Biography and Interests:
I write about Greek drama and modern reception, poetry of various times and places, and literary theory (in a supporting role). The core of my interest is the tightly wound formations of poetry. My research spreads outward from there into Greek theater, performance, the voice, language, genre, and tradition. My first book is When Heroes Sing: Sophocles and the Shifting Soundscape of Tragedy (Cambridge University Press, 2012). Here I explore the lyrically powerful voices of Sophocles’ heroes, arguing that their characterization is constructed from the poetical material of lyric genres and that this poeticity (as I call it) lends a unique blend of power and impotence to Sophoclean heroes that places them in the mold of archaic poets as they were imagined in Classical Greece.
I am currently finishing a book on voice in Aeschylus called The Mortal Voice in the Tragedies of Aeschylus (under contract with Cambridge University Press). In this book, I look at voice in Aeschylean tragedy as a nexus of poetic sound and embodied materiality and also as a performative vehicle of song and speech. I argue that the playwright uses voice in his plays as both a metaphor for presence and an agent of action. When these harmonies of literal sound and figurative signification are heard, the plays ring with remarkable clarity. After a look at how voice was imagined in Greek poetry in the archaic and classical periods, I turn to the plays of Aeschylus and end with a close reading of the Oresteia over three chapters.
My next book will be A Guide to Ancient Greek Poetry (under contract with Wiley-Blackwell) that offers competency to students and guidance to instructors in the three main genres of ancient Greek poetry—hexameter, lyric, and drama—with each one broadly conceived and traced through several stages of development. While the book will supply a basic context of historical information, circumstances of performance, and scholarly consensus, its focus will be on the formal aspect of Greek poetry, giving students access to and appreciation of the craft of ancient verse. It will explain in lucid prose the formation of dactylic hexameter lines, passages, and poems; the elegiac, iambic, and lyric schemes of shorter poetry; and finally the ways that the parameters of dramatic poetry are shaped by these earlier forms; in each of these parts I will show how the deftness of the poets’ maneuvering with forms lends to the beauty and depth of the verses at hand.
I also have an ongoing project on African drama, in which I juxtapose the production and performance of ancient Greek plays with twentieth-century theatrical productions staged in three areas of Africa—Egypt, South Africa, and several countries in West Africa. This project is a discussion of theater as a series of creative processes: claiming and creating a theatrical tradition, producing a play, defining dramatic genres, and using plays to create public space and socially significant events. I suggest that by comparing creative procedures of composing and staging, we might come to understand the Greek plays more incisively in their own context.
Finally, I am co-editing a book called Sound and the Ancient Senses with Shane Butler (under contract with Routledge). It will be Volume 6 in The Senses in Antiquity series. I’m a member of the Program in Poetry and Poetics and a faculty adviser to the Court Theatre. I will be on leave for the academic year of 2016-17, as a Fellow at the Franke Institute for the Humanities.
- The Mortal Voice in the Tragedies of Aeschylus (Cambridge, forthcoming).
- Sound and the Ancient Senses, ed. with S. Butler (Routledge, forthcoming).
- When Heroes Sing: Sophocles and the Shifting Soundscape of Tragedy (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
- “The loss of telos: Pasolini, Fugard, and the Oresteia”, in A Deep Classics Reader, ed. S. Butler (Bloomsbury Publishing, forthcoming).
- “Role-playing in Antigone and Africa: Can We Read Sophocles through Sizwe?” Arion 21.2 (Fall 2013) 11-47.
- “Reception Studies and Cultural Reinvention in Aristophanes and Tawfiq Al-Hakim,” Ramus, vol. 42, 1 & 2, (2013) 138-61.
- “Poetic Speakers in Sophocles”, in A Companion to Sophocles (Blackwell Publishing, 2012), ed. Kirk Ormand.
- “Language, Lamentation and Power in Sophocles’ Electra”, Classical World 104.4 (Summer 2011) 399-417.
- “Tragedy, Sacrifice, and the Averted Gaze”, in The Tragic Muse: Art and Emotion, 1700-1900 (University of Chicago Press), ed. Anne Leonard, 2011.
- “Uncontainable Consciousness in Sophocles’ Ajax”, Animus vol. 13, Summer 2009.
- Review of Van Weyenberg, A. The Politics of Adaption: Contemporary African Drama and Greek Tragedy - ARIEL, 46.3, July 2015.
- Review of Gagné, R. and Hopman, M. eds. Choral Mediations in Greek Tragedy - BMCR, 2014.10.50.
- Review of Ahrensdorf, P., Pangle, T. trans. Sophocles. The Theban Plays: Oedipus the Tyrant, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone - Classical Review, 66.1, April 2016.
- Review of Harrison, S. J., ed. Living Classics: Greece and Rome in Contemporary Poetry in English- Modern Philology, vol. 110.4, May, 2013.
- Review of Sophocles’ Ajax, trans. by John Lipton- BMCR, 2008.08.44.
- Review of Walton, J. M., Found in Translation: Greek Drama in English- CML 27.1, Spring 2007.
- “On Not Knowing Greek Tragedy: A Review Essay”- Text and Presentation: The Comparative Drama Conference Series, Spring 2006.
- Aeschylus and Late Lyric Poetry
- Elegy and Iambic Poetry
- Tragedy in Athens and Africa
- Lyric and Epinician Poetry
- Greek Poetry Survey
- Greek Thought and Literature
- Intermediate Greek: Sophocles
- Advanced Greek: Euripides
- Introductory Greek
- Receiving Epic: Philoctetes, Helen and Homer
- Intermediate Greek: Homer
- Advanced Greek: Aristophanes’ Frogs
Constructing Oedipus: Performance and Adaptation
Advanced Greek: Hymns: Homeric and Hellenistic