Professor Isabel Ruffell
- Professor of Greek Drama and Culture (Classics)
My main research interests are in Greek drama and ancient science (especially mechanics), with interests also in Athenian politics, Roman Satire and gender and sexuality.
I have published extensively on Greek Comedy, Old and New, with particular emphasis on formal and political questions and the nature of audience response. I am interested in theoretical approaches to comedy, from ancient literary criticism to the latest cognitive science. My major monograph is Politics and Anti-Realism in Athenian Old Comedy: the Art of the Impossible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). I work closely with my colleague Costas Panayotakis in working on popular comedy in a way that bridges Greek and Roman, Classical and Modern. The international conference ‘Rethinking Popular Comedy, Ancient and Modern’ was held in Glasgow in August 2013.
I am also have research interests in Greek tragedy: my short monograph on Prometheus Bound was published in 2012 with Bloomsbury Academic. I am working on a series of articles on Greek tragedy, re-examining debates about the politics of the genre through the theory and practice of radical democracy. I am also interested in the interface between tragedy and history. Together with my colleague Lisa Hau, I am editing a collection of papers on Truth and History in the Ancient World: Pluralizing the Past for Routledge (2016), based on a panel at the 2012 Celtic Conference in Classics at Bordeaux.
My major research project is currently in the field of ancient mechanics. I have just completed a Leverhulme Major Research Grant on Hero of Alexandria and his Theatrical Automata, where I led a team that was reconstructing the automata described in Hero's treatise, re-investigating the text and writing the history of automata in antiquity [see Hero project website]. I am writing a monograph provisionally entiteled Constructing Ancient Automata.
2014-18 £282,881: Leverhulme Trust Reseearch Project Grant, Hero of Alexandria and his Theatrical Automata
2013 £335 Gilbert Murray Trust, £1080 Classical Association and £560 Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, for conference on popular comedy
2012 £500 Institute of Classical Studies, for conference on popular comedy
2004-5 £9009 AHRC Research Leave Scheme
I am particularly interested in supervising in the following areas:
- Greek drama (comedy and tragedy), including reception and translation
- Roman satire
- Greek technical writing
Outside these areas, I am open to proposals, particularly in Greek poetry and classical prose authors.
I am currently supervising PhD theses in the fields of ancient mechanics (edition and commentary of Hero's Automata), ancient medicine (medical commentary on Scribonius Largus), Greek tragedy (jealousy in Athenian tragedy) and ancient gender and sexuality (sexual violence in Athens).
I have previously supervised doctorates on the following topic:
- a translation and commentary on the first book of Aetius of Amida's De Simplicibus (Dr Eric Gowling)
- the construction of the Greek hoplite (seciond supervisor)
- monsters, monstrosity and masculinity (joint supervisor)
and masters theses by research on:
- the reception of Sophocles in the twentieth century
- Greek tragedy and postmodern constructions of gender
- he construction of ancient mechanics
- a study of Scribonius Largus
At Honours, I convene the following courses in translation:
- Ancient Technlogy in Context
- Interpreting Greek Tragedy
- Reasons to be Cheerful: Theorising Comedy with Aristophanes and Menander
- Putting the Gods in their Place: Low Culture and Mythological Burlesque )
and I offer the following courses in Greek (subject to demand):
- Greek Tragedy
- Greek Comedy
- Greek Prose Style
- Greek Unprepared Translation
I have also taught Greek Epic, Greek Lyric Poetry, and Latin Unprepared Translation and Prose Composition.
At pre-Honours, I convene Classical Civilisation 1A: Greece from Troy to Plataea (lecturing on Hesiod, Greek lyric poetry and aspects of Greek society) and beginners Greek (Greek 1A and 1B). I teach on Classical Civilisation 2A: the Civic Discourse of Classical Athens (lecturing on tragedy, comedy, Lysias and Plato) and occasionally lecture on Plautus for Classical Civilisation 1B: Republican Rome and on Juvenal for Classical Civilisation 2B: Imperial Rome.
I previously convened or taught on Greek 2A and 2B (advanced or post-beginners Greek). I have also taught on the parallel Latin courses.
I am also engaged in the translation of classical texts, particularly for the modern stage.
In 2016, I provided the literal translation for David Greig's version of Aeschylus' Suppliant Women for the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh and Actors Touring Company. The play, featuring a chorus of locally recruited performars in each case, has been performed in Belfast, Dublin, London, Manchester, Newcastle, and most recently Hong Kong.
In 2007, I provided the literal translation for the National Theatre of Scotland's production of the Bacchae, adapted by David Greig and directed by John Tiffany, which opened the 2007 Edinburgh International Festival (reviews from the Herald, Independent and Telegraph).