MacArthur Fellows Program

Leslie V. Kurke

Classicist and Literary Scholar | Class of 1999

Classicist and Literary Scholar
Berkeley, California
40 at time of award
Published July 1, 1999

About Leslie's Work

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.

Last updated January 1, 2005

Select News Coverage of Leslie V. Kurke
More Fellows

View All 1999 Fellows

Stay Informed
Sign up for periodic news updates and event invitations.

Connect with us on social media or view all of our social media content in one place.

The privacy of your data is important to us. We've updated our privacy policies in response to General Data Protection Regulation.