The PROFile

Dr. Conor Whatley

Photo by Simeon Rusnak

Assistance professor, Department of Classics


Dr. Conor Whately is an assistant professor in the department of classics at the University of Winnipeg. Within his specialization of classical studies, he cites the role of women in the ancient military space as a development he’s personally interested in. 

“In the last five, 10, 15 years, there’s been a greater awareness of the place of women – what is usually seen as a primarily male space. We’re more aware of the presence of women.”

It’s part of a trend in the field to discover the human element within ancient militaries. 

“Most people think, Roman military, they think pieces on a board – moving around units, the more human approach interests me.”

The characters and players in the ancient world, from rulers to previously unstudied people, also drive Whately’s interest.

“The personalities that you read about from the crazy emperors to the powerful empresses. Even people that 50 years ago, we didn’t talk about. The 98 per cent, which have a much more prominent place because of new approaches to the evidence. I think in some ways it brings them closer to us.”

For Whately, classical scholars are viewing new sources with a more open mind than they used to, which helps to expand the field.

“I think that’s one of the main ways the field has moved in general. A lot of what we study is written by men, but people have been more willing to use inscriptions you’d find on tombstones or on scraps of paper that have survived. There’s a lot more we know about that than we ever did before. People are expanding their horizons and aren’t only interested in the Greek or Italian men like they were.” 

Follow Dr. Whately on Twitter at @ConorWhately. He also blogs regularly at


LOWEST GRADE IN UNIVERSITY: F. I failed calculus in my first year. It was a course that I never should have taken, but one which seemed to be a good idea at the time (1997). Needless to say, the subject matter and the presentation didn’t do much for me.

FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF: Not sure I have a favourite thing about myself, though I’m glad that I am open-minded and accepting about quite a lot of things.

WORST TEACHING MOMENT: There isn’t any one moment that stands out as my worst teaching moment, though there are number of little moments (argument with a student here, a class that didn’t go as well as I’d hoped there, for example). In general I think I’ve made big strides since I started here in the fall of 2009. I suspect I’ll keep on having “little worst teaching moments”, but as long as I keep on learning from those I’ll be satisfied.

WHAT’S YOUR SUPERPOWER: I’m pretty fast and efficient with my research output. I doubt I’ll defeat anyone bent on world domination with that, but it’s something. 

FAVOURITE PART ABOUT WINNIPEG: It’s either the fantastic food (restaurants, bakeries), if it had been last season the hockey (the Jets are woeful this season), or how close the city is to some beautiful countryside (Lake Winnipeg, Lake of the Woods, Pembina Valley, Spruce Woods, Riding Mountain). 

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Most of the non-work reading I do falls into the murder-mystery category (I’m becoming middle aged). So, I’ll go with a book I read as an undergrad and loved, and which I should read again. Namely, Hugh MacLennan’s The Watch that Ends the Night.

Published in Volume 70, Number 24 of The Uniter (March 17, 2016)

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