I am a UVM alumnus and joined the UVM faculty in 2000. Before attending UVM as an undergraduate I apprenticed in Germany as a post-and-beam carpenter and later earned my Ph.D. in Classics at The University of Chicago. For a profile of me and my work in Tableau, the magazine of The University of Chicago’s Division of Humanities, click here. For an interview with me with La pensée écologique, click here.
I became a member of the Geography faculty in 2021 and am also a faculty member in The Environmental Program, the Food Systems Graduate Program and an affiliate of the Gund Institute for Environment. I teach a variety of courses about the ancient world and in environmental studies. I have also taught in the Liberal Arts Scholars Program (LASP), the Teacher-Advisor Program (TAP), and the Honors College. In 2013 I traveled to Ulaanbaatar on a Fulbright to draft the Humanities curriculum for the then newly formed American University of Mongolia. I also have close ties with Chancellor College at the University of Malawi in Zomba, where I served as a visiting professor in 2010-2011 and as an external examiner in 2015.
I specialize in the ancient Mediterranean world, particularly the languages, literatures, and cultures of Greece and Rome. My interests include orality studies, ancient ecologies, and ancient philosophy. I am also deeply interested in the reception of classical texts in modern works of art, music, and literature. My book Plato’s Pigs and Other Ruminations: Ancient Guides to Living with Nature (Cambridge University Press, 2020) traces modern ideas about sustainability and systems science back to their origins in antiquity, on which topic also I teach a course: “Sustainability: A Cultural History.” (See here, here and here for more information.) Since 2018, I have been overseeing research and a UVM internship in archaeology, paleobotany, sustainable agriculture, and food systems in Italy’s Sabine Hills. (See a video précis of this work, The Roman Villa Project, here.)
In addition to publishing books and articles about the ancient world, I have written two opera libretti (for text, music, and video see here ) and children’s books. Non-academic pursuits include carpentry (I built my own house and outbuildings) and farming (my wife Caroline and I own and operate Works & Days Farm in Shoreham, where we produce lamb, eggs, and maple syrup on 125 acres). My experiences with farming have come to fruition recently as an anthology of texts translated from Greek and Latin about country living: How to Be a Farmer: An Ancient Guide to Life on the Land (Princeton University Press, 2021).