Graduate Program Director
Office: SOC 213
PhD, Classical Studies, Indiana University, 2005
MA, Classical Studies, Indiana University, 1998
MA, History, Indiana University, 1996
I teach a variety of undergraduate and MA level courses on the cultural, social and political history of Ancient Rome. I am interested in propaganda and the formation of ideology and explore these through lenses of gender, ethnicity and piety. Consequently my courses encourage students to consider these issues through a variety of evidence, including literary, inscriptional, artistic and numismatic media.
In every level of instruction, I ask students to read critically a variety of evidence, undertake critical analysis even of problematic evidence and to articulate their arguments and interpretations both orally and in writing. I accomplish this in the lower level courses by providing the evidence to the students to analyze, but in the upper-level courses, students learn how to find their own evidence. They also begin to read modern scholarly literature. In the seminars, I demand that students use not just literary sources, which are relatively easy to find, but also material evidence i.e. epigraphic, numismatic, artistic and/or archaeological evidence.
Because I believe research to be what differentiates a mediocre college experience from an excellent one, I conduct undergraduate research each summer with 5-7 students. To date, I have worked with over 20 undergraduate researchers to construct the databases of the Severan Database Project. Students gain a familiarity with the evidence by entering and proofing data in these databases from which they build their own research projects. My students have competed in the last three USF Undergraduate Research Symposia and each time they have swept the top honors in the Humanities. See the winners of the 2011 Research Symposium by clicking here.
In addition to working on the USF Campus, I also live here at Juniper-Poplar Hall. I have been the faculty in residence for the last two years and during that time, I have developed the "So You Wanna Be" Series in which I bring together students and professionals who are doing the jobs they want to do. Thus far, I have brought in a variety of engineers, doctors, forensic anthropologists, psychologists and attorneys. When the local Fox affiliate asked to interview me about the origins of Valentine's Day, I agreed to do so only if they would take my mass comm and broadcast journalism students on a tour of the studio: See the Valentine's Day interview here. The series has been a big hit and resulted in several internships for freshmen students. In order to meet and mingle with the over 1,000 residents at JPH, I regularly visit pod kitchens to bake cookies. No matter how shy the students, the smell of the cookies will entice them out of their rooms. All this is done as a part of the university's commitment to student success. Studies have shown that freshmen have a far higher chance of staying in school if they interact with faculty outside of class. The past three years I have lived the student experience and I am convinced that I'm a better teacher because of it. Read an article about my experience at JPH here.
My research is concerned with self-presentation and identity formation in the Roman Empire, particularly in terms of ethnicity, social status, gender and religion. Identities are the result of complex negotiations between the self and the community in which one lives and moves. They are fluid, prone to manipulation and distortion in order to suit the agenda of those who create them. Ideologies – agreed upon truths concerning the past, present and future – are constructed in part from individual and corporate identities and in part by political, social, economic and religious agenda. My research examines both the personal and the corporate constructions of identity and ideologies. To date, I have focused this research on the Severan dynasty that ruled Rome from the late 2nd to mid-3rd Centuries CE, but I am expanding my investigations to consider a broader time period and populations outside the Imperial Palace.
Negotiating Masculinity, Ethnicity and Felicitas in Severan Rome. This book explores the self-presentation of the four Severan emperors especially with respect to their masculinity, ethnicity and their special relationships with the gods (felicitas). Each Severan emperor radically redefined the categories in his own way. The second half of the book explores the response to these redefinitions by important populations in the empire.
The Empress, The Archaeologist and Me. This project explores the different interpretations of Julia Domna and her role in Severan propaganda as presented in my own work and in Doris Mae Taylor’s 1945 Indiana University Thesis.
“Privileging the Liminal: Caracalla’s Outside-In Imperial Strategy” (will be under review as of September 2011)
“Crossing Swords: Commodus, Cassius Dio, the Evil Eye and the Politics of Spectacle” (will be under review by December 2011)
Gender, ethnicity and religion in the Roman Empire; Roman literature and material culture, especially art and coinage