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Professor David Fearn

Dr David Fearn

Professor of Greek

Deputy Head of Department, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Director of Education, Department Education Committee, Department Academic Conduct Panel, SSLC Co-ordinator, Faculty Education Committee, Exams Committee

Tel: 22006

Email: D.W.Fearn[at]

Room H230, Humanities Building, University Road,
University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL


I studied Classics at Magdalen College, Oxford, writing my doctoral thesis on the Greek choral lyric poet Bacchylides under the supervision of Peter Parsons and Peter Wilson. From 2003 I was elected to a joint Junior Research Fellowship at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (2003-5) and Corpus Christi College, Oxford (2005-7), and subsequently to a Mellon Career Development/Junior Research Fellowship at Jesus College/Faculty of Classics, Oxford (2007-8). I published my first book, a monograph on Bacchylides, in 2007, and joined the Warwick department in 2008.

Both in my teaching and in my research I investigate Greek literary texts in and beyond their original socio-political and cultural contexts, from archaic and classical Greek literature, culture, and politics, through to modern spaces of reception and refraction. I am also interested in contemporary inter-disciplinary critical-theoretical approaches to literature.

Research interests

I work on the poetics, aesthetics, and socio-political contextualizability of archaic and classical Greek literature, and of lyric poetry in particular. That is, I investigate the stakes of thinking about, and the possibilities of moving beyond thinking about, Greek literature as a function of its original contexts of production and reception in antiquity. I find ongoing nourishment from thinking with the poetry of Pindar in particular.

My first book, Bacchylides: Politics, Performance, Poetic Tradition, sought to rehabilitate the reputation of this underappreciated poet by situating his work in the ethnic, political, and cultural milieu of early classical Greece; I also edited a collection of essays discussing the interrelation between poetry and culture on the Greek island of Aegina in the 5th century BC: Aegina: Contexts for Choral Lyric Poetry. Myth, History, and Identity in the Fifth Century BC.

My latest full-scale monograph, Pindar's Eyes: Visual and Material Culture in Epinician Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2017), seeks to reorient debate about art and text, and the relation between lyric form and lyric contextualization, within Pindaric poetics. Other articles investigating the world-creating powers of Greek lyric poetry have also recently appeared (on Alcaeus; and Anacreon and Stesichorus), as has a book-length survey of trends in the history of modern scholarship on Greek lyric, inaugurating Brill's new Research Perspectives in Classical Poetry series: Greek Lyric of the Archaic and Clasical Periods.

A new project is beginning to take shape, investigating the relation between rhetorical and lyric form and content in Gorgias' Encomium of Helen, along with related theoretical questions concerning (a)temporality and untimeliness, rhetorical situatedness, voice, literary and rhetorical exemplarity, and the limits of prose.

I also have an interest in the history, theory, and practice of photography, which is slowly finding its way into my published work and is also shaping up as another locus for comparativist and critical-theoretical research directions - including for instance the investigation of what happens if we juxtapose the landscapes of ancient lyric with the responses to space and place in contemporary landscape photography and environmental art.

Other areas of interest include classical Greek historiography; broader trends in the development of the relation between ancient Greek poetry and thought within ongoing debates about the nature and conceptualization of Classical reception and 'the Classical'; and the cultural history of modern papyrological discoveries of Greek literature.

In May 2018 I hosted an international network of scholars of Greek poetry and poetics, with a cross-disciplinary workshop, Heidegger's Greece, investigating new ways of interconnecting study of ancient Greek poetry and poetics with developments in continental philosophy and critical theory. In October 2019 I acted as a public respondent to the philosopher Simon Critchley, discussing his work on tragedy at the inauguration of Warwick Philosophy's new Centre for Research in Post-Kantian European Philosophy. In 2020 I hosted an international online symposium, Classics in Relation, investigating the status of the relation between classical philology / literary criticism and emerging comparativist trends in classical reception and the humanities more generally.

Teaching and supervision



  • Taught MA in Ancient Literature and Thought (Approaching Ancient Texts core module; Greek Literature and Thought optional core module; Advanced Ancient Language; Language Dossier)
  • Taught MA in Ancient Visual and Material Culture (Ancient Visual & Material Culture, and its Reception; Advanced Ancient Language)
  • MA by research
  • PhD

I am eager to supervise postgraduate students who wish to study topics related to Greek literature (especially archaic and classical) across all genres, including the interactions between Greek literary texts and their aesthetic and/or socio-political environments; critical-theoretical approaches to Greek literature; and comparativist approaches to Greek literature, broadly considered.

Current PhD supervision:

Pindar's Corinth (co-tutelle with SNS Pisa)

Presocratic and Literary Meteorology (with Dr Emmanuela Bakola)

Administrative roles

  • Deputy Head of Department, 2018– (HoD autumn 2019)
  • Departmental Director of Education, 2018–
  • Member of Arts Faculty Education Committee, 2018–
  • Member of University Examinations Committee, 2021–

Selected publications

  • Greek Lyric of the Archaic and Classical Periods: From The Past to the Future of the Lyric Subject. Brill Research Perspectives in Classical Poetry (RPCP) 1.1 (Brill, 2020)
  • 'The allure of narrative in Greek lyric poetry’ in Jonas Grethlein, Luuk Huitink and Aldo Tagliabue (eds.) Experience, Narrative, and Criticism in Ancient Greece: Under the Spell of Stories (Oxford University Press, 2019) 36–58
  • ‘Materialities of political commitment? Textual events, material culture, and metaliterarity in Alcaeus’ in F. Budelmann and T. Phillips (eds.) Textual Events: Performance and the Lyric in Early Greece (Oxford University Press, 2018) 93–113
  • Pindar's Eyes: Visual and Material Culture in Epinician Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2017)
  • 'Kleos v stone? Lyric poetry and contexts for memorialization', in P. Liddel and P. Low (eds.) Inscriptions and their Uses in Greek and Latin Literature (Oxford 2013) 231–53
  • 'The Keians and their choral lyric: Athenian, epichoric, and panhellenic perspectives’, in L. Athanassaki and E. L. Bowie (eds.) Archaic and Classical Choral Song: Performance, Politics & Dissemination (Berlin 2011) 207–34
  • (ed.) Aegina: Contexts for Choral Lyric Poetry. Myth, History, and Identity in the Fifth Century BC (Oxford University Press, 2010)
    reviewed in: Religious Studies Review 38.1 (2012) 15 (Jenny Strauss Clay); Greece & Rome 58.2 (2011) 242–3 (Malcolm Heath)
  • 'Aeginetan epinician culture: naming, ritual, and politics', in Fearn (ed.) Aegina: Contexts for Choral Lyric Poetry, 175–226
  • 'Imperialist fragmentation and the discovery of Bacchylides', in M. Bradley (ed.) Classics and Imperialism in the British Empire (Oxford 2010) 158–85
  • 'Oligarchic Hestia: Bacchylides 14B and Pindar, Nemean 11', Journal of Hellenic Studies 129 (2009) 23–38
  • Bacchylides: Politics, Performance, Poetic Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2007)
    reviewed in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2008.11.14 (Giambattista D'Alessio); Journal of Hellenic Studies 129 (2009) 141–2 (Douglas Cairns); Hermathena 187 (2009) 107-9 (Douglas Gerber)
  • 'Herodotos 5.17–22. Narrating ambiguity: murder and Macedonian allegiance', in E. Irwin and E. Greenwood (eds.) Reading Herodotus: A Study of the logoi in Book 5 of Herodotus' Histories (Cambridge 2007) 98–127
  • 'Mapping Phleious: politics and myth-making in Bacchylides 9', Classical Quarterly 53.2 (2003) 347–67

Professional associations and responsibilities


  • BA/MA, MSt, DPhil (Oxford)
  • PCAPP (Warwick)

Drop-In Hours for students

Term 1 2021-22

Tuesdays 4-5pm (though 3-4pm in week 5)
Thursdays 10-11am

These can be either face-to-face in my office (Humanities H230), or online via MSTeams (please specify!)

Other times: please email for an appointment if you would like one.


Undergraduate modules

Greek Culture and Society (Module Contributor)
The Politics of Archaic and Classical Greek Literature: New Mythologies of the Social (Module Convenor)
Songs, Texts, Theories: Greek Lyric Poetry (Module Convenor)
Greek Literary Texts (Module Convenor)
Hellenistic World (Contributor)
Dissertations (Supervisor; Module Convenor 2021-22)

Postgraduate taught modules

Taught MA in Ancient Literature and Thought:

Approaching Ancient Texts: Methodologies, Theories and Practice (Co-convenor)

Greek Literature and Thought (Convenor)

Advanced Ancient Language (Co-convenor)

Connect Twitter

Fearn, Greek Lyric of the Archaic and Classical Periods (Brill, 2020)

Pindar's Eyes

Aegina vol

Bacchylides monograph