Katherine Kretler

Katherine Kretler


B.A. Harvard, 1992
Ph.D. University of Chicago, 2011


Kate received her PhD from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, where she studied a broad range of texts and approaches. She specializes in ancient Greek literature and philosophy and has a particular love for Homer and Plato. Her book, One Man Show: Poetics and Presence in the Iliad and Odyssey (forthcoming from Harvard University Press/Center for Hellenic Studies) brings out the virtues of the Homeric poems as solo performance texts or scripts. One way in to these virtues is through Plato and Aristotle’s strong reactions to Homer. Unlike modern readers, these philosophers (like any other Greek) had the Iliad and the Odyssey in their bones. The fact that they saw these poems performed accounts in large part for their obsession with Homer, and with the poems’ ghostly or uncanny quality. While the book takes its cue from the philosophers in order to probe the poems, her next major project engages more directly with Plato and Aristotle’s reactions to, and imitations of, Homer. She has also written on Aristotle’s account of the birth of tragedy, situating it within Greek poetic practices, and on the value of drama to our understanding of action, comparing Aristotle’s treatment of this topic with that of the anthropologist Victor Turner.

As an undergraduate, Kate intended to go to medical school and worked one summer in a genetics lab. But she was gradually drawn in by courses in literature, religion and philosophy, and an intensive summer Greek course finally changed her plans. She took her BA at Harvard in Psychology and the Study of Religion, a self-designed major. 

This is Kate’s second year teaching in SLE. Prior to arriving in the Bay Area, Kate taught in Classics, Philosophy, and humanities/great books programs, all in cold climates: University of Chicago, Dartmouth College, Concordia University in Montreal, and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

Kate has worked as a dialect coach in Homeric Greek and loves to work with students and theater practitioners on performance, in and out of the classroom. Apart from books, she enjoys social dance, walking in the woods, and live theater of any kind, especially stand-up comedy.