Undergraduate Research

Lexi Trikoulis '20

OUR Featured Researcher: Lexi Trikoulis '20

Portrait of Lexi Trikoulis
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones

Lexi Trikoulis (she/her) is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellow (MMUF) and a Classics and Creative Writing major. She is conducting mentored research under Professor Kirk Ormand. Her project is titled "Women and Magic in Classical Athens".

Please describe your research: 

The purpose of this research is to examine the relationships among magic usage, power, and women’s voices within Classical Athens through a focus on material and literary evidence. Although magic was portrayed as a woman’s craft among the Athenians, the physical evidence of women using magic is limited. Despite this, the evidence that is present can serve as a compelling tool to better understand what women actually wanted or needed through their own voices, rather than the onslaught of Greek men writing and speaking for women. My aim is to determine what women used magic and when, and how it served to grant women power or fulfill their needs. I will do so by examining surviving curse tablets commissioned or made by women, court cases regarding women using love potions, tragedies, and poetry. My work is in dialogue with scholars such as Christopher Faraone, Esther Eidinow, Sarah Isles Johnston, and Kimberly Stratton. My research shows that women use magic in many contexts and for a variety of purposes which augment their power and autonomy within their daily lives, as well as clarifies the pattern of negative Greek attitudes towards women using magic.

Why is your research important?

Women in Ancient Greece are generally a voiceless group, with very few exceptions. Magic is a way to look at what women wanted directly, instead of being told by Greek men what they did or should want, and begin to piece together a clearer voice for them and understand the lives they led.

What does the process of doing your research look like?

It’s a lot of reading and translating. I read textual evidence and analysis by other scholars in the field, and work to translate certain things, like the texts of material evidence and tragedies, from Ancient Greek to English.

In what ways have you showcased your research?

I have presented my research five times over the past year and a half, twice at the Mellon Mays Midwest Regional Conference.

How did you get involved in research? What drove you to want to seek out research experiences in college?

Participating in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship is what kickstarted my research. Without the program and cohort's support, resources, and encouragement, I doubt I would've had the means or confidence to pursue research as fullheartedly as I have.

What is your favorite part about engaging in this work?

I love discovering new, strange things!

How has the research you’ve conducted contributed to your professional or academic

Doing research has helped me discover that it's something I'd love to do as a career.

What advice would you give to a younger student wanting to get involved in research in
your field?

Don't be afraid! If there is a topic that you're passionate about, pursue it!

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