I'm a Classicist by training, meaning that my Ph.D. focused on ancient Greek literature. However, I also have a strong interest in the modern world, particularly in popular culture (film, television, comics, and so on). I'm especially interested in how these two worlds intersect--that is, how modern popular culture makes use of the ancient world. Both of these interests are reflected in my written work, titles and descriptions of which appear below.
This article takes a look at two proems to Homer’s epic poem the Iliad that have sometimes been considered “alternates” (and poor ones at that) to the modern canonical text that we have. Through diction, theme, and meter, I build on the observations of some scholars that these proems are in fact authentic, traditional multiforms by taking into consideration the probable context of rhapsodic competition and performance. I conclude that these proems generate very different interpretations of the Iliad than the canonical proem, a practice designed to accrue more authority to the performing rhapsode.
Published in 2016 in The American Journal of Philology 137 (3): 377-409.
In this article, co-authored with Travis Nygard of Ripon College, we argue that a series of screenprints made by American Pop artist Andy Warhol in 1982 reflect several facets of Warholian and American identities in the late 20th century. Warhol was inspired to make the prints because of the blockbuster exhibition “The Search for Alexander” that was touring North America at the time.
Published in 2016 in the Classical Receptions Journal 8 (2): 253-275.
“The Fast and the Furious: Triphiodorus’ Reception of Homer in the Capture of Troy.” In Brill’s Companion to the Greek and Latin Epyllion and its Reception, edited by Manuel Baumbach and Silvio Bär, Brill 2012, pp. 371-409.
In this book chapter, I examine the mechanics of reception in the third-century AD poet Triphiodorus’ short (approximately 700- line) poem about the final night at Troy. My analysis triangulates the depictions of the fall of Troy by Homer, Triphiodorus, and Quintus of Smyrna, third-century AD writer of the epic Posthomerica, in order to better understand why Triphiodorus wrote a short hexameter poem on an epic subject.
“The Twilight of Olympus: Deicide and the End of the Greek Gods.” In Classical Myth on Screen, edited by Monica S. Cyrino and Meredith E. Safran, Palgrave Macmillan 2015.
This book chapter charts the motif of the deaths of the Greek gods, beginning with with the 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts through the 2012 films Wrath of the Titans and Immortals. The ancient Greeks discussed this phenomenon very infrequently, and it certainly did not make it into the myths and narratives that have filtered into modern popular culture. I argue that this motif has arisen because of Christian-inflected thinking about the behavior of divinity and the resulting perception of fickleness among the Olympians. I conclude that modern films and television programs kill of the gods, not because antiquity is no longer relevant to the present, but because these texts desire to make a stronger connection between their modern audience and elements of the past.
“Classical Antiquity and Western Identity in Battlestar Galactica.” In Classical Traditions in Science Fiction, edited by Brett M. Rogers and Benjamin Eldon Stevens, Oxford University Press 2015.
This chapter examines the quotations of classical antiquity in the television series Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009), from religious systems to architecture. Classical antiquity is used to characterize the human civilization, which is constantly threatened with extinction by a civilization of machines. The conclusion of the series, in which the two civilizations come together to survive on a prehistoric Earth, seems to posit a jettisoning of the identity that had caused the conflict in the first place, including classics. Battlestar Galactica thus positions classical antiquity as integral to the human race but also something that must be abandoned if its future is to be secured.
“Gorgo at the Limits of Liberation.” In Screening Love and Sex in the Ancient World on Screen, edited by Monica S. Cyrino, Palgrave Macmillan 2013.
I consider the problematic reception of ancient women by modern society. I take Gorgo, the queen of Sparta in Zack Snyder’s film 300 (2007), as the principle case study. Snyder’s Gorgo is problematic, I argue, because her character partakes both of modern expectations about liberated women as well as ancient depictions of “liberated” Spartan women, value systems that contradict one another.
“Hard-Boiled Hot Gates: Making the Classical Past Other in Frank Miller’s Sin City: The Big Fat Kill.” In Classics and Comics, edited by C. W. Marshall and George Kovacs, Oxford University Press 2011.
I look at the allusions to of the battle of Thermopylae in one narrative arc of the neo-noir comic book Sin City. As a paradigm for the hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned central protagonist of The Big Fat Kill, Thermopylae is a good fit. However, it is ultimately discarded as being inappropriate to the exigencies of the modern world.