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Dr David Fearn

Dr David Fearn

Reader in Greek Literature

Head of Department (Autumn Term 2019), Deputy Head of Department (Spring Term 2020), Director of Education, Department Education Committee, Academic Convenor of undergraduate SSLC (Spring Term 2020). On leave Summer Term 2020.

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 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). 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 and cultural contexts, from archaic and classical Greek literature, culture, and politics, through to modern contexts of reception and refraction. He is also interested in political and cultural contexts for the reception of Classical texts in the modern world, and contemporary inter-disciplinary 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. He also has a burgeoning interest in the history of photography, which is slowly finding its way into his published work.

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

  • Deputy Head of Department, 2018-19
  • Departmental Director of Education, 2018–19
  • Member of Arts Education Committee, 2018-19
  • Committee Member of the Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature, and the Arts
  • Member of University Course Proposal Scrutiny Panel, 2018–19
  • Member of Arts Faculty Appeals Committee Panel, 2018-19

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; Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists
  • Peer reviewer of academic monographs 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)


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

Office hours

Term 1 2019–20
Week 1: Wednesday 11–12; Thursday 3-4
Week 2: Tuesday 11–12; Thursday 3–4
Week 3: Tuesday 11–12; Thursday 3–4
Week 4: Tuesday 2–3; Wednesday 11–12
Week 5: Tuesday 11–12; Thursday 3–4
Week 6: Reading Week – though please email if you need a meeting

Week 7: Tuesday 11–12; Thursday 3–4
Week 8: Tuesday 11–12; Tuesday 1–2
Week 9: Tuesday 1–2; Wednesday 11–12
Week 10: Tuesday 11–12; Tuesday 1–2


Undergraduate modules

Greek Culture and Society (Module Contributor)
Politics and Poetics in Greek and Latin Literature (Module Convenor)
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

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