Leslie Kurke is an interdisciplinary scholar of classical Greek antiquity and an expert in archaic Greek poetry.
She is at the forefront of cultural poetics, a relatively new subdiscipline of classical studies that combines the methods of philology, new historicism, and cultural anthropology, and integrates the evidence of literary sources and material culture. In her first book, The Traffic in Praise (1991), she interprets Pindar’s poetry within the socio-economic context of ancient Greece, illuminating the connections among poems, the role of the poet in society, and the role of the aristocracy in the early-fifth century. Kurke’s book, Coins, Bodies, Games, and Gold: The Politics of Meaning in Archaic Greece (1999) continues her analyses of the socioeconomic and ideological foundations of ancient Greek poetry. In this work, she demonstrates that the Greeks’ use of precious metals and money reveals much about their concepts of status, identity, and values. She is also the co-editor of Cultural Poetics in Archaic Greece: Cult, Performance, Politics (1998) and The Cultures within Ancient Greek Culture: Contact, Conflict, Collaboration (2003).
Kurke is a professor of classics and comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has taught since 1990.
Kurke received a B.A. (1981) from Bryn Mawr College and a Ph.D. (1988) from Princeton University.