Pauline LeVen

Pauline LeVen's picture
Associate Professor of Classics and (by courtesy) of Music
305 Phelps Hall

Born in Monaco and raised in France, Pauline LeVen studied at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris), the Sorbonne and Princeton University, and earned a joint PhD from both in 2008. She was a Fulbright student in 2001–02 and the Phi Beta Kappa Sibley Fellow in Greek Studies in 2007–08.

Her first book, The Many-Headed Muse: Tradition and Innovation in Late Classical Greek Lyric Poetry, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2014 and was a recipient of the Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Yale College Prize for outstanding publication. The book is a study of the extant corpus of Greek songs composed between about 440 BC and 320 BC. Combining close readings of little-studied texts with attention to their intellectual and cultural context, it examines Greek literary history between the classical and Hellenistic periods and explores the vibrancy of musical culture in the late classical period.

LeVen’s most recent book Music and Metamorphosis in Greco-Roman Literature (under contract with Cambridge University Press) examines Greek and Roman narratives devoted to the music of humans-turned-non-human-animals and natural phenomena (birds, winds, frogs, echoes, insects, marsh-reeds…). It argues that fantastic tales of animal metamorphosis are important loci of reflection on aesthetic and ontological questions. The seven readings it offers (including of Plato’s myth of the cicadas, of Ovid’s story of the origins of the echo, and of Achilles Tatius’ narrative of the nightingale myth) are windows onto a rich web of ideas about the beauty of music, appropriate responses to it, and the nature of the experience of sound and song.

LeVen is currently working on two projects. The first is a monograph entitled Posthuman Lyric, in which she investigates the kind of claims that archaic and classical lyric poetry make about non-human experiences of the world, and the challenges they present to Romantic views of lyric poetry as expression of the self. The second is a book co-edited with Sean Gurd – the first volume of the six-volume Cultural History of Western Music (Bloomsbury), devoted to Antiquity. The book is an important step in opening up the dialogue between Classics and musicology; it comprises eight essays by established and emerging scholars in the field, devoted to the topics of society, philosophies, popular culture, politics, education, exchange, performance, and technologies.


Greek Literature and Language


Greek Poetry, Ancient Literary Criticism, Musical Culture, Imperial literature, Posthumanities

Current courses 

Fall 2019: GREK 131 Introduction to Greek Prose; GREK 419/719 Helen After Troy

Spring 2020: GREK 443/743 The Iliad

Selected Recent Publications

  •  “Music, Melos, Emotions: A Philomela Manifesto” in P. Destrée and D. Creese (eds.) Beauties of Song (under contract with Oxford University Press)
  •  “Pan and the Music of Nature” in E. Rocconi and T. Lynch (eds.) Routledge Companion to Greek and Roman Music (under contract with Routledge)
  •  “New Music” in L. Swift (ed.) Routledge Companion to Greek Lyric (under contract with Routledge)
  •  “Doing Philosophy in the Elephant’s Mouth: Three Readings of Two Ekphrases in Achilles Tatius’ Leucippe and Clitophon IV.4” in E. Cueva et al. (eds.) 2018, Re-Wiring the Ancient Novel. Vol. 1: Greek Novels. Groningen, 109-126
  •  “The Erogenous Ear: Mythologies of Listening” in S. Butler and S. Nooter (eds.) 2018, Sound and the Senses. New York, 212-232
  •  “Echo’s Bones and the Metamorphoses of the Voice,” Greek and Roman Musical Studies 6.1 (2018): 14-25
  •  “The Invention of the Lyric Listener” in F. Budelmann and T. Philips (eds.) 2018, Textual Events: Performance and the Lyric in Early Greece. Oxford, 213-233
  •  “Metamorphosis and the Maiden: Posthuman Music in Ancient Greek Myths” in V. Ottomani and S. Wegner (eds.) 2017, Über den Ursprung von Musik Mythen – Legenden – Geschichtsschreibungen. Würzburg, 49-57

For more information:

Pauline LeVen cv