Michelle Zerba | LSU Foreign Languages and Literatures

Michelle Zerba

Michelle  Zerba 

Maggie B. Martin Professor of Rhetoric and Classical Studies

  • B.A. University of California, Irvine (English and Classics)
  • M.A. University of California, Berkeley (Comparative Literature)
  • Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley (Comparative Literature)

Phone: 225-578-4086

E-mail: mzerba@michellezerba.com

Office: 223E Allen Hall



Michelle Zerba has taught in the Department of Classics at the University of Michigan and currently holds positions in the Departments of English and Foreign Languages and the Program in Comparative Literature at Louisiana State University. Her research and teaching span the fields of classical literature and philosophy; early modern drama and political theory; classical reception; and ancient rhetoric. She has traveled widely in the Mediterranean and has directed study abroad programs in Greece and Turkey.

Area of Interest

Greek and Latin languages and literature, early modern literature, comparative literature, literary theory, rhetoric, political and ethical philosophy.


Awards & Honors

  • Grant, Partnership University Fund (French Government), Teaching and Research Collaboration between LSU and University of the Antilles, Martinique, 2017-2018
  • Grant, National Endowment for the Humanities, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2016-2017
  • LSU Distinguished Research Master Award, 2017
  • Robert Amborski Outstanding Faculty Award, LSU Honors College, 2016
  • LSU Erich and Lea Sternberg Professorship, Honors College, 2013-2014
  • Visiting Scholar, Columbia University, Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, 2014
  • Grant, ATLAS, 2010-2011
  • Regents’ Research Grants, 2007, 2014, 2018
  • Phi Beta Kappa


  • Aristotle, Poetics, Norton Critical Edition, Co-editor, 2018
  • Doubt and Skepticism in Antiquity and the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2012)
  • Tragedy and Theory: The Problem of Conflict Since Aristotle (Princeton University Press, 1988). Reissued 2014 by Princeton University Press in Legacy Library

Selected Articles

  • Renaissance Homer: Humanist Learning, the Visual Vernacular, and the Socialization of Bodies, Renaissance Quarterly, 70.3 (2017): 831-61

  • “Reflections on Skepticism in Homer’s Odyssey and the Poetry of C.P. Cavafy,” Comparative Literature 67.3 (2015): 246-64.
  • “What Penelope Knew: Doubt and Skepticism in Homer’s Odyssey,” Classical Quarterly 59.2 (2009): 295-316.
  • “Odyssean Charisma and the Uses of Persuasion,” American Journal of Philology 130.3 (2009): 313-339.
  • “The Frauds of Humanism: Cicero, Machiavelli, and the Rhetoric of Imposture,” Rhetorica 22 (2004): 215-240.
  • “Love, Envy, and Pantomimic Morality in Cicero’s De Oratore,” Classical Philology  98 (2003): 299-321.

Work in Progress (Book Manuscript)

           Modern Odysseys: Reading Homer with C.P. Cavafy, Virginia Woolf, and Aimé Césaire


Conferences, Lectures, Readings

  • Roundtable, “Ethics and the Orator,” American Political Science Association, Boston, August, 2018
  • Invited Paper, “Édouard Glissant: l’éclat et l’obscur,” International Transdisciplinary Colloquium, University of the Antilles, Martinique, March 20-23, 2018
  • Paper, “The Return Tale in Woolf’s Orlando and Homer’s Odyssey,” International Virginia Woolf Society, University of Reading, July 2017
  • Paper, “Renaissance Homer: Reception at the Crossroads of Humanist Learning, the Visual Vernacular, and the Socializing of Female Bodies,” American Comparative Literature Association, Utrecht, The Netherlands, July 2017
  • Paper, “Homer’s Odyssey, Humanist Learning, and Renaissance Painting: Rethinking Reception,” Renaissance Society of America,” Boston, March 2016
  • Invited Lecture, “Homer’s Odyssey, Humanist Learning, and Renaissance Painting: Rethinking Reception,” UC Berkeley, December 2015
  • Paper, “‘At the End of Daybreak’: Homecoming and the Journey into Memory in Homer’s Odyssey and Aimé Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal,” American Comparative Literature Association, Seattle, March 2015
  • Invited Lecture, “Reflections on Skepticism in Homer’s Odyssey and the Poetry of C.P. Cavafy,” Institute for Cultural Inquiry and the Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany, 2013
  • Invited Lecture, “Homer’s Odyssey: Exile and Homecoming,” Department of Classics, Yale University, November 2013
  • Paper, “Odyssean Comparatisms: Women, Sites of Passage, and Concepts of Home in Homer’s Odyssey,” International Comparative Literature Association, Paris, July 2013


  • Shakespeare

  • History of Literary Theory

  • Tragedy, Ancient to Modern
  • History of Greek and Roman Civilization
  • Greek Drama (in translation)
  • Ancient Epic (in translation)
  • Greek Tragedy (in Greek)
  • Greek Oratory (in Greek)
  • Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey (in Greek)

Curriculum Vitae