harvard university
program of modern greek studies -
The Department of the Classics, Program of Modern Greek Studies, has recently established a new publication series in collaboration with Harvard University Press.
Learn More.
Evangelinos Apostolides Sophocles from the
George Seferis Chair Archive
Seminar on Modern Greek Literature and Culture, Humanities Center at Harvard
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Seminar on
Cultural Politics: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, The Weatherhead Center for International Affairs
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Modern Greek Language Instruction at Harvard
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Overview of the Program

The Program of Modern Greek Studies at Harvard, part of the Department of the Classics, is the oldest program of its kind in the United States. The Program has offered both undergraduate and graduate level electives since 1978, and has since added Citation in Modern Greek, as well as courses leading to a Bachelors degree in Modern Greek (special and joint concentrations). In 1987, we became the first program in the United States to grant a doctorate in this field. We also offer courses to the general public through the Extension School. The Program places emphasis on the study of the Greek language, including its history and development; the study of Greek literature, culture, and history from the twelfth century to the present day; modern critical theory and textual criticism; social and anthropological approaches to modern Greek culture; oral literature and reception studies. Since the establishment of the Ph.D. Program in Modern Greek Studies in 1987, our Program has produced the largest number of Ph.D. graduates in the field in the United States, many of whom currently hold important positions at American and European Universities.

In addition to a comprehensive interdisciplinary training, another great advantage for students of the Program of Modern Greek Studies at Harvard is mentorship. The Program offers a Fellowship to at least one Ph.D. student in Modern Greek Studies per year. The Fellowship, which covers tuition as well as living expenses, is awarded to applicants on the basis of academic merit. Upon arrangement with the Program Director, Ph.D. students may be admitted primarily to the Department of the Classics or of Comparative Literature, or to any other Department of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard.

Resources and Facilities

Students and researchers at the Program of Modern Greek Studies at Harvard have access to exceptional facilities. In addition to Harvard’s broad and vibrant academic community, students can benefit from the university’s Modern Greek Collection of Books and Manuscripts as well as a wide range of rare Collections in Oral Literature and Folklore Studies, which were created and organized by distinguished Harvard scholars such as F.J. Child, G.L. Kittredge, James Notopoulos, Cedric Whitman, Milman Parry, and Albert B. Lord. The Modern Greek Collection of the Harvard College Library, which dates back to the early 19th century, is the largest and richest collection of its kind outside Greece, comprising more than 200,000 items on Modern Greek history and culture. In addition to a large number of current Greek and Cypriot journals, the Collection includes rare books and manuscripts, first editions of early modern and modern authors, including poets, travelers and American missionaries to Greece, folklore recordings, as well as an unusually complete set of nineteenth-century periodicals. Housed in Houghton Library are many rare first editions and manuscripts, including some of Cavafy’s privately printed broadsheets. Also worth mention are the historical documents concerning the Greek War of Independence, Philhellenism, and (Greek) constitutional history; a complete set of minutes of meetings of European Philhellenes held in Paris between 1815 and 1833, as well as a collection (acquired by Harvard in 1966) of 160 items related to the Greek Revolution, are of special historical value. Additional research resources include the Notopoulos Collection, the Greek Shadow Theater or Karaghiozes Collection (the first systematic collection of its kind), the Collection on Modern Greek Theater, the Woodberry Poetry Room recordings of original poetry readings at Harvard, and the Harvard i-poetry electronic site, which includes a site for Modern Greek poetry.

The Modern Greek Collection at Harvard has been cultivated and fostered by scholars, librarians, curators, and Philhellenes from the nineteenth century to the present day. Among the many indefatigable librarians, curators, scholars, and admirers of modern Greek culture who systematically expanded and supported the Modern Greek Collection at Harvard the following merit special mention: Roger Stoddard, Paul H. Buck, Harry K. Messenger, and Evangelie Flessas. Of unique importance was the contribution of the librarian Evro Layton, an internationally renowned scholar, who single-handedly founded the field of the history of the Greek book and typography in the sixteenth century. Inquiries about the collection may be addressed to Rhea Karabelas-Lesage, Head and Bibliographer for the Modern Greek Division of Widener Library.


The Department of the Classics, Program of Modern Greek Studies, has recently established a new publication series 
in collaboration with Harvard University Press. Two groups of books are
 published in this series:

  1. Cultural Politics, Socioaesthetics, Beginnings: monographs and edited
    volumes on different aspects of Greek traditions and societies. The
    research focus and scholarly scope of this new series is interdisciplinary,
    transhistorical, and comparative, with an Advisory Board consisting of
    an international group of scholars in the fields of Greek Studies,
    comparative literature, anthropology, sociocultural history, as well as
    in related disciplines.
  2. Harvard Early Modern and Modern Greek Library: editions of Greek texts,
 accompanied by introductory chapters, English translations, and notes/brief 

Learn more about our publications.

Inquiries about the two sub-series may be addressed to Panagiotis Roilos.

Curriculum and Technology

In terms of curriculum, the Harvard Ph.D. Program in Modern Greek Studies offers a unique training across a wide range of linguistic, philological, literary, historical, and anthropological methods. Courses on Greek literature and societies from the period between the twelfth century and the (post)modern era are usually synchronic and diachronic in scope, as well as broadly interdisciplinary.

The language component of the curriculum includes four core courses of Greek at the elementary and intermediate level, and two elective courses of advanced Greek, along with a series of independent readings on a variety of topics. The use of technology is integrated in the teaching of Modern Greek at Harvard. Courses are held on a weekly basis in the Language Resource Center, where a pilot program has been established, which offers students the opportunity to practice their skills in a different setting. Also, in cooperation with the Simon Fraser University, Canada, every enrolled student has access to a supplementary online course, the Odysseas Language Tutor. The language instruction in Modern Greek at Harvard focuses on excellence and innovation not only in the classroom but also in research, aiming to bring Modern Greek language instruction to the forefront of L2 Acquisition. Inquiries about the language component of the curriculum should be addressed to the Preceptor of Modern Greek, Dr. Vassiliki Rapti.

Affiliations and Collaborations

The Program of Modern Greek Studies collaborates with a number of other Departments and Centers at Harvard including the Department of Comparative Literature, the Department of Anthropology, the Study of Religion, the Program in Folklore and Mythology, the Medieval Studies Committee, the Center for European Studies, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, the Humanities Center at Harvard, the J.F. Kennedy School of Government, and the Harvard Film Archive. Long-term collaborations have also been established with other universities in the USA and Europe, such as The Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, the University of Montreal, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and the Center for Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C.