William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature
I graduated from Swarthmore college in 1971, with a major in Greek; I earned my M.A. in Classics at Stanford and my Ph.D. in Classics at Yale. My academic background might make it look as if I had dedicated myself to this field from an early age, especially since I began both Latin and Greek in secondary school. In fact, however, it was some years before I felt at home as a classicist. I majored in Greek, but minored in Psychology. I went to graduate school in Classics, but took courses in Linguistics and Comparative Literature. It wasn’t until I came to Haverford and started actually teaching that I realized that for all my doubts and my diverging interests I had ended up doing just what I loved best: talking with other people – both colleagues and students -- about books and how we read them, and teaching the languages that further open up the worlds of literature.
I teach in both the department of Classics and the program in Comparative Literature, and this is a happy combination for me: I think of myself as a student and teacher of language and literature who has a particular but not exclusive interest in Greek and Latin texts and their afterlife. I teach Greek and Latin from the elementary level through advanced literature courses; I also teach courses that are comparative in nature and look beyond ancient Greece and Rome to the later literary tradition, exploring (for example) the history of literary theory, the development of the conception of the tragic, the varieties of intertextual relationship between Greco-Roman literature and other literatures, and the theory and practice of translation. I also teach Haverford’s only course on children’s literature.
B.A., Swarthmore College
M.A., Stanford University
Ph.D., Yale University
My earlier research was concerned largely with Greek tragedy, and especially with the ways in which plays tell their stories and how they achieve (or complicate, or undercut) a sense of closure at the end. This interest led to my co-editing (with Francis Dunn and Don Fowler) a collection of essays, Classical Closure: Reading the End in Greek and Latin Literature (Princeton 1999). More recently, I’ve been working on aspects of the reception and translation of ancient literature in the twentieth century. I am currently collaborating with Sheila Murnaghan (University of Pennsylvania) on a book about childhood and the reception of Classics and am investigating the translation into English of obscenity in Greek and Latin literature. Recent publications include: translations of Euripides' Andromache (Chicago 2013) and Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound (Hackett 2012); "Afterword: Concealment Concealed," in S. Harrison and C. Stray, eds. Expurgating the Classics: Editing Out in Greek and Latin" (Bristol: Bristol Classical Press 2012); "Reading Antigone in Translation: Text, Paratext, Intertext," in S.E. Wilmer and A. Zukauskite, eds. Interrogating Antigone: From Philosophy to Performance (Oxford: Oxford U. Press 2010); “Water-Jug and Plover’s Feather: Rudyard Kipling’s India in Rosemary Sutcliff’s Roman Britain,” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 2010, special issue on “India, Greece, and Rome, 1757-2007”, E. Hall and P. Vasunia, eds.