My research explores the Greco-Roman roots of Western ideas about the physical body, the natural world, matter, and the non-human. I also study the long afterlife of these ideas, especially in modern and postmodern thought. Working at the intersections of literature, the history of science and medicine, the history of philosophy, and critical theory, I am working to understand how materialist, scientific, and anti-humanist modes of inquiry inform concepts of subjectivity, community, and the cosmos in antiquity and how these concepts bear on the present. My areas of specialization encompass ancient medicine and life science, Greek tragedy, ancient philosophy, especially ethics and Epicureanism, reception studies, and critical theory.
I was trained in the United States and Europe as a comparatist and a classicist. I hold a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University. I also hold a D.E.A. in Études grecques from the Sorbonne (Paris-IV). I have taught since 2007 at Princeton, where I currently hold the Elias Boudinot Bicentennial Preceptorship and am a Behrman Faculty Fellow in the Council on the Humanities. I have been awarded fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Phi Beta Kappa, the Whiting Foundation, the Center for Human Values at Princeton, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the Fondation Hardt.
My first book, The Symptom and the Subject: The Emergence of the Physical Body in Ancient Greece, was published in 2010 by Princeton University Press. Beginning with Homer, moving through the Hippocratic medical texts, and closing with studies of early ethical philosophy and Euripides, I examine how the physical body came into being as a “conceptual object” in the fifth century BCE through medical interpretations of symptoms, thereby transforming the meaning of suffering, human nature, and subjectivity. In 2008, a volume of essays that I co-edited was published by Brill on the second-century CE orator Aelius Aristides. My second book, Gender: Antiquity and Its Legacy, a study of how the field of gender studies has been shaped through engagements with Greco-Roman antiquity, appeared in the series “Ancients and Moderns” (I. B. Tauris-Oxford University Press) in 2012. A second co-edited volume on the reception of Epicureanism from antiquity to the twentieth century also appeared in 2012 in the “Classical Presences” series at Oxford University Press. I have published widely on Greek literature, medicine, the history of the body, and ancient philosophy, including articles on Homer, Euripides, the Hippocratic Corpus, Galen, Lucretius, Aelius Aristides, and Gilles Deleuze.
I am currently at work on a study of the concept of physical sympathy in Hellenistic and Roman science, medicine, philosophy, and poetry. I argue that sympathy in this period takes shape as a way of conceptualizing communities between the human and the non-human world, laying the groundwork for an understanding of nature that will persist for centuries in the West. Another project on the reception of ancient science in twentieth-century French philosophy is also in the works. I continue to work on Greek literature, ancient medicine, and Epicureanism, with papers forthcoming or underway on Antigone in the Oedipus at Colonus, the concept of sympathy in Galen, the origins of social life in Lucretius, and Homer's Scamander.