Michelle  Zerba 
Erich and Lea Sternberg Professor
Bachelor's Degree(s): California-Irvine
Master's Degree: University of California, Berkeley
PhD: University of California, Berkeley, 1982 Classical languages and literature, Rennaissance literature, comparative literature, literary theory, rhetoric, political and ethical philosophy
Phone: 225-578-3048
E-mail: mzerba@michellezerba.com
Office: 223E Allen Hall



Michelle Zerba has taught in the Department of Classics at the University of Michigan and currently holds positions in the Departments of English and Foreign Languages and the Program in Comparative Literature at Louisiana State University.  Her research and teaching span the fields of classical literature, rhetoric, and philosophy; Renaissance studies; and political theory. She has traveled widely in the Mediterranean and has directed study abroad programs in Greece and Turkey.

Area of Interest

Greek and Latin languages and literature, early modern literature, comparative literature, literary theory, rhetoric, political and ethical philosophy.

Awards & Honors

Erich and Lea Sternberg Professorship 2013-2014; Nomination by Cambridge University Press for MLA Scaglione Prize in Comparative Literary Studies (2013) and René Wellek Prize of American Comparative Literature Association (2012); Regents’ Research Grant 2014, 2007; Manship Grant 2013; ATLAS Grant 2010; Outstanding Teacher, Student Government Association 2004; Honors College Tiger Athletic Foundation Faculty Award 1999; Alpha Lambda Delta Freshman Honor Society, in Recognition of Superior Instruction of Freshman Students 1996, 1998, 1999; American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship 1986; American Association of University Women Fellowship 1986; Lilly Foundation Teaching Grant, University of Michigan,1984; Phi Beta Kappa.

Selected Publications
Doubt and Skepticism in Antiquity and the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2012; ISBN: 9781107024656)
Tragedy and Theory: The Problem of Conflict Since Aristotle (Princeton University Press, 1988)

Articles (selected)
• “What Penelope Knew: Skepticism and Doubt in Homer’s Odyssey.” Classical Quarterly 59.2 (2009): 295-316.
• “Odyssean Charisma and the Uses of Persuasion.” American Journal of Philology 130.3 (2009): 313-339.
• “Modalities of Tragic Doubt in Homer’s Odyssey, Sophocles’ Philoctetes, and Shakespeare’s Othello.” Comparative Literature 61 (2009): 1-25.
• “The Frauds of Humanism: Cicero, Machiavelli, and the Rhetoric of Imposture.” Rhetorica 22 (2004): 215-240.
• “Love, Envy, and Pantomimic Morality in Cicero’s De Oratore.” Classical Philology 98 (2003): 299-321.
• “Medea Hypokrites.” Arethusa, 35 (2002): 315-337.
• “Interpreting Greek Tragedy: History, Theory, and the New Philology.” In History, Tragedy, Theory: Dialogues on Athenian Drama, ed. Barbara Goff, University of Texas Press, 1995, pp. 38-58.
• “Socratic Magic: Enchantment, Irony, and Persuasion in Some Dialogues of Plato.” Classical World 87 (1994): 275-307.

Work in Progress
Coeditor, Special Edition of Comparative Literature: Odyssey, Exile, Return
Coeditor, Norton Critical Edition, Aristotle’s Poetics
Artistic and Creative Projects

Creator ofSouthern Crossroads: An Intersection of Diverse Artistic Expressions. Program series that brought Louisiana State University together with the historically black Southern University in a partnership designed to enhance diversity in the arts and humanities.

• Producer and Director.Southern Crossroads: Music, Literature, the Visual Arts, and All That Jazz. Featuring pianist Ellis Marsalis, photographer Herman Leonard, sculptor John Scott, and actress Lynn Whitfield. Premiered in the Union Theatre of Louisiana State University, April 2004.

• Producer and Director.Southern Crossroads: Samarkand—the Lyrics, Rhythms, and Spirit of the Marketplace.Featuring Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, composer-conductor Tania León, and choreographer Peter Badejo. Premiered in the Shaw Center for the Performing Arts, Baton Rouge, March 2005.

Curriculum Vitae