Sarah Nooter

sarah nooter
Professor in the Department of Classics
Wieboldt 115
Ph.D, Columbia University, 2008

I write about Greek drama and modern reception and about poetry, the voice, embodiment, and performance. The core of my interest is the tightly wound formations of verse. My research spreads outward from there to language, genre, and tradition. My first book is When Heroes Sing: Sophocles and the Shifting Soundscape of Tragedy (Cambridge University Press, 2012; pb 2016). Here I explore the lyrically powerful voices of Sophocles’ heroes, arguing that their characterization is built from the poetical material of lyric genres and that this poeticity (as I call it) lends a unique blend of power and impotence to Sophoclean heroes that places them in the mold of archaic poets as they were imagined in Classical Greece. My second book, The Mortal Voice in the Tragedies of Aeschylus (Cambridge University Press, 2017), is on voice in Aeschylus and Greek poetry and thought more generally. I look at how voice was conceptualized in philosophy, epic, epinician and dramatic poetry before focusing on Aeschylean tragedy as a nexus of poetic sound and embodied materiality. I argue that the playwright uses voice in his plays as both a metaphor for presence and an agent of action. After a look at how voice was imagined in Greek thought in chapter 1 and a discussion of Aeschylean drama in light of Aristophanes’ Frogs in chapter 2, I turn to the Oresteia and read it closely in terms of voice over three chapters.

I am now working on a book called Bodies in Time: The Substance of Greek Poetry. This text will consist of a series of essays on Greek poems of the archaic and classical period, as well as on poems in English from the modern and contemporary period, all understood as attempts at embodiment. I argue that certain ancient Greek and modern Anglophone poets have found varying ways to counter the deleterious effects of time by inscribing poetry within the physical and corporeal world. This project looks at forms of composition, performance, and also transmission, suggesting that rhythm, mimesis, and metaphor are to be understood in the same frame as papyrus finds, inscriptions on stone, and scribbles on paper. I also am working on an ongoing project on African drama, in which I juxtapose the production and performance of ancient Greek plays with twentieth-century theatrical productions staged in three areas of Africa—Egypt, South Africa, and several countries in West Africa. This project is a discussion of theater as a series of creative processes: claiming and creating a theatrical tradition, producing a play, defining dramatic genres, and using plays to create public space and socially significant events. I suggest that by comparing creative procedures of composing and staging, we might come to understand the Greek plays more incisively in their own context.

Finally, I’ve co-edited a book called Sound and the Ancient Senses with Shane Butler (Routledge, 2019). It is Volume 6 in The Senses in Antiquity series. I am also Editor-in-Chief of Classical Philology, a member of the Program in Poetry and Poetics, and a faculty adviser to the Court Theatre, and the coordinator of the Poetry and the Human sequence in the Humanities Core.