Professor Laura Swift
Subject: Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
Academic position: Tutorial Fellow
I first came to Magdalen as an undergraduate in Classics and stayed at the College for my MSt and DPhil. I worked in Oxford as a Junior Research Fellow (Trinity College) and as a Lecturer in Classics (New College), and subsequently held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at University College London. I then taught at the Open University for ten years, before returning to Magdalen.
I teach widely across Classical Literature at undergraduate level for the College and University. I welcome enquiries from prospective graduate students interested in working on Archaic or Classical Greek poetry.
My current research focuses on fragmentary texts and how we deal with them as scholars and readers. I have published the first complete commentary on the seventh-century BC poet Archilochus (2019), who in antiquity was considered one of the most important poets and rated second only to Homer. I have also written on other lyric authors including Sappho and Stesichorus, and have edited a companion to Greek lyric (2022).
In recent years I have been working with contemporary theatre-makers on their process and practice, and my research interests have incorporated the psychology of making creative work around the theme of fragmentation, how it acts as a creative stimulus, and how we can represent it artistically. A full production inspired by my collaboration with Potential Difference Theatre (https://www.potentialdifference.org.uk/) is planned for 2023.
My other major research interest is Greek tragedy. I am currently completing a jointly authored ‘green and yellow’ commentary on Euripides’ Bacchae for CUP. I am particularly interested in the relationship between the tragic chorus and other types of choral song performed in Greek society. My book The Hidden Chorus (2010) argued for the central importance of choral song as a cultural tool in Greek society, and suggested a reading of tragedy that placed as much weight on the musical contexts of fifth-century Athens as scholars have traditionally placed on historical or political ones. I have also published more broadly on tragedy, including an introduction to the genre (2016) and a book on Euripides’ Ion (2008), and I co-authored the OCR textbook on Greek theatre for A Level Classical Studies (2017).
Archilochus: The Poems. Oxford University Press, 2019.
Greek Theatre and Imperial Image: OCR Classical Civilisation AS and A Level Components 21 and 22. Co-authored with R. Hancock-Jones and J. Renshaw. Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.
Greek Tragedy: Themes and Contexts. Bloomsbury Academic, 2016.
The Hidden Chorus: Echoes of Genre in Tragic Lyric. Oxford University Press, 2010.
Euripides’ Ion. Bloomsbury Academic, 2008.
A Companion to Greek Lyric. Wiley-Blackwell, 2022.
Moralising Strategies in Early Greek Poetry. Jointly edited with W. Allan. Mouseion 15(1): University of Toronto Press, 2018.
Iambus and Elegy: New Approaches. Jointly edited with C. Carey. Oxford University Press, 2016.
And many articles and chapters on Archaic and Classical Greek literature.