Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson

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Academic Background

I was an undergraduate at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford, where I read Literae Humaniores. Thereafter I won a scholarship to study at Harvard University. I returned to the UK and pursued postgraduate studies in Classics Education at Trinity College, Cambridge and at the University of Glasgow. My doctoral thesis examined the role of Classical rhetoric and responsible citizenship in contemporary education.

I have been awarded a number of prestigious fellowships. I was a Fulbright Visiting Professor at the University of Hawaii, a Churchill Fellow in Australia and an Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. I am also the recipient of a Teaching Star award from the Institute of International Education in New York. I am currently collaborating with the Classics department at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa on a project to boost children’s literacy through the study of Classics.

I am the Outreach Officer of the Classical Association and a steering group member of the British Curriculum Forum. I sit on the US-UK Fulbright Commission's Alumni Council.

Research Interests

My research interests lie in Humanities education. I research the value of a Classical education in the twenty-first century. I lead research on the Classics in Communities project (https://classicsincommunities.web.ox.ac.uk) where I investigate what impact the learning of Latin and Greek has on children’s cognitive development. I am particularly keen to understand if the learning of Latin and Greek boosts the cultivation of literacy and critical literacy skills.

The intersection of Classical rhetoric, oracy and citizenship education is an area in which I am research-active. I work on the rhetorical theories of Aristotle, Cicero and Quintilian. I am currently contributing to a range of pedagogical and academic projects where this expertise is directly benefitting teachers, speechwriters, politicians and policy-makers.

Research Keywords

Classics education, rhetoric, citizenship, literacy, critical literacy, political discourse, argumentation, pedagogies and teacher education.


I have extensive experience of teaching both in secondary schools and in Higher Education. I have taught a range of topics including the Latin and Greek languages at all levels, Roman History, Republican oratory, Epic literature, Numismatics and Classical Drama. I regularly contribute to Initial and Continuing Teacher Education in the Humanities as a subject expert.


Full Publications: holmes-henderson_pubs.pdf

Selected Publication:

  • Classics and 21st-Century Skills

  • Forward with Classics

  • Teaching Latin and Greek in Primary Classrooms: the Classics in Communities project

  • A Celebration of Greek Language and Culture Education in the UK

  • Responsible Citizens and Critical Skills in Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence: The Contribution of Classical Rhetoric to Democratic Deliberation