Sarah Nooter

Biography and Interests: 

Sarah Nooter

Title: Associate Professor in the Department of Classics and the College
Education: Ph.D. Columbia University, 2008
Office: Wieboldt 115
Areas of Specialization: Greek poetry, particularly Attic tragedy; modern theater and adaptation; literary theory and linguistics; Greek religion 

I write about Greek drama and modern reception and about poetry, the voice, embodiment, and performance. The core of my interest is the tightly wound formations of verse. My research spreads outward from there to 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 built 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.

My second book, The Mortal Voice in the Tragedies of Aeschylus (Cambridge University Press, 2017), is on voice in Aeschylus and Greek poetry and thought more generally. I look at how voice was conceptualized in philosophy, epic, epinician and dramatic poetry before focusing on Aeschylean tragedy as a nexus of poetic sound and embodied materiality. I argue that the playwright uses voice in his plays as both a metaphor for presence and an agent of action. After a look at how voice was imagined in Greek thought in chapter 1 and a discussion of Aeschylean drama in light of Aristophanes’ Frogs in chapter 2, I turn to the Oresteia and read it closely in terms of voice over three chapters.

I am now working on two projects on Greek poetry. One will be a book of essays on poems of the archaic and classical period and forms of embodiment. Here are I argue that Greek poets found varying ways to counter the deleterious effects of time by inscribing poetry within the physical and corporeal world. This project looks at forms of composition, performance, and also transmission, suggesting that rhythm, mimesis, and metaphor are to be understood in the same frame as papyrus finds, inscriptions on stone, and conceptions of futurity so to appreciate the powerful intervention of Greek poetry.

My other upcoming project is 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.

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 am also Editor-in-Chief of Classical Philology, a member of the Program in Poetry and Poetics, and a faculty adviser to the Court Theatre. Finally, I am the coordinator of the Poetry and the Human sequence in the Humanities Core.


Recent Publications: 


  • Sound and the Ancient Senses, ed. with S. Butler (Routledge, 2018).
  • The Mortal Voice in the Tragedies of Aeschylus (Cambridge, 2017).
  • When Heroes Sing: Sophocles and the Shifting Soundscape of Tragedy (Cambridge University Press, 2012).


  • “The Prosthetic Voice in Ancient Greece,” in The Voice as Something More, eds. Martha Feldman and Judith Zeitlin (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming).
  • “The Wooden Horse: the Unmaking of the Odyssey,” in Thinking the Greeks: A Volume in Honor of James Redfield, eds. Lillian Doherty and Bruce King (Routledge, forthcoming).
  • “Sounds from the Stage,” in Sound and the Ancient Senses, eds. Shane Butler and Sarah Nooter (Routledge Press, 2018)
  • “On Sharon Olds” in Evaluations: Critical Essays on U.S. Poetry since 1950, eds. Robert von Hallberg and Robert Faggen (University of New Mexico Press, 2018).  
  •  “The loss of telos: Pasolini, Fugard, and the Oresteia,” in A Deep Classics Reader, ed. S. Butler (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016).
  •  “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. 13Summer 2009.


  • Kidd, S. E., Nonsense and Meaning in Ancient Greek Comedy - BMCR, 2016.11.53.
  • 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.


  • Poetry and the Human
  • 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