Constructing 'Literacy' Among the Greeks and Romans


Barbara Burrell. University of Cincinnati. Widely published in Roman archaeology and numismatics, B. has recently focused on a variety of topics in which she explores the relations among texts, images, and site. Her recent book, Neokoroi: Greek Cities and Roman Emperors, was published by Brill in 2004.

Joseph Farrell. University of Pennsylvania. His Vergil's Georgics and the traditions of ancient epic : the art of allusion in literary history (Oxford 1991) established F. early on as an important voice in analysis of cultural poetics in Rome. His most recent contribution is the magisterial Latin language and Latin culture : from ancient to modern times (Cambridge 2001).

Simon Goldhill. University of Cambridge. Author or co-author of over a dozen books, G. is a leading voice among Classicists in performance criticism and questions of cultural history. Recent books include Who needs Greek? : contests in the cultural history of Hellenism (Cambridge 2002) and two important edited volumes, Performance culture and Athenian democracy (Cambridge 1999) and Being Greek under Rome : cultural identity, the Second Sophistic, and the development of empire (Cambridge 2001).

Thomas Habinek. University of Southern California. In a half-dozen books and many articles, H. has established himself as a leading voice in construction of Roman cultural history, with focus on both essentialist and contextualist questions. In important recent work, he has written extensively about the relationship between writing and society: The politics of Latin literature : writing, identity, and empire in ancient Rome (Princeton 1998); The world of Roman song : from ritualized speech to social order (John Hopkins 2005).

George W. Houston. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. With broad research interests in Latin epigraphy and Roman technology, H. has spent the last twenty years making himself the world expert in ancient libraries and book collections. Aspects of his data collection and strategy of analysis have come forth in articles and conference papers, including an important recent article in TAPA (2002); his book on the ancient library is eagerly awaited.

William A. Johnson. University of Cincinnati. J. has been working on the topic of books, readers, and reading in antiquity for almost 20 years. His close study of the artefactual evidence, Bookrolls and Scribes in Oxyrhynchus, focused on the book-as-object; in recent years, J. has turned attention towards broader issues of the sociology and culture of reading. His article, “Towards a Sociology of Reading in Classical Antiquity” (American Journal of Philology 121), won the 2001 Gildersleeve Prize, and sketched a work plan that will see fruition in a book scheduled to appear from Oxford University Press in 2007 (Readers and Reading Culture: The Sociology of Reading in the Early Roman Empire).

Kristina Milnor. Barnard College, Columbia University. K. has taken on a large-scale project that reexamines the Pompeian graffiti in their material context, with close attention to literary and cultural constructions. Her book, Gender, domesticity, and the age of Augustus: inventing private life, was published by Oxford University Press in 2005.

David R. Olson. University of Toronto. Of the almost two dozen books to his name, The World on Paper: the conceptual and cognitive implications of writing and reading (Cambridge 1994) is the most famous. O., not a Classicist, writes often and influentially on the question of ancient scripts and literacy. He is the founder of, in effect, a "school" of constructivist thinking that explores the relationship between cognitive science and the construction of literate culture.

Holt Parker. University of Cincinnati. P. has published broadly and widely in the criticism of Latin literature, including important work in gender studies and performance criticism. His 2003 book, Olympia Morata: The complete writings of an Italian heretic (University of Chicago), won the Josephine Roberts Award.

Rosalind Thomas. Oxford University. Among her many publications, the following have established T. as a central figure in the scholarship of literacy in Greece: Oral Tradition and Written Record in Classical Athens (Cambridge 1989), Literacy and Orality in ancient Greece (Cambridge 1992), Herodotus in context : ethnography, science and the art of persuasion.

Peter van Minnen. University of Cincinnati. With almost a hundred articles and several books, v.M. has established himself as one of the leading young papyrologists in the world. Among his several specialty interests are ancient books, in regard to which he has published i.a. the important article, monograph in size, "Boorish or bookish? Literature in Egyptian villages in the Fayum in the Graeco-Roman period" (JJP 1998).

Peter White. University of Chicago. Promised verse : poets in the society of Augustan Rome (Harvard, 1993) was a landmark study of the social context for poets and poetry in Rome, and winner of the Charles J. Goodwin award of merit from the American Philological Association. Among his many publications are seminal articles on the poetic profession as it was practiced and seen in ancient society.

Greg Woolf. University of St Andrews. A prominent Roman cultural historian and archaeologist, W. has published widely on various topics regarding the Roman construction of identity, with particular attention to the ways in which text and material culture intersect in the formation of that identity. His recent book, Becoming Roman. The Origins of provincial civilization in Gaul appeared from Cambridge University Press in 1998. W. with Alan Bowman edited the important contributory volume, Literacy and Power in the Ancient World (Cambridge 1994). W. also wrote the article on "Literacy" for the Cambridge Ancient History (2000).