Margaret Alexiou is engaged in research that is both diachronic within Greek culture (literature, folklore, history) and across different cultures (Balkan, Celtic, African-American). Her first book, Ritual Lament in Greek Tradition (Cambridge University Press, 1974), now being translated into Greek and soon available in a new English edition (translators and editors: Panagiotis Roilos and Dimitrios Yatromanolakis), deals with the poetic forms and ritual practices of the lament from antiquity to the present day.

Her current book, After Antiquity: Greek Language, Myth and Metaphor (Cornell University Press: f.c.), examines changing forms of language, myth and metaphor in relation to Byzantine and modern Greek literary texts, folk tales and folksongs; explores new definitions of ritual, drawing on the disorder of autism as well as on Greek sources.

She has also published monographs and articles on Byzantine literature (sixth to twelfth centuries), on Cretan Renaissance poetry and drama, on the poetry of C.P. Cavafy, and on modern Greek prose fiction.

Her next projects include: a bilingual critical edition of four humorous twelfth-century poems; a bilingual and illustrated Anthology of Greek wondertales, with introduction and annotations; a memoir of her father, George Thomson, based on letters and unpublished papers compiled and edited in collaboration with her mother, Katherine Thompson.