Tom Sapsford's research interests include performance, gender, and sexuality in both ancient Greek and Roman contexts with a specialization in imperial Latin verse. His first book, Performing the Kinaidos: Unmanly Men in Ancient Mediterranean Cultures, explored a figure called the kinaidos/cinaedus, who is known in antiquity for his outrageous gender performance and sexuality as well as for his distinctive style of song and dance. Sapsford is currently working on a new book project, provisionally entitled Classics and the Gay Counterculture, that looks at how a group of writers, artists, and activists from the 1950s onward used Greco-Roman culture in their work when facing criminalization, liberation in the wake of the Stonewall riots, the AIDS epidemic, and its aftermath.
Sapsford has been a fellow at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, where he worked on ancient Greek and Roman dance forms (schemata), and is a Research Associate with the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama at the University of Oxford. During the 23–24 academic year he is on research leave thanks to support from a Loeb Classical Library Foundation Fellowship and is spending the year as a Fellow at Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC.
Tom Sapsford teach several courses on classical civilization using ancient sources in translation. 'The Chorus, Ancient and Modern,' looks at group performance from the Athenian tragic stage to contemporary flash mobs; 'Greco-Roman Egypt,' explores the cultures of Egypt under the rule of the Ptolemies and Caesars; 'Everyday Aphrodite,' traces the impact of classical antiquity in the emergence of sexology as a field of scientific study, and examines the importance of ancient sexuality on modern understandings of self.
In addition, he teaches a number of language courses on imperial Latin authors such as Petronius, Juvenal, Martial, and Seneca, as well as an intermediate Latin course that uses ancient writings on the gladiatorial arena (Passion of Perpetua, excerpts from Seneca and Martial, and a selection of Latin inscriptions) to introduce students to reading unadapted Latin texts.