Mario Telò


In my scholarship, I seek to place antiquity in dialogue with modernity, defamiliarizing and destabilizing widely accepted critical positions by exploring the emancipatory potential of textual and visual form. Aristophanes and the Cloak of Comedy: Affect, Aesthetics, and the Canon (University of Chicago Press, 2016) theorizes the nexus between canonicity and sensory—especially haptic—materiality. The edited volume The Materiality of Greek Tragedy (Bloomsbury, 2018) tests the advantages and limits of the so-called new materialisms in the interpretation of drama. On the threshold between critique and post-critique, my monograph, Archive Feelings: A Theory of Greek Tragedy (Ohio State University Press, “Classical Memories/Modern Identities,” 2020), examines how contemporary theorizations of the archive (especially Derrida’s Mal d’Archive) and the death drive (in Freud as well as Bersani, Butler, Edelman, Deleuze, Lacan, Rancière, and Žižek) can help us understand the aesthetic experience of tragedy. Through an engagement with the texts of ancient plays, art (Francis Bacon, Cy Twombly), architecture (Daniel Libeskind), and film, I locate Greek tragedy’s aesthetic allure beyond catharsis in a vertiginous sense of giddy suspension, in a spiral of life-death that resists equilibrium, stabilization, and all forms of normativity.

Watch the Townsend book chat that took place on December 9, 2020 and hear this podcast on the New Books Network.

In March 2022, there was a Syndicate symposium on the book, with responses by Karen Bassi, Sean Gurd, Paul Kotman, Helen Morales, and Daniel Orrells.

I have finished a new book on comedy and political theory entitled Resistant Form: Aristophanes and the Comedy of Crisis (Tangent, Punctum Books), which is centered around theoretically engaged readings of Birds, Frogs, Lysistrata and Women at the Thesmophoria as well as the comic style of critical theory. You can hear a discussion of the book with Sean Gurd on TangentCast.

A new book entitled The Thing about the Title: Roman Comedy against the Subject is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.

I am now finishing another book on tragedy entitled Greek Tragedy in a Global Crisis: Reading through Pandemic Times (forthcoming in 2023 with Bloomsbury). With Sean Gurd, I am co-editing The Before and the After: Critical Asynchrony Now.

With Sarah Olsen, I edited Queer EuripidesA Re-Reading (18 Plays, 20 Readers) (Bloomsbury 2022). Listen to a podcast on the book.

With Sarah Nooter another volume entitled Radical Formalism: Reinventing the Literary in Antiquity and Beyond. 

With Andrew Benjamin I am also co-editing a volume on Niobes entitled Niobe’s: Antiquity Modernity Critical Theory (under contract with OSU press)

With Damon Young and Debarati Sanyal, I edited a special issue of Representations entitled Proximities: Reading with Judith ButlerA book entitled Judith Butler and the Ethics of Greek Tragedy is under contract with Bloomsbury for the series Classical Receptions in Twentieth-Century Writing.

I am the chief editor of the journal Classical Antiquity. I also serve on the editorial board of Representations.

I also write about classics, American literature, and critical theory for “La Domenica del Sole 24 Ore”.

Recent Articles:

"Medea in the Courtroom: Foucault, Alice Diop, and Abolition." Forthcoming in Arethusa

"The Problem with Theory: Classics Critique Postcritique." Forthcoming in Multidisciplinary Theory, edited by Jeffrey Di Leo

"Queer Philology and Luis Alfaro's Oedipus El Rey." Forthcoming in CP (Classical Philology)

"Dystopic Cyberpunk and Heraclitus's River." In Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk 

"Heraclean Overhaul(s): Par-a-noia, Badiou's Un-thought, and Neurodiversity in Anne Carson's H of H." Forthcoming in Classical Antiquity

"Chal Chal Chal: Apollonius's Talos Tales (and Medea's). In Radical Formalisms: Reading, Theory, and the Boundaries of the Classical, Bloomsbury

"Ancientmodern Objects: Viewing Freud's Oedipus Complex." In Freud's Antiquity: Object, Idea, Desire, edited by R. Armstrong, M. Leonard, D. Orrells, Publications of the Freud's Museum, London

"Iphigenia's Stigmatologies," in Shorter and spalding's Iphigenia: Interdisciplinary Readings, edited by H. Morales and M. Telò, Ramus

"Judith Butler's Eurydice," in Proximities: Reading with Judith Butler, edited by D. Sanyal, M. Telo', and D. Young, Representations

"Queer Interspeciesism, or Oppian's Wild Loves," forthcoming in The Routledge Handbook of Classics and Queer Theory, edited by Sara Lindheim, Kirk Ormand, and Ella Haselswerdt

"Foucault and Oedipal Virality," forthcoming in Symplokê 

"Derrida, Blanchot, and the Gimmick: Writing Disaster in Euripides' Bacchae in S. Gurd and M. Telò, The Before and the After: Critical Asynchrony Now (Tangents, Punctum Books)

"Tragic Cryo-Ecology, or Niobe's Glacial Aesthetics," in A. Benjamin and M. Telò, Niobes: Antiquity Modernity Critical Theory (OSU Press, series "Ancient Memories, Modern Identities")

Research interests: 

Greek literature, Ancient Drama and its Reception, Critical Theory (psychoanalysis, queer theory, political theory, posthumanism, and new formalisms)



7310 Dwinelle Hall Wednesday 2-5