Peter O’Connell studies the languages and civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome. He received his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard and an M. Phil. degree from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Frank Knox Fellow. His special interests include Greek prose of all periods, Classical Athenian literature and culture, Greek law, Greek epigraphy and Greek religion.
His current book project, The Performance of Persuasion: Seeing and Hearing in Attic Forensic Oratory, discusses the performative effects of the language of sight in speeches from Athenian trials of the fifth and fourth centuries BC. The texts of these speeches are all that survive of dynamic performances that sought to persuade jurors through voice, words, gestures and appearance. Peter’s research shows how litigants’ words work together with their physical appearance, how litigants plant images in their jurors’ minds, and how litigants bring their speeches to life by referring to people in the courtroom. His work draws on traditional philology, legal anthropology and modern linguistics.
He is the author of an article entitled, "Hyperides and Epopteia: A New Fragment of the Defense of Phryne," which is forthcoming in Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies. He is also beginning a new project on Attic documentary inscriptions as visual recreations of performances in the Athenian assembly.
Peter is hosted by the Department of Classics. Last year, he taught an upper-level Greek course on Lysias and Antiphon and Greek prose composition. This year, he is teaching Beginning Greek and a graduate seminar on "Narrative, Persuasion and Emotion in Classical Athens."