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Elizabeth Cooper

Elizabeth Cooper

Project title

Self-mutilation in the Ancient World: Medicine, Culture and Society


Elizabeth Cooper

Project description

This project explores the phenomenon of self-mutilation in antiquity. It investigates a series of case studies from a variety of textual sources. Genres include tragedy, historiography and philosophical writings. I also include some iconographical and epigraphic evidence.

I will investigate how aspects such as aetiology, method, context and reception can provide an insight into whether the ancients conceptualised it. I will achieve this via an interdisciplinary approach. I am using literary criticism, iconology, intertextuality and reception theory. I am examining relevant theories and practices from the time. In particular, these include medicine, philosophy and religion.

Research grants

  • Research Excellence Academy Studentship (Newcastle University) 
  • Trevor Saunders Prize for Outstanding Performance in Greek (Newcastle University, 2012)

Conference papers

  • “Phaedra’s Physician: Medical Questions and Answers in Euripides’ Hippolytus”, delivered at: “Where does it hurt?” Ancient Medicine in Questions and Answers (KU Leuven, 2016)
  • “Sending Out a Message: Zaleucus of Locri and the Punishment of Blinding In and Beyond Antiquity”, delivered at: Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient History: “Messages and Media” (Newcastle University, 2016)

Other roles

  • Seminar Co-ordinator of Postgraduate Forum (Newcastle University, 2016-17)
  • Tutor at JACT Latin and Greek Summer School (St John’s College, Durham, 2016) 
  • Session Leader at “Mind the Gap” Annual Conference (Newcastle University, 2016)


  • BA with First Class Honours in Classics (Newcastle University, 2011-14) 
  • MA with Merit in Classics (University College London, 2014-5)