539 Herter Hall
Melissa Mueller is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she has been teaching since 2007. After earning a BA from Barnard College, an MA from King’s College, Cambridge, and a PhD in Classics from the University of California, Berkeley, she taught briefly at UT Austin, Wesleyan University, and Wellesley College before moving to UMass. She writes mostly on archaic and classical Greek poetry and has particular research interests in the areas of new materialisms, reparative reading, and gender and sexuality studies. Much of her work has focused on how poetic texts engage the whole reader (mind, body, senses), creating meaning in performance or through the parameters of reading and reception they envision for themselves. Her first book, Objects as Actors, makes the case that far from being ancillary things, props are fully integrated into tragic performance; they are “actors” in their own right, prompting surprising turns of plot and unexpected reactions from viewers inside and outside the theatrical frame. Combining theater & performance studies with cultural poetics, this book charts a new way of looking at central tragic texts—and, indeed, at Greek theater as a whole.
Professor Mueller is co-editor of The Materialities of Greek Tragedy, and, with Lilah Grace Canevaro, is series editor of Ancient Cultures, New Materialisms. Her newest project is a book entitled Sappho and Homer: A Reparative Reading. Inspired in part by the work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick whose turn in the mid-1990s toward “reparative reading” sparked a new wave of queer feminist criticism, this book seeks to disentangle Sappho’s reception of Homer from the “paranoid” readerly dynamics of intertextuality, as traditionally practiced.
- Greek poetry and performance, especially tragedy, epic, and lyric
- Object theory; new materialisms; reparative reading
- The Materialities of Greek Tragedy: Objects and Affect in Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. Co-edited with Mario Telò. (Bloomsbury Press, 2018.)
- Objects as Actors: Props and the Poetics of Performance in Greek Tragedy (University of Chicago Press, 2016).
Articles & Book Chapters
- "Sappho and Sexuality." In The Cambridge Companion to Sappho, edited by P.J. Finglass and A. Kelly (forthcoming from Cambridge in 2021).
- "Hippolytus." In Brill’s Companion to Euripides, edited by A. Markantonatos (Brill 2020: 121-38).
- "Dreamscape and Dread in Euripides' Iphigenia among the Taurians." In Landscapes of Dread in Classical Antiquity, edited by D. Felton (Routledge 2018: 77-94).
- "Gender." In A Companion to Euripides, edited by L. K. McClure (Wiley-Blackwell 2017: 500-14).
- “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
- National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2021-22
- ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship at the National Humanities Center, 2019-20
- Fellow, Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, DC, 2009-10
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