Ovid and Writing in Exile Workshop: from Rome to the Black Sea & beyond

Experiment & explore the challenges of writing in exile from 9CE to the present day.

A black and white image reading "Ovid and Exile" on the left side and "from Rome to hte Black Sea and Beyond" on the right. The logo for Durham University sits in the bottom left hand corner.


Join PhD researcher Siobhan McShane (Durham University) in an Ovid and Writing in Exile workshop where you’ll discuss the challenges of writing in exile from 9CE to the present day and get to experiment with your own writing and its links to the past. No writing experience is necessary. Just interest.

The workshop forms part of Siobhan’s research into Ovid and writing in exile.

Who is Ovid?

Ovid was a Roman poet who wrote in the 1st Century BC and AD. He wrote a lot of poetry about love and also poetry about mythology and the origins of Roman traditions. Many Greek myths you may know have been recorded in his poetry.

At the beginning of the 1st Century AD, Ovid was banished by Emperor Augustus to a small town in modern-day Romania, at the edge of the Roman Empire, called Tomis. He was never allowed to return to Rome.

Ovid wrote some poetry while in Tomis, known as his exile poetry, and also edited some of his previous work. We will look at some of this poetry in the workshop.

What will we do in the workshop?

We will read and discuss some poetry by Ovid and some pieces of writing by modern exiled writers featuring Ovid. These authors may include Salman Rushdie (Indian/British), Vintila Horia (Romanian/Canadian), Salim Bachi (Algerian/French, M. Nourbese Philip (Caribbean/Canadian) and Josef Škvorecký (Czech/Canadian). These extracts will be sent to you before the workshop.

At the workshop we will talk about the extracts. Then you will have some time to do some writing in response to the extracts we have read and the discussion. At the end, you will be able to share your writing and talk more about it.

Who is the workshop for?

Anyone who is a writer and in exile. No experience is necessary and you do not need to have any prior knowledge of Ovid.

For the workshop, being a writer and in exile are defined as follows:

Writer: Someone who writes as a job or as a hobby. You can write in any language (but the extracts we will discuss will be in English and French (translations will be provided). You don’t need to be published or even hoping to be published. Even if you don’t write much but want to learn more about writing or talk about the challenges of writing, you are welcome.

Exile: Someone who is not living in the country they grew up in or have a strong cultural connection to. You may have left by force, due to extreme danger or need, or by choice for another reason (for example to find a job or to join family). You may also have been born in the UK but have a strong connection to the culture of your parents, who were not born here.


The room is on the ground floor and Senate House is wheelchair accessible, with a ramp into the main building and lifts throughout. There is an accessible toilet. There is more information from AccessAble here: https://www.london.ac.uk/sites/default/files/governance/senate-house-south-block.pdf

What will happen after the workshop?

If you give your permission, Siobhan will record the discussion about the extracts. She will then type this recording into notes with your names and any personal information removed. The recording will be deleted and the notes not be shared with anyone else.

Siobhan’s PhD research is on the way modern writers in exile use and engage with Ovid’s writing. She may use some of the thoughts you share in the workshop to help her work out what questions to ask as she researches and might write about them in her final project. If she writes about them, the thoughts will be anonymised. This means she will not write your name or any information which could be used to work out who you are, like the countries you have lived in.

Right to withdraw

If you don’t want to be involved in the research any more you can withdraw at any time, before or after the workshop. Just ask Ruth Harrison to let Siobhan know or email her directly (contact details below). She will remove any information based on your comments from her notes. During the workshop, you can ask Siobhan to stop recording the discussion at any time or leave the workshop at any time.

To find out more and ask questions

You can read University of Durham’s Privacy Notice here: https://www.durham.ac.uk/about-us/governance/information-governance/privacy-notices/generic-privacy-notice/

For any other questions contact Ruth Harrison at [email protected]

Or email Siobhan at [email protected]