Department Welcomes Prof. Ava Shirazi!

The Department of Classics joyfully welcomes its newest faculty member, Prof. Ava Shirazi. In the fall, she will be teaching a first-year writing seminar and an upper-level Greek seminar, Poetics and Poiesis: Philosophy, Performance, and the Crafts, as well as leading a Mellon group on “Zombie Philologies”.

Here’s Prof. Shirazi describing her path to Haverford and her current research:

“I was born in Tehran, Iran, and later immigrated to Canada where I received my BA at the University of Toronto in Classics and English. What drew me to both majors was the study of language, but what kept me in classics was the creativity necessary to interpret silence: how do you read languages no longer spoken? How do you recreate from ruins? How do you retell the stories of the vanished? 

During my graduate studies at Stanford, a diverse community of scholars and students taught me just how resourceful a classicist can be: I learned how to combine words with things, how to merge philosophy and literature with material culture, and how to use a variety of methodologies to recover and reevaluate the historic and contemporary significance of antiquity. Ever since, classics, for me, has become much bigger (and better!) than any great book itself: classics is about learning how to confront and embrace the complex and critical questions that arise when we encounter the past and their impact on our conception of modernity and the future. 

Before joining the Haverford faculty, I was a Perkins-Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow at the Princeton Society of Fellows (2017-2020). Both inside and outside of the academy, I have been active in theater (directing, producing, and stage managing various ancient and modern dramas) as well as writing for film.

I work primarily on Greek literature and cultural history and in particular on topics of visuality and aesthetics. The broader question underlying my research is how literature and literary studies can capture and revive the non-verbal moments and experiences of the ancient world (the sights, sounds, smells and overall material and affective experiences of the everyday). My holistic approach to antiquity is best reflected in my current book project, “The Mirror and the Senses: Reflection and Perception in Classical Greek Thought”. Working across a wide array of materials, from poetry, philosophy, and technical treatises, to actual bronze mirrors, painting and iconography, as well as practices of beautification and ritual, my book argues for an inextricable

link between the materiality of Greek mirrors and the transformative intellectual work on vision and sensation at the time. I have also published and prepared forthcoming work on Greek drama, philosophy, oratory and literary theory.”

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