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Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Our People

Alexander Beecroft

Title: Jessie Chapman Alcorn Memorial Professor of Foreign Languages
Department: Languages, Literatures and Cultures
College of Arts and Sciences
Office: J. Welsh Humanities Bldg, 817
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]
Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
Alex Beecroft


2003 Ph.D, Comparative Literature, Harvard University

1995 B.A.(Honours) Classics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


Alexander Beecroft studies and teaches in Greek and Latin language and literature, ancient civilizations, literary theory (ancient and modern) and the theory and practice of world literature. His major areas of research interest lie in current debates about world literature, from the role of premodern texts to debates about the global novel; in the literatures of Ancient Greece and Rome and of pre-Tang Chinese literature (i.e. before AD 600). His first book, Authorship and Cultural Identity in Early Greece and China: Patterns of Literary Circulation was published by Cambridge University Press in 2010. He was the recipient of a Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship in the Humanities from the American Council of Learned Societies for the 2011-12 academic year for work on his second book, An Ecology of World Literature: From Antiquity to the Present Day. (Verso, January 2015). His current project, A Global History of Literature, is under contract with Johns Hopkins University Press. He has served as Secretary-Treasurer of the American Comparative Literature Association from 2011 to 2019.

Courses Taught

Introduction to Classical Mythology
Great Books of the Western World
Introduction to Graduate Study
Classics of Western Literary Theory
Modern Literary Theory
Topics in Literary Theory: Nostos: Nostalgia, Exile, Cosmopolitanism
Topics in Literary Theory: Worlding the Disciplines
Topics in Literary Theory: Thinking Through Cultures
Latin: Horace, Odes; Virgil, Eclogues and Georgics
Greek: Lyric Poetry; Euripides; Homer, Odyssey
Introduction to Ancient Greek
Sexuality, Gender, and Power in Ancient Rome

Publications and Presentations


An Ecology of World Literature:From Antiquity to the Present Day (Verso, 2015)
Authorship and Cultural Identity in Early Greece and China: Patterns of Literary Circulation. (Cambridge University Press, 2010)

Articles and Chapters
  • "Comparativisms." Invited contribution to The Bloomsbury Handbook of Literary and Cultural Theory. Jeffrey DiLeo, editor. London, New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018, pp. 216-230.
  • “The Rises of the Novel, Ancient and Modern” Cambridge Companion to the Novel, Eric Bulson, editor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018, pp. 43-56.
  • “Anthologies and Canon Formation in China and the West.” Invited contribution to special issue of Orbis Litterarum 73.4, “Literary Studies Across Cultures: a Chinese-European Dialogue”; pp. 341-347.
  • “Philological Empathy and Textual Gains and Losses” In the Kitabkhana on Innovations and Turning Points: Toward a History of Kāvya Literature. Edited by Yigal Bronner, David Dean Shulman, and Gary A. Tubb. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014, in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 38.1, May 2018, pp. 136-140.
  • “Homer and the Shi Jing as Imperial Texts,” Eurasian Empires in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages: Contact and Exchange between the Graeco-Roman World, Inner Asia and China. Hyun Jin Kim, Frederik Vervaet and Selim Adali, editors. Cambridge University Press, 2017, pp 153-173.
  • “Comparing the Comings into Being of Homeric Epic and the Shi Jing” The Homeric Epics and the Chinese Book of Songs: Foundational Texts Compared. Fritz-Heiner Mutschler, editor. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2018, pp. 73-86.
  • “Eurafrasiachronologies: Between the Eurocentric and the Planetary” Invited contribution to inaugural issue of Journal of World Literature 1.1 (2016), 17-28.
  • “Comparisons of Greece and China.” Invited Review Essay for Oxford Handbooks Online. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935390.013.14
  • “On the Tropes of Literary Ecology: The Plot of Globalization” Invited contribution to Globalizing literary genres : literature, history, modernity, edited by Jernej Habjan and Fabienne Imlinger (Routledge, 2016), 195-212.
  • “The Narrator and the Nation-Builder: Dialect, Dialogue, and Narrative Voice in Minority and Working-Class Fiction” Invited contribution to “Novel Beyond Nation,” special issue of Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée 42.4, (Dec. 2015) 410-423.
  • “Authorship in the Chinese Canon of Songs (Shi Jing)” Invited contribution to That Wonderful Composite Called Author: Authorship in East Asian Literatures from the Beginnings to the Seventeenth Century, edited by Christian Steineck and Christian Schwermann (Brill, September 2014), 58-97.
  • “The Bird of Passage and the Petit Panthéon: Frances Brooke, Philippe Aubert de Gaspé, and Where to Begin a National Literature” Studies in Canadian Literature/Études en littérature canadienne 38.1 (2013), 31-49.
  • “Greek, Latin, and the Origins of ‘World Literature’.” CLCWeb : Comparative Literature and Culture 15.5 (December 2013)
  • “Blindness and Literacy in the Lives of Homer” Classical Quarterly 61.1 (2011), 1-18.
  • “When Cosmopolitanisms Intersect: An Early Chinese Buddhist Apologetic and World Literature.” Comparative Literature Studies 47.3 (December 2010), 266-289.
  • "Oral Formula and Intertextuality in the Chinese Folk Tradition (Yuefu)" Early Medieval China 15 (2009), 23-47.
  • “World Literature Without a Hyphen: Towards A Typology of Literary Systems” New Left Review 54 (Nov-Dec 2008), 87-100.
  • “Nine Fragments in Search of an Author: Poetic lines attributed to Terpander,” The Classical Journal 103.3 (2008), 225-41.
  • “‘This is not a true story’: Stesichorus’ Palinode and the Revenge of the Epichoric” Transactions of the American Philological Association 156.1 (2006), 47-70.

Keynotes and Invited Lectures

  • “Can the Global Speak?” Keynote Lecture, “Tropes of Globalization” conference, Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität München, 27-29 June 2019.
  • “On Literary Ecologies.” Invited lecture, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 22 November 2018.
  • “How to write a Global History of Literature.” Public Lecture, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA, 8 November 2018.
  • “Poetry in Greece and China.” Invited lecture, Texas Tech University, Lubbock TX, 21 March 2018.
  • “Premodernity and World Literature.” Keynote address, “World Literature: Postcolonial Perspectives.” Delhi University, Delhi, India, 15 March 2018.
  • “Writing China in Global Literary History.” Invited lecture at Hong Kong University and University of Macau; 11 and 12 November, 2017.
  • “Global Literature: Dream or Nightmare?” Keynote speaker and roundtable moderator, Great Lakes College Association World Literature Symposium, Ann Arbor, MI, 2 June 2017.
  • ”Can we have a world literary history?” Invited lecture, University of Stockholm, 1 December 2016.
  • “Praise and Blame in Greek and Chinese Poetry.” Invited Lecture, University of Venice Ca’Foscari, 28 November 2016.
  • “Classics and Literary Ecology” Invited lecture, Mellon Sawyer Seminar, “"Bibliomigrancy: World Literature in the Public Sphere," University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 1 May 2015.
  • "The Roads to Damascus and Hanoi: Conversion and Cosmopolitanism in the New Testament and the Mouzi Lihuolun" Invited lecture, Centre for Human Evolution, Cognition, and Culture, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, 9 February 2015.
  • “Praise and Blame in Greek and Chinese Lyric.” Invited Lecture: Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy, 25 November 2014.
  • “Homer and the Shi Jing: A Comparative Approach” Invited Lecture: Tsinghua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan, 23 October 2014.
  • “Literary Ecology and Literary Form” Invited Lecture, Notre Dame University Department of English, 6 February 2014, South Bend, IN.
  • “The Classics as Public Sphere in Modernizing Europe and China,” Invited talk, Comparative Literature Lunch Series, Pennsylvania State University, 3 October 2011.
  • “The Significance of Greece and China for a Theory of World Literature,” opening lecture for “The Classical in Modern Times: A Year on China and Greece,” University of Michigan, 22 September 2011.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.