The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Melissa Mueller

Associate Professor

(413) 545-5776

539 Herter Hall

Melissa Mueller joined the Department of Classics at UMass in 2007. She has a BA in Classics from Barnard College, an MA from King’s College, Cambridge, and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on Greek epic, lyric, and tragedy, with special attention to how Greek literary texts, envisioning certain performance parameters for themselves, engage with their material environments. Her recent book, Objects as Actors (University of Chicago Press, 2016), argues that far from being inanimate, ancillary “things,” props are fully integrated into tragic performance, agents that spark surprising plot turns and unexpected reactions from viewers inside and outside the theatrical frame. Combining theater studies with cultural poetics, this book proposes that props provide the key to a new way of looking at central tragic texts—and, indeed, at Greek theater as a whole. Along with Lilah Grace Canevaro, Melissa is series editor of Ancient Cultures, New Materialisms Her newest project is a book provisionally titled  “Sappho and Homer: A Reparative Reading.”

Research Areas

  • Greek poetry and performance, especially tragedy, epic, and lyric
  • Object theory; new materialisms; reparative reading



Articles & Book Chapters

  • "Hippolytus." In Brill’s Companion to Euripides, edited by A. Markantonatos, forthcoming.
  • "Dreamscape and Dread in Euripides' Iphigenia among the Taurians."  ILandscapes of Dread in Classical Antiquity, edited by D. Felton (Routledge, to appear 2018).
  • "Gender." In A Companion to Euripides, edited by L. K. McClure (Wiley-Blackwell 2017, 500-514).
  • Dressing for Dionysus: Statues and Material Mimesis in Euripides’ Bacchae.” In Gli oggetti sulla scena teatrale ateniese: Funzione, rappresentazione, comunicazione. Edited by A. Coppola, C. Barone, and M. Salvadori (CLEUP, Padua 2016, 57-70).
  • "Recognition and the Forgotten Senses in the Odyssey,"  Helios 43.1 (2016): 1-20.
  • "The Disease of Mortality in Hesiod’s Theogony: Prometheus, Herakles, and the Invention of Kleos," Ramus 45.1 (2016): 1-17.
  • "Re-Centering Epic Nostos: Gender and Genre in Sappho’s Brothers Poem," Arethusa 49 (2016): 25-46.

Awards and Accolades

  • Fellow, Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, DC, 2009-10.
  • ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship at the National Humanities Center, 2019-20


Courses Recently Taught

  • Greek 460: Euripides
  • Greek 465: Sophocles
  • Classics 100H: Greek Civilization
  • Classics 200: Golden Age of Greece
  • Classics 261: Greek Voices
  • Classics 365: The World of Greek Drama