As a scholar in the field of Classical Studies, Professor Eleanor Winsor Leach positioned her writing and teaching at the intersection of Roman Literature, material culture and social history. Her characteristic interdisciplinary approach enlisted insights from literary and cultural theory to enlarge upon the classicist's traditional orientation towards a reconstructive understanding of ancient life.
Her first book Vergil's Eclogues: Landscapes of Experience studied pastoral poetry with reference to the ideology of the Roman agricultural countryside. Work on pictorial landscape representation for this project led to the more expansive treatment in The Rhetoric of Space: Visual and Literary Representations of Landscape in Republican Augustan Rome of spatial depiction as a mode of reconstructing visual imagination and the experience of viewing. Her most book The Social Life of Painting in Ancient Rome and on the Bay of Naples examined the history of programmatic mural painting in relationship to the functional definition of spaces within the dynamic of Roman social and political practice. Similar interests characterize the articles that Professor Leach published on topics in Latin Literature ranging from Plautine comedy to the Younger Pliny, on Roman painting and its Renaissance reception and on self-representation in Roman epistolary writing and portrait sculpture which was the subject of her major research project.
A native of Rhode Island, Professor Leach received her A.B. and Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College and Yale University respectively. She frequently pursued her research on Roman art in Rome and Campania, especially at the Vesuvian site of Pompeii. She held the position of Resident Scholar in Classical Studies at the American Academy in Rome, where she twice directed NEH Summer Seminars for College Teachers. She was a Visiting Fellow at the Wesleyan Institute for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, Research Triangle, and Wolfson College, Oxford University and the National Gallery in Washington's Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. Grants to support her work came from the S.F. Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. Upon coming to Indiana in 1977, she served two terms as department chairman and had been director of graduate studies. In 2004 the membership of the American Philological Association, the major North American society representing scholarship in Classics, elected her as its President for 2005/2006.