Sarah Olsen

Visiting Assistant Professor
Amherst College
Classics PhD Program
Research Interests: 
Greek literature and culture; dance, music, and performance; gender and sexuality
BA, Classics and Comparative Literature, Wellesley College (2008)
MA, Classics, UC Berkeley (2010)
Email: 
solsen [at] berkeley [dot] edu
Dissertation: 
Beyond Choreia: Dance in Ancient Greek Literature and Culture
Dissertation Advisor: 
Leslie Kurke (chair), Mark Griffith, Anastasia-Erasmia Peponi, SanSan Kwan, Alex Purves

My research is primarily on ancient Greek literature and culture, with a particular emphasis on issues of performance, gender, and corporeality.  

My dissertation, entitled "Beyond Choreia," brings together the surviving representations of solo and individualized dance and considers them as evidence for the cultural discourse surrounding both orchēsis (dance) and choreia (communal, multimedia song-dance).  It develops a theoretical framework for articulating the complex relationship between literary descriptions and historical performance, bringing the scholarly insights of dance studies to bear upon the ancient world.  My project demonstrates that orchēsis, as individual kinetic expression and kinesthetic experience, tends to signify social and political disruption, but at the same time, is also imagined as an expressive mode that may resist or re-figure the forces of language and verbal description.  

My research interests also include archaic and classical Greek art, imperial Greek literature, and early Greek social history.  My next major project focuses on the conceptualization of embodied memory in Greek culture as represented by literary sources. 

Select Publications: 

2015. “Conceptualizing Choreia on the François Vase: Theseus and the Athenian Youths.” Mètis: Anthropologie des mondes grecs anciens. (forthcoming Fall 2015)

2012. “Maculate Conception: Sexual Ideology and Creative Authority in Heliodorus’ Aethiopica.American Journal of Philology 133: 301-322.