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Dr David Fearn

Dr David Fearn

Reader in Greek Literature

Deputy Head of Department
Director of Education
Staff Convenor, Undergraduate SSLC

Tel: 22006

Email: D.W.Fearn[at]

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


David studied Classics at Magdalen College, Oxford, writing his doctoral thesis on the Greek choral lyric poet Bacchylides under the supervision of Peter Parsons and Peter Wilson. From 2003 he was elected to Junior Research Fellowships at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and Jesus College, Oxford. David published his first book, a monograph on Bacchylides, in 2007, and joined the Warwick department in 2008.

Both in his teaching and in his research David investigates the interpretability of the relation between Greek literary texts and their socio-political contexts of production and reception – from archaic Greece and the Homeric poems through to Alexandrian poetry in Hellenistic Egypt, via Classical Greek literature and politics. He is also interested in political contexts for the reception of Classical texts in the modern world, and contemporary critical-theoretical approaches to literature.

Research interests

David works on the poetics, aesthetics, and socio-political contextualizability of archaic and classical Greek literature, and of lyric poetry in particular. His 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; he has 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.

David's latest book, 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 will also appear soon (on Alcaeus; and Anacreon and Stesichorus). 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, voice, literary exemplarity, and the limits of prose.

Other areas of interest include classical Greek historiography (see 'Classical Texting' blogpost here); 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 cultural history of modern papyrological discoveries of Greek literature.

In May 2018 David 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.

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

David is 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 topics in Greek cultural, political, and intellectual history.

Current PhD supervision:

The inscribed body in archaic Greek sculpture (with Dr Michael Scott)

Metals in Greek Literature (with Dr Emmanuela Bakola)

Administrative roles

  • Departmental Senior Tutor, spring/summer 2018
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, spring/summer 2018
  • Member of Arts Faculty Board, spring/summer 2018
  • Member of Warwick Student Experience Network
  • Committee Member of the Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature, and the Arts
  • Member of University Course Proposal Scrutiny Panel, 2017–18

Selected publications

  • Pindar's Eyes: Visual and Material Culture in Epinician Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2017)
  • (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)
  • 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)
  • 'Athens and the empire: the contextual flexibility of dithyramb, and its imperialist ramifications', in B. Kowalzig and P. Wilson (eds.) Dithyramb in Context (Oxford 2013) 133–52
  • '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
  • '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
  • '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

  • Active member of the Network for the Study of Archaic and Classical Greek Song
  • Referee for Journal of Hellenic Studies; Classical Quarterly; Classical Philology; American Journal of Philology; Mnemosyne; Transactions of the American Philological Association; Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies; Phoenix; International Journal of the Classical Tradition
  • Peer reviewer for Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Oxford University Press (New York)
  • External Examiner for the University of Exeter (Undergraduate Degrees involving Classical Languages and Literature)


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

Office hours

Term 1 2018-19:

Wednesdays 11-12 (not week 3)
Fridays 11-12 (not week 5)

Other times: please email for appointment


Undergraduate modules

Greek Culture and Society (Module Contributor)
Songs, Texts, Theories: Greek Lyric Poetry (Module Convenor)
Hellenistic World (Contributor)
Dissertations (Supervisor)

Postgraduate taught degrees

Taught MA in Ancient Literature and Thought
Taught MA in Ancient Visual and Material Culture