Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster: Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration

Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Minchin


Porträt Elizabeth Minchin

I completed my first degree at the University of Sydney (in Latin, French and Bahasa Indonesia); I completed my MA and PhD at The Australian National University in Canberra (in Ancient Greek literature). My research field is Homeric studies.

I now teach Ancient Greek and Latin language and literature at the ANU.

I edit the journal of the Australasian Society for Classical Studies, Antichthon. I am a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

Research Concentrations

My interest in the Homeric epics arises out of the new evidence that came to light in C20 indicating that these long poems were composed in performance. That is, they are part of an oral tradition. My research has focused on the ways in which this oral poet (whom we call Homer) used the resources of his memory (episodic memory, visual memory, auditory memory, spatial memory) to assist him in the composition and performance of his songs. The poems themselves have been the sources of information.

I have also drawn conclusions about what the poet himself knew of the workings of memory.  I subsequently turned my attention to the words spoken by characters within the epics, considering them not only as products of 'genres' stored in memory, but also for what they can tell us about status and power and gender in this Homeric society. I have completed papers on the poet's memory for character templates, on the words of gods (as opposed to those of mortals), and on the nature of sarcastic talk in the Iliad.

My research has generally drawn on work in cognitive psychology, discourse analysis, and conversation analysis.

My current projects are branching off into less empirical areas of memory studies: social memory, cultural memory.

Position within the Center

Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study Konstanz (August–November 2012)

Project „Gallipoli and the Dardanelles: Myth and Memory in a Landscape“

Selected Publications


1. Homer and the Resources of Memory: Some Applications of Cognitive Theory to the Iliad and the Odyssey. Oxford University Press, 2001. 247pp.

2. Homeric Voices: Discourse, Memory, Gender. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. 310pp.

Edited Book

1. Orality, Literacy, Performance in the Ancient World (Orality and Literacy in the Ancient World, vol. 9). Leiden: Brill, 2012.

Book Chapters (in refereed publications): since 2005

1. "Homer on Autobiographical Memory: The Case of Nestor". In R. Rabel (ed.), Approaches to     Homer: Ancient and Modern, Swansea. Classical Press of Wales (2005) 55-72.

2. "The Language of Heroes and the Language of Heroines: Storytelling in Oral Traditional Epic". In C. Cooper (ed.), Politics of Orality. Mnemosyne Supplementa. Brill (2006) 3-38. (A)

3. "Spatial memory and the composition of the Iliad". E. A. Mackay [ed.], Spatial Memory and the composition of the Iliad". E. A. Mackay [ed.], Orality, Literacy, Memory in the Ancient     Greek and Roman World, Mnemosyne Supplementa. Brill (2008) 9-34. (A)

4. "The Words of Gods: Divine Discourse in Homer's Iliad".  A.P.M.H. Lardinois, J.H. Blok and     M.G.M. van der Poel (eds), Sacred Words: Orality, Literacy and Religion. Orality and Literacy in the Ancient World, vol. 8. Mnemosyne Supplementa. Brill (2011) 17-35.

5. 'Nestor' (1000 words); 'Andromache' (1000 words); 'Speech Act Theory'  (1000 words); 'Catalogues' (1000 words); 'Ring-composition' (750 words); 'Memory' (500 words); 'Speech Introductions'  (500 words); 'Arming Scenes'  (500 words), in M. Finkelberg (ed.), Homer Encyclopedia, 3 vols. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011).

6. 'Memory and Memories: Personal, Social, and Cultural Memory in the Poems of Homer'. A.     Rengakos and C. Tsagalis (eds), Homeric Contexts: Neoanalysis and Oral Theory. Walter de Gruyter (2012) 83-99.

7. 'Introduction'. E. Minchin (ed.), Orality, Literacy, Performance in the Ancient World (Orality and Literacy in the Ancient World, vol. 9) Leiden: Brill (2012) XI-XVIII.

Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals: since 2005

1. "Men's Talk and Women's Talk in Homer: Rebukes and Reproaches". Mediterranean Archaeology 19/20 (2006/2007) 213-224. (A)

2. " Can One Ever Forget? Homer on the Persistence of Painful Memories". Scholia 15 (2006) 2-16. (B)

3. "Communication without Words: Body Language, 'Pictureability', and Memorability in the Iliad'. Ordia Prima 7 (2008) 21-42 (B)

4. "The Expression of Sarcasm in the Odyssey". Mnemosyne 63 (2010) 533-556. (A)

5. "From Gentle Teasing to Heavy Sarcasm: Instances of Rhetorical Irony in Homer's Iliad". Hermes 138.4 (2010) 387-402 (A)

6. "'Themes' and 'Mental Moulds': Roger Schank, Malcolm Willcock, and the Creation of Character in Homer", Classical Quarterly 61.2 (2011) 323-343 (A*)

7. "Commemoration and Pilgrimage in the Ancient World: Troy and the Stratigraphy of Cultural Memory", Greece and Rome 59.1 (2012)  76-89 (A)