Kathryn Mattison
Associate Professor, Greek & Roman Studies

Kathryn Mattison is Associate Professor in the Classics Department, where her teaching and research focus on the language and literature of ancient Greece. She completed her PhD at the University of Toronto in 2009 and has been at McMaster ever since.

Her research concentrates on ancient Greek tragedy and how it intersects with the society that produced it, which can show us how ancient Athenians thought about issues facing their society. Her most recent publication (‘Elegy and Sophocles’ Philoctetes: a reflection on generic resonance,’ in H. Marshall and C.W. Marshall (eds) Greek Drama V. Studies in the Theatre of the Fifth and Fourth Centuries BCE. Bloomsbury, 2020) examines the relationship between Greek tragedy and lyric poetry, and how lyric poetry can help explain how and why tragedy evolved as a genre. Her projects have ranged from this question of the development of the genre (including also ‘Rhesus and the evolution of tragedy.’ Classical World 108.4, Fall 2015), to the role tragedy plays in exploring more domestic issues that help us understand Athenian social values (‘Sophocles’ Trachiniae: Lessons in Love,’ Greece and Rome 62.1, April 2015). By exploring the development of the genre we can understand how storytelling through drama became a central aspect of civic engagement that reflects the idealized democratic voice. Her current ongoing project is studying how tragedians depict characters away from home. The characters’ desire to return home and their interactions with others in their current location gives us important insight into how tragedians framed questions surrounding self and other, and the importance of belonging to a home community. This can help us to think not only about the contemporary ancient Athenian audience’s community values, but can also provide us with a framework for thinking about our society – who we are, how we interact with others, and how where we are shapes us – today. As a literary scholar, Dr. Mattison strives both to understand the value of tragedy in shaping and reflecting ancient Athenian society and to identify the components in it that continue to resonate.
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