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Dr Xavier Buxton

Xavier Buxton

Honorary Research Fellow


Office 2.11
Faculty of Arts Building
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL


After a BA in English Literature at Cambridge, I won a Henry Fellowship to Yale. I then trained as a schoolteacher with Teach First in Bournemouth, and worked for a human rights organisation in London, before returning to academia for a MSt and DPhil in Classics at Oxford. I joined Warwick as a Sessional Tutor in 2021, became a Teaching Fellow in 2022, and an Honorary Research Fellow in 2023. I am also Early Career Research Associate at the ICS in London.

    Research interests

    Broadly speaking, I am interested in the cultures and societies of archaic and classical Greece, as well as their reception in modern and contemporary worlds.

    My doctoral thesis, ‘Aeschylean Tragedy and the Cultivation of Fear in Classical Athens’, combines literary criticism and intellectual history to excavate the emotional landscape of the ancient city. I show that for Aeschylus, as for his classical contemporaries, ‘there is a place where fear is good’ (Eum. 517); and it is the work of culture – including philosophy, historiography, religion, as well as tragedy – to guide and educate our fears for the benefit of the polis. This vision of fear as a healthy and educable passion accords with some recent philosophical, sociological, and neuroscientific accounts of emotional cognition. It also has implications for contemporary politics, and particularly the communication of the climate crisis. I am developing the thesis, in discussion with OUP, for potential publication in late 2024.

    Meanwhile, I have this summer published a co-edited volume on The Imagination of the Mind in Classical Athens: Forms of Thought (Routledge, 2023). New work in cognitive science, philosophy, and material history has disrupted the hoary oppositions of mind and body, subject and object, human and non-human: this book applies these insights and provocations to the cultural forms of fifth- and fourth-century Athens, from epigraphy and painted pots to choral lyric. My own chapter, ‘Aeschylus’ Suppliants and the Theatre of "Deep Thought"’ investigates the relationship between the tragic mind and its dramatic articulation through dialogue, embodiment, and metaphor.

    I have other projects underway. I have been invited to contribute, to a Greek volume on collective emotions in ancient drama, a chapter on choral panic: responding to some recent emotional historiography, I probe how far the expression of panic in tragedy, comedy, and satyr drama may be shaped by both genre and context. I am also involved in a collaborative project on the experience of ancient festivals, led by Professor Eric Csapo. After holding a conference at Warwick in 2022, we have submitted a proposal for a edited volume, to which I will contribute a chapter on the Eleusinian mysteries.

    Ever since I was an undergraduate, I have been fascinated by reception, and especially translation. I have published an article on Shelley’s refraction of Sappho’s voice in his poem ‘To Constantia, Singing’ (‘Sappho and Shelley: Lyric in the Dative’, Cambridge Quarterly 40.4 (2011)). At Oxford, I convened for four years a ‘Lyric Translation Group’, at which participants would share their versions (in any form or medium) of an ancient Greek poem; at Warwick, I am helping to organise the Ancient Drama Festival.


    • BA: University of Cambridge
    • PGCE: University of Exeter
    • MSt: University of Oxford
    • DPhil: University of Oxford

    Drop-in Hours

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    Drop-in Hours

    Please email me to make an appointment.