Elmer, David Franklin

Academic Positions



Harvard University

Associate Professor of the Classics 2012-present

Assistant Professor of the Classics 2007-2011


Harvard University

PhD, Comparative Literature June 2005

Harvard University

MA, Comparative Literature June 2002

Harvard University

BA, Classics, summa cum laude June 1998



The Poetics of Consent: Collective Decision-Making and the Iliad. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.

Articles, Chapters, Reviews

“Homer,” “Iliad,” “Odyssey,” The Virgil Encyclopedia, eds. R. Thomas and J. Ziolkowski, Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell (forthcoming).

“Building Community across the Battle-Lines: The Truce in Iliad 3 and 4,” Maintaining Peace and Interstate Stability in the Greek World, ed. J. Wilker, Berlin: Verlag Antike (forthcoming).

With A. Bonifazi: “The Meaning of Melody: Remarks on the Performance-Based Analysis of Bosniac Epic Song,” Child's Children: Ballad Study and Its Legacies, eds. J. Harris and B. Hillers, Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier (forthcoming).

With A. Bonifazi: “Composing Lines, Performing Acts: Clauses, Discourse Acts, and Melodic Units in a South Slavic Epic Song,” Orality, Literacy and Performance in the Ancient World, ed. E. Minchin, Leiden: Brill, 2011, pp. 89-109.

 “Oral-Formulaic Theory,” The Homer Encyclopedia, ed. M. Finkelberg, Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, pp. 604-607.

Kita and Kosmos: The Poetics of Ornamentation in Bosniac and Homeric Epic,” Journal of American Folklore 123, no. 489 (2010), 276-303.

“Presentation Formulas in South Slavic Epic Song,” Oral Tradition 24.1 (2009), 41-59.

Epikoinos: The Ball Game episkuros and Iliad 12.421-3,” Classical Philology 103.4 (2008), 414-22.

“Heliodoros’s ‘Sources’: Intertextuality, Paternity, and the Nile River in the Aithiopika,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 138.2 (2008), 411-50.

Review of Todd M. Compton, Victim of the Muses: Poet as Scapegoat, Warrior and Hero in Greco-Roman and Indo-European Myth and History (Washington D.C., 2006), Journal of Indo-European Studies 36.1-2 (2008), 190-95.

Review of Zymer Ujkan Neziri, Studimi për folklorin I (Prishtinë 2006), in ibid., pp. 295-98.

“Helen Epigrammatopoios,” Classical Antiquity 24 (2005) 1-39.

Lectures, Talks, and Presentations

“Consensus and the Constitution of the Iliadic Tradition,” Conflict and Consensus in Early Greek Hexameter Poetry, Durham University, Durham, UK, July 2, 2012.

“Poetry’s Politics in Greek Epic and Lyric,” 26th Annual Lord and Parry Lecture, Center for Studies in Oral Tradition, University of Missouri, March 13, 2012.

“The Metamorphosis of a Folktale: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses,” Grimm Legacies, Harvard University, February 4, 2012.

“Collective Decision-Making and the Iliadic Tradition,” Department of Classics, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, October 10, 2011.

“The Hero in Greek Epic,” guest lecture for Gen Ed 30 Cluster Course “Neverending Stories: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Myth,” UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, October 10, 2011.

With A. Bonifazi: “Multimodality of Text Organization in a Serbo-Croatian Epic Performance,” 12th International Pragmatics Conference, Manchester, UK, July 7, 2011.

“Milman Parry: 75 Years After,” Roundtable Discussion, American Philological Association Annual Meeting, San Antonio, Texas, January 8, 2011.

“The Narrow Pass of Language: Homeric Poetry’s Testing of Formulaic Epithets,” American Philological Association Annual Meeting, San Antonio, Texas, January 7, 2011.

With Susanne Ebbinghaus: “Story and Image in Ancient Greece,” Two-Point Perspective Gallery Talk, Sackler Museum, Harvard University, December 8, 2010.

With A. Bonifazi: “Visuality in South Slavic and Homeric Epic,” Singers and Tales in the 21st Century: The Legacies of Milman Parry and Albert Lord, Harvard University, December 4, 2010.

Respondent on panel “Logos kai Tekhnê,” Athens Dialogues, Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens, Greece, November 25, 2010.

“‘It’s Not Me, It’s You, Socrates’: The Problem of the Charismatic Teacher in Plato’s Symposium,” Martin Weiner Lecture, Brandeis University, November 10, 2010.

With A. Bonifazi: “Composing Lines, Performing Acts: The Relationship Between Melodic Units, Clauses, and Discourse Acts in a South Slavic Epic Song,” Orality and Literacy in the Ancient World IX, Canberra, Australia, June 30, 2010.

“Pragmatics and the Study of Bosnian Epic,” University of Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina, March 19, 2010 (delivered via Skype).

“Orestes Laskos’ Daphnis and Chloe (1931),” Embassy of Greece, Washington, DC, December 10, 2009.

“The Treaty in Iliad 3 and 4,” Maintaining Peace and Interstate Stability in the Greek World (Harvard Humanities Center Symposium), Harvard University, May 9, 2009.

“Achilles and the Crisis of the Exception,” MACTe (Massachusetts and Connecticut Junior Faculty Forum), Yale University Department of Classics, May 2, 2009.

With A. Bonifazi: “The Meaning of Melody: Remarks on the Performance-Based Analysis of Bosniac Epic Song,” Child’s Children: Ballad Study and its Legacies, Harvard University, December 2008.


“Pantomime and the Novel,” 4th International Conference on the Ancient Novel, Lisbon, Portugal, July 2008.

“Milman Parry and Homeric Studies.”  Harvard Summer Program in Olympia, Olympia, Greece, July 14, 2008.

“Međedović and Vlahovljak, Stesichorus and Homer: Competing Notions of Truth in Bosniac and Ancient Greek Epic Traditions,” The Return of the Song: The Milman Parry Collection and Its Reception in the World, Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 2008.

“From Homer to the Balkans,” SAS Honors Colloquium, Rutgers University, February 6, 2008.

“Homeric Exceptions,” Humanities Center New Faculty Lunch, Harvard University, March 22, 2007.

“Managing Discourse Through Appeal to the Listener in South Slavic Epic Song,” International Conference on Advances in Oral Literature Research, University of Belgrade, Serbia, November 2006.

“The Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature: Digital Resources for Teaching and Research,” Workshop on the Use of Technology in Teaching and Learning at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, May 2006.

“Herodotus, Nilotic Inquiries, and the Search for a Father in Heliodorus’ Aithiopika,” Department of the Classics, Harvard University, January 17, 2006.

“Consensus and the Constitution of Tradition: The Iliad’s Politics of Reception,” Department of Classics, University of California, Santa Barbara, January 31, 2005.

“Consensus and the Constitution of Tradition,” Classics Department, University of Oregon, January 20, 2005.

 “The Milman Parry Collection of South Slavic Oral Tradition at Harvard,” Modern Language Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, December 2004.

“The Albanian Songs of the Milman Parry Collection: Publication and its Significance for Albanology, Ethnography, and Ethnomusicology” (co-authored with Nicola Scaldaferri).  Poster presentation at the 20th European Seminar in Ethnomusicology, Venice, Italy, October 2, 2004.

 “Parry and Lord: Theories and Methods,” Department of Anthropology, Università degli Studi della Basilicata, Potenza, Italy, June 14, 2004.

“The Economy of Desire in Plautus’ Asinaria,” American Philological Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, January 2004.

“Marko and Marx: Numismatic Issues in the Serbian Epic Cycle,” New England Conference on Foreign Languages and Literatures, Hartford, CT, October 2003.

Awards and Fellowships

Roslyn Abramson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, 2011

Junior Fellow, Harvard Society of Fellows, 2005-2008

Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, 1999-2000


Presentation topic: Consensus, Collective Decision-Making, and the Shaping of the Iliad: Ancient Greek Reflections on Sustaining Epic Tradition