Alley Marie Jordan

Thesis title: 'The most Roman of the Romanists': Thomas Jefferson's Classical Taste, 1768-1826


Alley Marie is a PhD candidate in Classics at the University of Edinburgh. She completed her undergraduate studies in Seattle in Classics (Roman literature) and Political Science (Theory) in 2014. She then received a Master's degree in History from the University of San Diego during 2016 where she studied classical pastoralism and the presence of Virgil at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.

Alley Marie has been interested in the influence of the Classics on landscapes/gardens since working on a farm in Greece during her undergraduate studies. Since then, her love for classical pastoralism has developed into a PhD on the topic. Her research explores  Thomas Jefferson's classical taste on landscapes and architecture, infused with Epicureanism. She looks specifically how Jefferson's love of Horace and Epicureanism shaped his ideals on architecture and virtue.


PhD, Classics (in progress), University of Edinburgh

MA, History, University of San Diego

BA, Classics, Seattle Pacific University

Responsibilities & affiliations

Member: Scottish Association of Country House Archivists

Undergraduate teaching

  • Roman World 1b: Roman Empire (Spring 2020)
  • Ancient History 2b: Religion, Slavery, Death (Spring 2019)
  • Latin 1a: (Fall 2018)
  • Early Modern Europe: A Connected World (Spring 2018)
  • Making of the United States: (Fall 2017)
  • Modern United States History: (Spring 2017)

Research summary

Alley Marie's PhD focuses on classical reception on villas and gardens during the 18th-century. Specifically, she explores Thomas Jefferson's classical tastes for architecture and gardens at his own villa, Monticello and his classical University of Virginia. Alley Marie's PhD considers how classical ideals on Epicureanism, (otium, the utile dulci, docta otia and retirement), contributed to Jefferson's aesthetic/taste and, in turn, American virtue. She explores the Horatian/Epicurean concept of the utile dulci as central to the development of Jefferson's classical taste in villas and gardens.

Aside from her PhD research, Alley Marie is interested in Classical Reception and garden history more broadly. She has published an article in the Journal of Garden History called "'beautiful shells from the shore': Thomas Jefferson's Classical Grotto of 1771", published a chapter in Tolkien & the Classical World, ed. Hamish Williams, called 'Shepherds and the Shire: Classical Pastoralism in Middle-earth', and has published a chapter called 'Sublime Visions of Virginia: Thomas Jefferson's Romantic Mountainscapes' for the 2021 edited volume by Jason Koenig and Dawn Hollis, Mountains Dialogues from Antiquity to Modernity, Bloomsbury.

Alley Marie is interested in Classical Reception on eighteenth-century gardens and architecture, with particular interests in the villas and country houses of Europe, and in the reception of Epicureanism.

Current research interests

Epicureanism; Garden History; Landscape Architecture; Grand Tour; Classical Reception; Architectural History; Villas; Roman Empire; Eighteenth Century; Country Houses; Early America; Pastoralism; Palladianism; Classicism; Neoclassical; American Revolution; Enlightenment; Augustan Poets; Rusticity