Ph.D., University of Chicago
Areas of Focus:
Greek social and intellectual history, with particular focus on mythology, religion, magic, and Platonic philosophy. I have published on Plato, on Orphica (including the mysterious gold tablets and the Derveni papyrus), on Greek imaginings of death and afterlife, and on the discourse of magic in the ancient world. My current research interests include the afterlife, the history of myth interpretation, and the marginal categories of magic and Orphism within Greek religion.
I love teaching in the atmosphere of Bryn Mawr: the small community of earnest and eager graduate and undergraduate students, the faculty's mix of disciplines and perspectives, the fantastic resources for research, not to mention the idyllic setting and beautiful traditions that surround us all. My research and teaching interests center on Greek social and intellectual history, with particular focus on mythology, religion, magic, and Platonic philosophy. I enjoy the opportunity to teach courses on some of the less familiar aspects of ancient Greek culture, such as ancient Greek ideas of sexuality, magic, and mystery cults, as well as courses on the language, mythology, and history of ancient Greece.
My current research interests include death and the afterlife in the Greek imagination, Plato and the history of myth interpretation, as well as the marginal categories of magic and Orphism within Greek religion. In addition to my work on Myths of the Underworld Journey, I have published a study entitled Redefining Ancient Orphism, in which I argue that it was not a coherent movement but a label given to a variety of religious practices that deliberately departed from the norm, elaborating on and altering traditional myths and rituals in innovative ways, while appealing to the authority of tradition by invoking the name of Orpheus, the greatest of poets. I have recently edited a volume of essays on Plato and the Power of Images, exploring the way Plato makes powerful use of various kinds of images, while at the same time mounting devastating critiques against the power of images. My most recent book, Drawing Down the Moon, is a study of the discourse of magic in the ancient Greco-Roman world, in which I survey the different things labeled as ‘magic’, from curses and erotic spells to healing and divination, including such esoteric practices as astrology, theurgy, and alchemy.
In addition to scholarship here, I have been enjoying directing the Greek Plays on May Day and singing with the Bryn Mawr Renaissance Choir.
- Drawing Down the Moon: Magic in the Ancient Greco-Roman World, Princeton University Press, 2019.
- Plato and the Power of Images, edited by Radcliffe Edmonds and Pierre Destrée, Brill, 2017.
- Redefining Ancient Orphism: A Study in Greek Religion, Cambridge University Press, 2013.
- The Orphic Gold Tablets and Greek Religion: Further Along the Path, Cambridge University Press, 2011.
- Myths of the Underworld Journey: Plato, Aristophanes, and the ‘Orphic’ Gold Tablets, Cambridge University Press, 2004.
- “Misleading and Unclear to the Many: Allegory in the Derveni Papyrus and the Orphic Theogony of Hieronymus”, in The Derveni Papyrus: Unearthing Ancient Mysteries, ed. Marco Antonio Santamaria, Brill (2019), pp. 77-99.
- “Deviant Origins: Hesiodic Theogony and the Orphica,” in Oxford Handbook of Hesiod, eds., A. Loney & S. Scully, Oxford University Press (2018), pp. 225-242.
- “Alcibiades the Profane: Images of the Mysteries in Plato’s Symposium,” Plato’s Symposium: A Critical Guide, ed. Pierre Destrée & Zina Giannopoulou, Cambridge University Press (2017), pp. 194-215.
- “When I walked the dark road of Hades: Orphic katabasis and the katabasis of Orpheus,” in Katábasis in Greek Literary Tradition and Religious Thought, ed. Bonnechere & Cursaru. Les Études Classiques 83 (2015), pp. 261-279.
- “Imagining the Afterlife in Greek Religion” in Oxford Handbook of Ancient Greek Religion, eds. Eidinow, Esther & Julia Kindt, Oxford University Press (2015), pp. 551-563.