School of History, Classics & Archaeology

About our staff

Photo of Douglas Cairns

Professor Douglas Cairns

MA, PhD, FHEA, MAE

Professor of Classics

 

Contact information
Address: Room 00M.12, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School, Teviot Place
Telephone: +44 (0)131 651 1647
Office hours: Please contact by e-mail; on research leave 2017-22
Roles
  • Chair, Scottish Graduate School in Arts and Humanities, Panel C.
Biography

A Glaswegian, I graduated with MA (Hons) in Classics, University of Glasgow, in 1983 and received the PhD in Greek, University of Glasgow, in 1987.

I have been Lecturer in Greek, University of St Andrews, 1986; Post-doctoral Fellow, Leverhulme Trust, Georg-August Universität, Göttingen, 1987-8; Lecturer in Classics, University of Otago, 1988-92; Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Classics, University of Leeds, 1992-9; Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Classics, University of Glasgow, 1999-2004. 

I took up the Chair of Classics at Edinburgh on 1 September 2004 and served as Head of Classics 2004-5 and Head of School from 2005-8. 

I was a Research Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung in 1993-5 (Georg-August Universität, Göttingen) and 2011 (Humboldt Universität, Berlin), held a Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust from 2008-11 and a Senior Research Fellowship from the ERC/Oxford University Project, The Social and Cultural Construction of Emotions, 2012-13. I currently direct the AHRC-funded project, A History of Distributed Cognition (http://www.hdc.ed.ac.uk) and the Leverhulme Trust International Research Network, Emotions through Time: From Antiquity to Byzantium.

In 2008 I was Visiting Professor in Classics, Kyoto University, Japan.  I have been Peter A. Vlachos Lecturer in Classics (Colby College, 2007), Margaret Heavey Lecturer in Classics (NUI Galway, 2009), Platsis Symposiast (University of Michigan, 2009). George R. Langford Family Eminent Scholar Chair, Florida State University (2012), and Visiting Professor in Classics at the University of Pisa (2017).

I am or have been involved in the following international collaborations:

Affiliated researcher, Excellenz-Cluster, Languages of Emotion, Freie Universität Berlin, 2011-12

Member, Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature, University of Oslo/Norwegian Academy, September 2011-

Member, Swiss Center for Affective Science, May 2013-

Member, Groupe de recherche international AITIA/AITIAI – Le lien causal dans la pensée antique: origines, formes et transformations (funded by CNRS Paris; Coimbra, Edinburgh, Oxford, Paris, Sao Paolo, Venice), 2014-18

PI, Leverhulme International Research Network, Emotions through Time, with colleagues in Cyprus, Edinburgh, London, Odense, and Vienna, 2016-18.

I was elected to membership of Academia Europaea (the European Academy) in September 2013.

Please note that the postgraduate supervision tab on this page is now deeply inaccurate and rarely updated. The following is a list of PhD topics supervised in the past 15 years: 

(i) The Theme of Return in Greek Tragedy

(ii) Selbstdarstellung in the Sicilian Odes of Pindar and Bacchylides

(iii) Deiloi Brotoi: Human Beings in the Iliad

(iv) Reading Quintus Reading Homer: Intertextual Engagement in Quintus Smyrnaeus’ Posthomerica

(v) Metaphor and Emotion: Eros in the Greek Novel

(vi) Artemis in Magna Graecia

(vii) Religion in Herodotus

(viii) Psychological Imagery in Apollonius Rhodius

(ix) Xenophon’s Theory of Moral Education

(x) On the Razor’s Edge of Fate: Fate and Determinism in Sophocles’ Theban Plays

(xi) Demeter in Hellenistic Poetry

(xii) The Body in the Mind in Homer

(xiii) Politics, Ideology, and Economy in the Pindaric World

(xiv) Pindar, Sophocles, and Archaic Greek Thought

(xv) Music and Emotions in the Ancient Aristotelian Tradition

(xvi) Myth in Athenian Oratory

(xvii) Greek Parodic Poetry

(xviii) The Myth of the Leucippides,

(xix) Antigone in the Twentieth Century

(xx) The Social Therapeutic Function of Greek Tragedy through the Lens of Lev S. Vygotsky

(xxi) Heterosexual Erôs in Greek Tragedy

(xii) [Archilochus]

External appointments
  • Vice-President, The Classical Association
  • Editor, Journal of Hellenic Studies
  • Chair, Classical Association Journals Board
  • Member, Editorial Board, Lexis: Ancient Philosophy (A. M. Hakkert, Amsterdam)
  • Series editor, Edinburgh Leventis Studies
  • Member, Leverhulme Trust Research Awards Advisory Committee
  • Member, GEV 10, VQR 2011-2014
  • Research Assessor, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland
Useful Links

Research in a Nutshell video

See also the video of the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies lecture, 13 November 2014:  'The Horror and the Pity: Phrike as a Tragic Emotion'.

http://youtu.be/XdqVoXWU4Ts

The handout for this talk is available on the SPHS website: http://www.hellenicsociety.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/London-SPHS-phrike-handout.pdf

Also available is the talk ‘Language, Literature, and History in the Study of Emotion’:

https://vimeo.com/163284382 (Edinburgh, 14 April 2016).

This is part of the University's seminar series, ‘The world as we feel it’: see the project website at: http://www.worldaswefeelit.hss.ed.ac.uk/videos/

See also a recent talk (to the Royal Society of Medicine) on hybris:

https://videos.rsm.ac.uk/video/hubris-in-classical-myth-and-morality