Mark Payne

Biography and Interests: 

Mark Payne

Title: Chester D. Tripp Professor, Classics, Comparative Literature, the John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought, and the College
Education: Ph.D. Columbia University 2003
Office: Classics 24
Areas of Specialization: Poetry and poetics; animal/plant studies, and ecology more generally; primitivisim and speculative fiction

Within Greek and Roman literature, I have worked on lyric and didactic poetry, comedy, and Hellenistic poetry. More broadly, I am interested in animal and plant studies, primitivism ancient and modern, and, most recently, speculative fiction. I have published three books: Theocritus and the Invention of Fiction (Cambridge University Press, 2007); The Animal Part: Human and Other Animals in the Poetic Imagination (The University of Chicago Press, 2010), winner of the 2011 Warren-Brooks Award for Outstanding Literary Criticism; and Hontology: Depressive Anthropology and the Shame of Life (Zero Books, 2018). My current book project explores the relationship between freedom and the return of the past in ancient and modern post-apocalyptic fiction. I am also working with poet Stephanie Burt on a new edition of Callimachus for the Lockert Poetry in Translation series.

Recent Publications: 


  • Hontology: Depressive Anthropology and the Shame of Life (Zero Books, 2018).
  • The Animal Part: Human and Other Animals in the Poetic Imagination (The University of Chicago Press, 2010).
  • Theocritus and the Invention of Fiction (Cambridge University Press, 2007).


  • In preparation. "Dependently." In Asad Raza, Root sequence, mother tongue, edited by Olivia Fairweather. Cologne: Walther König.
  • In preparation. "Theocritus and nonhuman life." In The Brill Companion to Theocritus, edited by Evina Sistakou, Antonois Rengakos, and Poulheria Kyriakou. Leiden: Brill.
  • Forthcoming. "Poetry, vegetality, relief from being." Environmental Philosophy.
  • Forthcoming. “What’s an ark?” Relegere special issue/Bible in effect series, edited by Matthew Chrulew.
  • Forthcoming. "Shared life as chorality in Schiller, Hölderlin, and Hellenistic poetry." In Antiquities Beyond Humanism, edited by Emanuela Bianchi, Sara Brill, and Brooke Holmes. Oxford: Oxford University Press: Classics in Theory series.
  • 2018. “Fidelity and farewell: Pindar’s ethics as textual events.” InTextual Events, edited by Felix Budelmann and Tom Phillips. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 257-74.
  • 2017. “Centaur.” In liquid antiquity, edited by Brooke Holmes. Athens: DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art: 120-23.



  • Plotinus (with Gabriel Lear)
  • Philosophy and the Poetics of Presence in Postwar France (with Alison James)
  • Hölderlin and the Greeks (with Christopher Wild)
  • Intermediate Greek: Sophocles
  • Greek Elegy and Iambic Poetry
  • Introductory Greek