Helene P. Foley

Professor of Classics, Barnard College, Columbia University

Reimagining Greek Tragedy on the U.S. Stage

February 13:
Greek Tragedy finds an American Audience
2050 Valley Life Sciences Building

February 20:
Medea as American Other
2040 Valley Life Sciences Building

February 27:
Reinventing the Hero: American Oedipus
2040 Valley Life Sciences Building

March 5:
Democratizing Greek Tragedy
2040 Valley Life Sciences Building

March 12:
Splitting the Virginal Psyche: American Electra and her Sisters
2040 Valley Life Sciences Building

March 19:
Making Total Theater in America: Choreography and Music
60 Evans Hall

All lectures begin at 8:10 pm. The public is invited.

helene foley

More about Helene Foley and her Sather Lectures

The 94rd Sather Professor is Helene Foley, Professor of Classics at Barnard College, Columbia University. Educated at Swarthmore (B.A. 1964), Yale (M.A. 1967), and Harvard (Ph.D. 1975), she began her teaching career at Stanford University before moving to Barnard College in 1979, where she has been department chair since 1981 and a member of the graduate faculty in Classics at Columbia since 1984. Throughout her career she has been a leader in the study of women in antiquity and an expert in many aspects of Greek tragedy. Professor Foley is author of Ritual Irony: Poetry and Sacrifice in Euripides (1985), The Homeric Hymn to Demeter (1994), Female Acts in Greek Tragedy (2001), co-author of Women in the Classical World: Image and Text (1994), editor of and contributor to Reflections of Women in Antiquity (1981), and co-editor of and contributor to Visualizing the Tragic: Drama, Myth, and Ritual in Greek Art and Literature (2007).

Professor Foley's Sather Lectures grow out of her longstanding interest in the reception and performance of Greek tragedy. Her lecture series explores the ultimately successful struggle of Greek tragedy to find a place on an American stage. It shows how certain plays, especially Medea, Oedipus, and Electra, resonated repeatedly at different periods with specific U. S. concerns about slavery, race, the status of women, religion, identity, or immigration. Unlike Europe, however, the U.S. initially resisted directly confronting through the plays both political power and democracy. From the nineteenth century, Greek tragedy served as a fount of form and tradition in the American academy; on the professional stage it became in the twentieth century a vehicle for the most innovative developments in the history of U.S. theater and dance and for the heroic efforts of both well known and less familiar artists.

In addition to delivering her lecture series, Professor Foley is teaching a graduate seminar in Classics on aspects of the reception of Greek tragedy and participating in a symposium in connection with a performance of Euripides' Bacchae produced by the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies.