Joshua Billings

Assistant Professor of Classics and Humanities

Joshua Billings studied at Harvard as an undergraduate (AB, Classics and German; AM, Comparative Literature 2007) and at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in German (MSt 2008) and Classics (DPhil 2011).

He began teaching at Yale in fall 2012, following a year as Research Fellow at St John's College, Cambridge. His research focuses on tragedy, intellectual history, and the classical tradition.

His first book, The Genealogy of the Tragic: Greek tragedy and German philosophy, will be published by Princeton University Press in 2014. It traces thought on tragedy from eighteenth-century debates about the place of ancient literature in modernity through the philosophy of German Idealism. A volume of essays on Choruses, Ancient and Modern (co-edited with Felix Budelmann and Fiona Macintosh) is in press at Oxford University Press, and a volume on Greek tragedy and modern intellectual history, Tragedy and the Idea of Modernity (with Miriam Leonard; for the OUP Classical Presences series) is under contract. In 2013-14, he is co-editing the Norton Critical Edition of Aeschylus' Oresteia with Oliver Taplin, and working on articles on Walter Benjamin, the Bacchae, and late eighteenth-century philhellenism.

Recent articles

  • An Alien Body? Choral Questions around 1800”, in Choruses, Ancient and Modern, ed. J. Billings, F. Budelmann, F. Macintosh (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).
  • “The ends of tragedy: Oedipus at Colonus and German Idealism”, Arion 21.1 (2013), 111-29
  • “Misreading the chorus: Nietzsche’s Geburt der Tragödie as methodological critique”, Nietzsche-Studien 38 (2009), 246-68
  • “Hyperion’s symposium: an erotics of reception”, Classical Receptions Journal 2 (2010), 4-24
  • “Epic and Tragic Music: the union of the arts in the eighteenth century”, Journal of the History of Ideas 72.1 (2011), 99-117.
  • “Choral dialectics: Hölderlin and Hegel”, in Choral Mediations in Greek Drama, ed. R. Gagné and M. Hopman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

featured Courses This Year

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CLCV 237/HUMS 326


Spring 2014, T 2.30-4.20

This course fulfills the area requirement in the humanities and arts (HU)

Socrates is the great mystery at the heart of what we know as "philosophy." A controversial and inspirational figure in his time, put to death for "corrupting the young," he has influenced nearly every major thinker of the western tradition. Yet we know him only through the reports of other, contemporary authors – Plato, most famously, as well as Xenophon and Aristophanes.

None of these depictions is definitive, and their very incompleteness has spurred modern thinkers, including Ficino, Hamann, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Derrida to return to the figure of Socrates. The course will survey depictions of Socrates, ancient and modern, and consider irony, writing, the examined life, death, and the state (among other topics).

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Interests Greek literature and philosophy (especially tragedy and Plato), literary criticism and theory, German philosophy.

Courses CLCV 406/CLSS 606/CPLT5 593/HUMS 321 The Classics and Modern Theory CLCV 237/HUMS 326 Socrates

Contact details

Phelps 203