Irene Butter Collegiate Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Languages: Dutch, German, French, Ancient Greek, Latin
Affiliations: Comparative Literature; English Language and Literature; Classical Studies; Contexts for Classics
Teaching interests: My teaching areas are nineteenth-century poetry and prosody, comparative poetics and lyric theory, critical translation studies, and classical reception studies. At the undergraduate level, I regularly teach a lecture course on "Great Performances" that introduces students to live performances on campus. I also enjoy advising capstone projects for the undergraduate Minor in Translation Studies and the Graduate Certificate in Critical Translation Studies. I have served on a wide range of PhD committees in English, Comparative Literature, and Classical Studies, and as a cognate member of DMA committees in the School of Music, Theater, and Dance.
- CompLit 141: Great Performances at Michigan (lecture course)
- CompLIt 322: Translating World Literatures (upper-level writing course)
- CompLit 780: Translation of Poetry, Poetry of Translation (graduate seminar)
- CompLit 750: Comparing Approaches to Classical Reception Studies (graduate seminar)
- English 635 : Nineteenth-century Poetry and (in, as, of) Translation (Graduate Seminar)
Research interests: As a scholar in Comparative Literature, I pursue interdisciplinary approaches to literary studies. Currently I am completing a book on meter and music in Victorian poetry, entitled Voice Inverse, and I am doing research on the reception of classical meters for presentation at the Sather Lectures at UC Berkeley in 2025. In my research, I often collaborate with other scholars. Over the years I have written together with Virginia Jackson (UC Irvine) on topics related to lyric theory and comparative poetics. Together with Americanists and Victorianists from various institutions, we are the founding members of the Nineteenth Century Historical Poetics Group which meets twice a year to discuss readings in Anglophone poetry and poetics from the long nineteenth century.
At the University of Michigan I have been involved in collaborative work related to critical translation studies, including research, teaching, program building, and community outreach. I am working together with a team of U-M colleagues to co-ordinate a two-year Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series on Translation in the Multilingual Midwest, including a series of events on Translation for the Community, and the launch of a public-facing site: translatingmichigan.org
I am also a founding member of Contexts for Classics, an interdepartmental faculty consortium housed at the University of Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities. Founded in 2001 as one of the first American initiatives in Classical reception studies, CfC offers a Graduate Certificate in Classical Reception Studies, and is affiliated with the International Classical Reception Studies Network.
- "An Essay on An Essay on Irony," in Anne Carson / Antiquity, ed. Laura Jansen (Bloomsbury, Fall 2021).
- "Sapphic Stanzas: How can we read the rhythm?" In Critical Rhythm:The Poetics of a Literary Life Form, ed. Ben Glaser and Jonathan Culler (Fordham University Press, 2019).
- “ 'What is Historical Poetics?',” in Modern Language Quarterly 77.1 (Winter 2016).
- "This Bird That Never Settles: A Virtual Conversation with Anne Carson about Greek Tragedy," in The Oxford Handbook of Greek Drama in the Americas, ed. Kathryn Bosher, Fiona Macintosh, Justine McConnell, Patrick Rankine (Oxford University Press, 2015).
- “’Break Break Break’ into Song,” in Meter Matters: Verse Cultures of the Long Nineteenth Century, ed. Jason Hall (Ohio University Press, 2011).
- “Classics for Victorians.” Victorian Studies 52.2 (Winter 2010).
- “Historical Poetics, Dysprosody, and the Science of English Verse.” In “New Lyric Studies,” PMLA 123.1 (January 2008).
- “Robert Browning, Transported by Meter.” In The Traffic in Poems: Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Transatlantic Exchange, ed. Meredith McGill (Rutgers University Press, 2007).
- “Metrical Translation: Nineteenth-Century Homers and the Hexameter Mania.” In Nation, Language and the Ethics of Translation, ed. Sandra Bermann and Michael Wood (Princeton University Press, 2005).
- “Sappho Recomposed: A Song Cycle by Granville and Helen Bantock.” In The Figure of Music in Nineteenth-Century British Poetry, ed. Phyllis Weliver (Ashgate Press, 2005).
- “Greek Maenads, Victorian Spinsters.” In Victorian Sexual Dissidence, ed. Richard Dellamora (Chicago University Press, 1999). Awarded Prize for Best Essay in 1999 by the Women’s Classical Caucus of the American Philological Association.
- “Sappho’s Afterlife in Translation.” In Re-Reading Sappho: Reception and Transmission, ed. Ellen Greene (University of California Press, 1997).
- "The Power of the Speech Act: Aeschulus' Furies and Their Binding Song." Arethusa 24.2 (Fall 1991).
- “Violence Bridling Speech: Browning’s Translation of Aeschylus’s Agamemnon.” Victorian Poetry 27.3-4 (1989).