’s Parallel Lives. I am especially interested in the way in which Plutarch draws textual connections between multiple female characters and how he uses these comparisons to shape the narrative and these women’s representations in turn.

What do you like best about living in NYC? 

You can find world-class art, entertainment, and restaurants within a thirty minute subway ride.

What is the hardest thing about living here? 

As much as I adore New York, I continue to find the distance challenging (both to Belgium and to other parts of the U.S. on my travel wish list).

What do you know now that you wish you knew before coming here? 

There are so many things that I have learned along the way. But if I had to single out just one thing I wish I had known earlier, I would choose the multiple resources that the city and the University have to offer (numerous offers and discounts, especially Student Tickets at the Met Opera).

Connect with Lien on LinkedIn.

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