Email: xavier dot buxton at warwick dot ac dot uk
Humanities Building, University Road
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL
After a BA in English Literature at Cambridge, I won a Henry Fellowship to Yale, researching the influence of Sappho on the American modernist Hilda Doolittle. 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 at Oxford. I joined Warwick as a Sessional Tutor in 2021.
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 have a co-edited volume forthcoming (Routledge, 2022) on the imagination in classical Athens. 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 classical 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.
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.
Teaching and supervision
I teach the following undergraduate modules:
- BA: University of Cambridge
- PGCE: University of Exeter
- MSt: University of Oxford
- DPhil: University of Oxford (in progress)