I work on mainly on Roman ideas about communication, aesthetics, and political action, especially as they hold (in my opinion) ongoing relevance for the modern world. I started my study of classical literature and culture at Middlesex School, where I currently serve on the board of trustees, and continued at Princeton (1991) and the University of Pennsylvania (PhD 1997). I taught at the University of Washington and at Stanford before coming to NYU in 2004.
In recent years, I've put my interest in governance into practice by serving as Director of Honors for the College of Arts and Science at NYU, then as Director of the Morse Academic Plan, NYU's required liberal arts curriculum, and now as Dean for the Humanities. Each fall I spend a week or two on the island of San Servolo at the Venice International University, as a member of the Advanced Seminar in Classics and Ancient Near Eastern Studies -- hence the image of San Marco above. I spent the spring term of 2012 in Wassenaar near the Hague, where I was a fellow at the NIAS, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, whose icon is the owl of Athena. When I can, I hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. And while his artistic practice bars me from putting up an image of his work, I have greatly valued my work for and in the pieces of Tino Sehgal, recent winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Bienniale.
I've been active in the American Philological Association: I'm was recently elected to the Board of Directors, and in the past I've co-chaired the Nominating Committee and chaired the Committee on the Status of Women and Minority Groups. My most popular publication--certainly I get the most feedback about it--is my handbook "Going on the Market," which guides graduate students and junior PhDs through the process of applying for jobs and post-doctoral fellowships. Though this work is time-consuming, the insight I've gained into the workings of academia, both the university and the state of the profession, has been invaluable.
My first book, The State of Speech: Rhetoric and Political Thought in Ancient Rome, was published by Princeton in 2007; the second book, The Life of Roman Republicanism, also from Princeton, is forthcoming later this year (2014). I have grown intensely interested in the role of aesthetic experience in the formation of political judgment, the place of dissent in various institutions committed to the preservation and dissemination of knowledge, and the representation of ethical choice in Roman rhetorical education and the law. Some day soon I hope to marry my interest in opera and twentieth century art (especially minimalism) to this scholarly interest: I made a small stab at this with a piece on Vergil's Eclogues about ten years ago.
I write book reviews for various classics and politics journals and the Times Literary Supplement, and in the past I've reviewed for The Nation, The Women's Review of Books, and the New York Times Book Review. My interest in changing views on individual rights, security, and the law led me to write an introduction to Wilkie Collins’ nineteenth century classic detective novel The Moonstone.
My undergraduate teaching has included courses on ancient political theory, Roman cultural identity and intellectual history, and a MAP course called "Texts and Ideas: The Deliberating Citizen,” which features readings in Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, Locke, 17th century English radicals, Kant, John Dewey, Frantz Fanon, Hannah Arendt, and others. I've developed the habit of teaching one film each year in "Texts and Ideas," most recently Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and John Ford's classic Westerns Stagecoach and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, starring John Wayne. Recent graduate courses have tackled imperial Latin literature, Greek and Roman rhetoric, Latin pastoral poetry, and Roman political thought.
These days the access of non-wealthy citizens to the parts of civic space where political decisions get made, including but not limited to the electoral process, is much on my mind. I would like to edit a book on the contemporary role of the liberal arts in educating democratic citizens, and the Occupy Wall Street actions of 2011 and student debt activism have convinced me that this project must address issues of class and costs. Other further-in-the-future projects include a book on pastoral and another on the emergence of Athens as an ideal transnational state. My work on classical reception in general seeks to contribute to our understanding of the development of Classics as a discipline in the early modern period and beyond -- especially (circling back to where I began) its relationship to rhetoric, aesthetics, and politics.