Carol Dougherty

Professor of Classical Studies

Specializes in the literature and culture of Ancient Greece; teaches Greek drama and myth, and the theme of travel in literature.

Carol Dougherty is Professor Classical Studies and Director of Comparative Literature at Wellesley College. Her research focuses on the intersection of history, literature, and culture of archaic and classical Greece (8-6th centuries BCE). Her first two books explored the transformative and tumultuous period of the eighth century—a time when Greeks settled new lands, engaged in far-reaching trade networks, and embarked upon radical new experiments in politics, economics, and communication. The Poetics of Colonization (Oxford University Press 1993) reads the kinds of stories the Greeks told themselves about founding new colonies abroad, and The Raft of Odysseus (Oxford University Press 2001) looks at ways that Homer’s Odyssey represents a culture engaged in negotiating a new place for itself in a rapidly changing world. Her most recent book, Travel and Home in Homer and Contemporary Literature (Oxford University Press 2019) brings the Odyssey together with readings of contemporary novels (e.g. M. Robinson, Housekeeping, M. Ondaatje, The English Patient, C. McCarthy, The Road) that are equally interested in questions of travel and homecoming. Her current research explores the way that Athenian tragedy confronts and elaborates the challenges that mobility places upon issues of civic belonging and identity in Athens of the fifth century BCE.


  • B.A., Stanford University
  • M.A., University of California (Santa Barbara)
  • M.A., Princeton University
  • Ph.D., Princeton University

Current and upcoming courses

  • Achilles' heel, the Trojan Horse, Pandora's Box, an Oedipal complex, a Herculean task-themes and figures from classical mythology continue to play an important role in our everyday life. We will read the original tales of classical heroes and heroines as depicted by Homer, the Greek tragedians, Vergil, Ovid, and others. Why do these stories continue to engage, entertain, and even shock us? What is the nature and power of myth? Readings from ancient sources in English translation.
  • Study of a selected work from Classical Athenian literature, such as a dialogue of Plato or a tragedy of Euripides. Supplementary reading in English translation from other Greek works to illuminate the text in its literary and cultural context.