Marden Nichols

Marden Nichols works on ancient literature, art, and architecture from the Roman Republic and early Empire.

Photo of Marden Nichols

She is particularly interested in how debates about the significance of art and architecture shaped ancient Roman cultural and intellectual history. She has also written about the reception of classical art in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Much of her research to date has centered on the Roman architectural author Vitruvius, about whom she has written a monograph, Author and Audience in Vitruvius' De architectura (Cambridge, 2017), and several articles. Her monograph was the first in English to analyze De architectura as a work of Latin literature, and it addressed fundamental interpretive issues raised by Vitruvius’ integration of Roman material culture and social mores into a text grounded in Graeco-Roman literary traditions, most especially rhetoric. Author and Audience in Vitruvius' De architectura argues that Vitruvius crafted his authorial persona and his remarks on architecture to appeal to an imagined Roman reader, rather than to provide an accurate and objective view of his own career or the contemporary built environment. Nichols' analysis of De architectura alongside passages from Roman authors across a range of genres, including Plautus, Varro, Catullus, Cicero, and Horace, reveals the long-standing literary models for many of Vitruvius’ authorial strategies. 

Currently, with her co-author Jeanne Pansard-Besson, she is completing a monograph, under contract with Routledge, that reconsiders the significance of images of Rome's foundation within ancient visual culture. She is also conducting research towards a single-authored monograph entitled Theater and Painting in Ancient Rome, which is under contract with University of Michigan Press.

She has held research fellowships at the British School at Rome (2008-2009), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009-2010), the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art (2010-2011), and the Clark Art Institute & Williams College (2016-2017).

From 2011-2014, she was Assistant Curator of Ancient Art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, where she oversaw the collections of ancient Greek, Roman, Near Eastern, and Egyptian art and curated an international loan exhibition about the interpretation of the Book of the Faiyum, a papyrus from Graeco-Roman Egypt.

She received her PhD in Classics from Trinity College, University of Cambridge, where she was a Marshall Scholar.


Professor Nichols is the Georgetown Classics Department's Post-Bac Advisor and welcomes questions about the program. Email: marden.nichols [at] georgetown.edu