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Dr Laura Swift

Laura Swift photo

Profile summary

  • Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Art His, Class St, Eng&CW, Mus
  • Classical Studies
  • laura.swift

Professional biography

I studied for my undergraduate and graduate degrees at Magdalen College, Oxford. I then taught in Oxford as a Junior Research Fellow (Trinity College, 2006-9) and as a Lecturer in Classics (New College, 2009-10), and subsequently held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at UCL (2010-12), before coming to the OU in April 2012.

I was awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship in 2012, which I held at the Freie Universität zu Berlin, and in 2015 won a Philip Leverhulme Prize, awarded by the Leverhulme Trust to 'recognise the achievement of outstanding researchers'.

Research interests

My research interests are in the field of archaic and classical Greek poetry and drama. I have recently completed a commentary on the seventh-century BC poet Archilochus (in press with OUP). In antiquity, Archilochus was considered one of the most important poets and rated second only to Homer, but the fragmentary state of his text has led to his being neglected by modern scholars. However, the discovery of new Archilochus poems throughout the latter half of the twentieth century (and most recently a major new fragment in 2005) has reaffirmed his importance in the development of Greek poetry. I have also published on other lyric authors including Sappho and Stesichorus, and am currently editing a Blackwell Companion to Greek Lyric Poetry.

My other major research interest is Greek tragedy, and in particular on the relationship between the tragic chorus and other types of choral song performed in Greek society. My book The Hidden Chorus (2010) argued for the central importance of choral song as a cultural tool in Greek society, and suggested a reading of tragedy that placed as much weight on the musical contexts of fifth-century Athens as much scholars have traditionally placed on historical or political ones. I have also published more broadly on tragedy, including an introduction to Greek tragedy (2016) and a book on Euripides' Ion (2008)

 

 

Teaching interests

I have taught widely on topics covering both Greek and Latin languages and literature. I have recently acted as Chair of our new Latin language and literature course (A276), for which I authored material on Augustan literature, and have produced material on Homer and the early Greek world for our upcoming module Exploring the classical World (A229). I have also been involved in the module teams for the previous version of Exploring the Classical World (A219) and Reading Classical Greek: Language and Literature (A275).

Impact and engagement

I am currently collaborating with theatre company Potential Difference to create a piece of modern theatre inspired by fragmentary plays of Euripides, and by the ways we experience fragmentation in our own world. This began life as a showing in 2014 November as part of the Being Human Festival, the UK's first national festival of the Humanities. The second stage of the project involved further creative development and work-in-progress showings at Ovalhouse, London and The Old Fire Station, Oxford in autumn 2017. We are working towards a full production in 2019. For more information, see here.

I have also participated in a range of other engagement projects which aim to bring Classics to a wider audience. For example, I acted as academic consultant to the National Theatre’s production of Antigone, and have been involved in the Mayor of London’s “Love Latin” scheme, which aims to bring classical topics to children at London state schools. I speak regularly at schools and sixth form conferences, and am happy to be contacted directly by teachers.

Research Activity

Externally funded projects

Fragments

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01/Mar/201731/Jul/2017ESRC Economic and Social Research Council;University of Oxford
This project explores fragments and fragmentation as an essential part of the human experience, and how this can be communicated artistically in a live performance. It investigates links between the methodology of dealing with ancient fragmentary texts and research on how the brain deals with the partial sensory information we receive as our everyday experience. It will explore issues around attention, perception, and memory, both as themes in ancient fragmentary texts and as topics in cognitive science.

Philip Leverhulme Prize

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01/Oct/201630/Sep/2019LEVERHULME The Leverhulme Trust
The Philip Leverhulme prize will allow me to devote concentrated time to my research between 2016 and 2019, and in particular to a new project on tragic fragments, where I hope to make significant inroads into completing a monograph on the literary and cultural significance of these challenging texts. I will also be developing collaborations with theatre practitioners, which I believe has the potential to enrich this research greatly. My 2014 collaboration with Potential Difference Theatre opened my eyes to the dramatic power of fragments and helped me move beyond purely technical questions, and to explore connections between scholarly methodologies for dealing with fragmentary texts, and contemporary ideas of how we experience life in a fragmentary way - for example in unreliable memories or misunderstandings - and how we fill in gaps in our vision of the world.

Ancient Fragments (Being Human Festival)

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01/May/201430/Apr/2015SAS School of Advanced Study
This is the first stage of a collaboration between academic Dr.Laura Swift and theatre practitioners Potential Difference to produce a piece of modern theatre inspired by and based on 'lost' Greek tragedies (i.e. texts that survive only in fragmentary form), in particular Euripides' Stheneboea. The piece was followed by a panel discussion about the collaborative process. The event was part of the Being Human festival in November 2014 (the UK's first national festival of the Humanities).

Publications

Thinking with Brothers in Sappho and Beyond (2018)
Swift, Laura
Mouseion: Journal of the Classical Association of Canada, 15(1) (pp. 71-87)
Negotiating seduction: Archilochus’ Cologne Epode and the transformation of epic (2015-06-08)
Swift, Laura
Philologus, 159(1) (pp. 2-28)
Telephus on Paros: genealogy and myth in the 'new Archilochus' poem (P. Oxy. 4708) (2014-12)
Swift, Laura
Classical Quarterly, 64(2) (pp. 433-447)
Archilochus the ‘anti-hero’? Heroism, flight and values in Homer and the new Archilochus fragment (P.Oxy. LXIX 4708) (2012-11)
Swift, L. A.
Journal of Hellenic Studies, 132 (pp. 139-155)
The symbolism of space in Euripidean choral fantasy (Hipp. 732-85, Med. 824-65, Bacch. 370-433) (2009-12)
Swift, L. A.
Classical Quarterly, 59(2) (pp. 364-382)
How to make a goddess angry: making sense of the Demeter Ode in Euripides' Helen (2009-10)
Swift, Laura
Classical Philology, 104(4) (pp. 418-438)
Sexual and familial distortion in Euripides' Phoenissae (2009-04)
Swift, L. A.
Transactions of the American Philological Association, 139(1) (pp. 53-87)
Mixed choruses and marriage songs: a new interpretation of the third stasimon of the Hippolytos (2006-11)
Swift, L. A.
Journal of Hellenic Studies, 126 (pp. 125-40)
Archilochus: The Poems (2019-02-14)
Swift, Laura
ISBN : 9780198768074 | Publisher : Oxford University Press (In Press)
Greek Theatre and Imperial Image: OCR Classical Civilisation AS and A Level Components 21 and 22 (2017-07-13)
Hancock-Jones, Robert; Renshaw, James and Swift, Laura
ISBN : 9781350015111 | Publisher : Bloomsbury Academic
Greek Tragedy: Themes and Contexts (2016-10-06)
Swift, Laura
Classical World
ISBN : 9781474236836 | Publisher : Bloomsbury Academic | Published : London
The hidden chorus: echoes of genre in tragic lyric (2010-01)
Swift, L. A.
Oxford Classical Monographs
ISBN : 9780199577842 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
Euripides: Ion (2008-05)
Swift, Laura
Duckworth Companions to Greek and Roman Drama
ISBN : 9780715637449 | Publisher : Duckworth | Published : London
Competing generic narratives in Aeschylus' Oresteia (2018-02)
Swift, Laura
In: Andujar, Rosa; Hadjimichael, Theodora and Coward, Thomas eds. Paths of Song: The Lyric Dimension of Greek Tragedy (pp. 119-136)
ISBN : 978-3-11-057591-0 | Publisher : De Gruyter (In Press)
Narratorial Authority and its Subversion in Archilochus (2017-03)
Swift, Laura
In: Bakker, Egbert ed. Authorship and Greek Song: Authority, Authenticity, and Performance (pp. 161-177)
ISBN : 9789004339699 | Publisher : Brill
Medea (2016-12-27)
Swift, Laura
In: McClure, Laura ed. A Companion to Euripides. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World (pp. 80-91)
ISBN : 978-1-119-25750-9 | Publisher : Wiley-Blackwell | Published : Chichester
Visual Imagery in Parthenaic Song (2016-05)
Swift, Laura
In: Cazzato, Vanessa and Lardinois, André eds. The Look of Lyric: Greek Song and the Visual. Studies in Archaic and Classical Greek Song (1) (pp. 255-287)
ISBN : 9789004311633 | Publisher : Brill | Published : Leiden
Poetics and precedents in Archilochus’ erotic imagery (2016-02-18)
Swift, Laura
In: Swift, Laura and Carey, Chris eds. Iambus and Elegy: New Approaches (pp. 253-270)
ISBN : 9780199689743 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
Lyric visions of epic combat: the spectacle of war in archaic personal song (2015-10-22)
Swift, Laura
In: Bakogianni, Anastasia and Hope, Valerie eds. War as Spectacle: Ancient and Modern Perspectives on the Display of Armed Conflict (pp. 93-109)
ISBN : 9781472522290 | Publisher : Bloomsbury Academic | Published : London
Stesichorus on Stage (2015-06)
Swift, Laura
In: Finglass, P. J. and Kelly, A. eds. Stesichorus in Context (pp. 125-144)
ISBN : 9781107069732 | Publisher : Cambridge University Press
The animal fable and Greek iambus: ainoi and half-ainoi in Archilochus (2014-11)
Swift, Laura
In: Werner, C. and Sebastini, B. eds. Gêneros poéticos na Grécia antiga: Confluências e fronteiras (pp. 49-77)
ISBN : 978-85-7732-255-8 | Publisher : Humanitas | Published : São Paulo
Conflicting identities in the Euripidean chorus (2013-05)
Swift, Laura
In: Gagné, Renaud and Hopman, Marianne eds. Choral mediations in Greek tragedy (pp. 130-154)
ISBN : 9781107033283 | Publisher : Cambridge University Press | Published : Cambridge
Paeanic and Epinician healing in Euripides' Alcestis (2012-01)
Swift, Laura
In: Rosenbloom, David and Davidson, John eds. Greek Drama IV: Texts, Contexts, Performance (pp. 149-168)
ISBN : 978-0-85668-870-6 | Publisher : Oxbow Books | Published : Oxford
Epinician and tragic worlds: the case of Sophocles' Trachiniae (2011)
Swift, Laura A.
In: Athanassaki, Lucia and Bowie, Ewen eds. Archaic and Classical Choral Song: Performance, Politics and Dissemination. Trends in Classics: Supplementary Volumes (10) (pp. 391-413)
ISBN : 9783110254013 | Publisher : Walter de Gruyter | Published : Berlin
Moralizing Strategies in Early Greek Poetry (2018-03-19)
Allan, William and Swift, Laura eds.
Mouseion
Publisher : University of Toronto Press | Published : Toronto
Iambus and Elegy: New Approaches (2016-02-18)
Swift, Laura and Carey, Chris eds.
ISBN : 978-0199689743 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford

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