Alex Purves

A photo of Alex Purves
E-mail: Phone: 310-825-8873 Office: Dodd Hall 226B

Alex Purves is Professor and Chair in the Classics Department at UCLA. She joined the UCLA faculty in 2002 after completing her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and her BA and MA degrees at the University of Nottingham (UK). Her research focuses on Greek literature, primarily from the archaic and classical periods. Her first book was on space and landscape in the early Greek epic and prose tradition, Space and Time in Ancient Greek Narrative (Cambridge University Press, 2010). More recently, she has written on embodiment and repetition in Greek epic Homer and the Poetics of Gesture  (Oxford University Press, 2019) and published two edited volumes on the senses (Synaesthesia and the Ancient Senses, with Shane Butler, [Acumen/Routledge, 2013], and Touch and the Ancient Senses  [Routledge 2018]).

Alex Purves is currently working on two projects. The first, Blue Homer: Reading the Sea in and beyond the Odyssey begins by examining the sea in early Greek poetry from the position of depths, surface, and shore, and then moves on to consider the color of the sea in Joyce’s Ulysses and immersion underwater in Walcott’s Omeros as a means of reframing Homeric reception. Her second project, entitled Micro-Sappho, investigates the ontological status of tiny, minute or immaterial words and things in Sappho’s poetry.

She is co-organizing with Louise Hornby in the English Department an interdisciplinary conference entitled Elemental Readings I: Air (May 19-20, 2023).

In addition to various visiting fellowships and lecture opportunities abroad, including the Spinoza Visiting Research Fellowship at Leiden, the Corbett Lecture at Cambridge, the Gaisford Lecture at Oxford and the Erwin Rohde Lectures at Heidelberg, she has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, and most recently the Loeb Classical Library and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

Alex Purves teach graduate and undergraduate courses in ancient Greek language, literature, and thought, as well as the department’s GE course on Classical Mythology (CL 30). In 2017, She was the recipient of UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award, with a special commendation for graduate teaching.

Students interested in pursuing graduate work with Alex Purves are encouraged to get in touch. You can listen to this interview to learn more about her work, mentoring, and research.


  • BA (Hons) English and Classical Studies, University of Nottingham, UK 1993
  • MA in Classical Studies, University of Nottingham, UK 1995
  • Post-baccalaureate program in Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania 1997
  • PhD in Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 2002




  • GRK 1–3 Introduction to Ancient Greek
  • GRK 20 Intermediate Greek I (Lucian)
  • GRK 100 Intermediate Greek II (Xenophon, Plato)
  • GRK 100+ Advanced Greek (Homer; Hesiod; Lysias; Euripides; Sophocles; Apollonius)
  • CL 30 Classical Mythology (GE)
  • CL 60 The Fantastic Journey: From Homer to 2001: a space odyssey (GE)
  • CL 191 Capstone Seminar (The Immortal Experience; Aeschylus’ Other Plays)
  • Hon 13 Honors Collegium Seminar
  • CL 19 Fiat Lux Seminar (Sappho)
  • GRK 200A Archaic Greek Poetry MA Survey
  • GRK 200B Classical Greek Literature MA Survey
  • CL 287 Graduate Proseminar
  • GRK 200+ Graduate Seminars (Homer’s Iliad; Homer’s Odyssey; Hesiod; Sappho; Herodotus; Aristophanes; Sappho & Alcaeus)

Fellowships and Awards

  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow 2023.
  • Loeb Classical Library Fellowship 2023-2024.
  • UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award, with special commendation for graduate teaching. 2017.
  • Spinoza Visiting Research Fellow. Leiden, Netherlands. 2016.
  • UCLA Faculty Career Development Award. 2009–2010 & 2004–2005.
  • American Council of Learned Societies, Fellow. 2005–2006.
  • Center for Hellenic Studies, Junior Fellow. 2005–2006.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities. Summer Stipend. 2005.