Ph.D, 1990, The Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University
M.A., 1985, The Divinity School, Duke University
A.B., 1983, Duke University
I am the inaugural holder of the William M. Suttles Chair in Religious Studies, as well as the Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies, here at Georgia State University. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but came south for my education, where I attended Duke University and majored in Physics for three years, intending to be an oceanographer, before shifting to Comparative Religion in my Senior year. The concentration for my doctoral studies was in the area of religion, ethics and politics, with special emphasis on classical literature and philosophy.
I first worked on an excavation of Herod’s Winter Palace outside of Jericho, Israel as an undergraduate, and have extensive archaeological experience in Greece, mostly on the island of Crete.
In support of our curriculum in Archaeology, Comparative Religion, Cultural and Historical Anthropology, and Museum Studies, the courses in my general rotation include:
- Is Art the New Religion? (1000-level)
- Greek Mythology (2000-level)
- Introduction to the Study of Religion (3000-level)
- Biblical Literature (3000-level)
- Founders and Foundations: Case Studies in Christian Formation (4000/6000-level)
- Early and Medieval Christianity (4000/6000-level)
- Religion and Sexuality: From Sappho to Foucault (4000/6000-level)
- Christian Ethics in 20th Century America (4000/6000-level)
- Comparative Religious Ethics (4000/6000-level)
- Democracy, Secularism and Religion (4000/6000-level)
- Tragedy and Comedy in Cultural Theory (4000/6000-level)
- Film Culture, Morality and Modernity (4000/6000-level)
- The Archaeology of the Olympics (4000/6000-level)
- Cultures of Display: Archaeology, Museums and Modern Nationalism (4000/6000-level)
- The Concept of Origins (8000-level)
I also offer specialized seminars on Hegel, Nietzsche, Foucault, Jeffrey Stout and Cornel West.
My work covers a broad range of topics with ethical and/or political importance, but most of what I do encompasses historical studies of the appropriation of Greek themes in a number of subsequent historical periods, especially the Early Modern period. I interrogate this classical legacy in areas that range from ethical and political theory (especially democratic theory), psychology and sexuality (especially theories of the erotic), to drama and film (especially theories of tragedy and the tragic). For the past twelve years, I have been a Research Fellow at the Vatican Library and the Vatican Secret Archives, where I have extended these research interests to include Aesthetics and the emergence of the Early Modern conception of Art, as well as the privileging of classical art as embodied in that preeminent Modern institution, the Vatican Museum.
I am also mindful of the role that institutions play in the work of ethics and politics. In late November 2006, a team of Atlanta narcotics police served a No-Knock warrant at the home of 92-year-old Ms. Kathryn Johnston, who was shot and killed when they entered her home and fired 39 times. An FBI investigation revealed that the facts on the original search warrant application were falsified; three officers were charged with various civil rights violations. I was a juror at one officer’s trial in May of 2008. In 2013, I published Policing the State, inspired by work on radical democratic theory from Jeffrey Stout and Cornel West. The book offers a narrative meditation, not just on the conditions of that case, but on the unintended consequences of new policing technologies and quantitative assessment protocols. Since it became clear in the ensuing years that this case was an important premonition of the conditions that gave rise to the #Black Lives Matter movement, I prepared a second edition of the book in 2015 with a new Afterword entitled “Policing the State After Ferguson.”
One aspect of my scholarly commitments that was changing at this same time was its more explicit humanism. This was partly a response to the so-called crisis of the Humanities in higher education, but it had more to do with my increasing sense that the value of human lives and individualities is increasingly at risk in our accelerated version of Late Modernity. It is easy to feel powerless in the face of such abstractions as the Market or the State. Inspired by Stout’s and West’s work on grass roots organizing and the ethical importance of moral exemplars, I have devoted most of my energy in the past decade to writing books about people: Johann Joachim Winckelmann (2011), Antoine Chrysostome Quatremère de Quincy (2014), Father Matthew Kelty (2018) and Anne Carson (2020). Naturally, the story of these people’s lives carry larger implications regarding the times in which they lived as well as the remarkable body of work, and in some cases even the institutions, that they left behind.
My recent books include:
Winckelmann and the Vatican’s First Profane Museum (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011).
Classics at the Dawn of the Museum Era: The Life and Times of Antoine Chrysostome Quatremère de Quincy (1755-1849) (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).
Policing the State: Democratic Responses to Police Power Gone Awry, in Memory of Kathryn Johnston (1914-2006), 2nd Edition, with a new Afterword, “Policing the State After Ferguson” (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2015).
Report on the Aeginetan Sculptures with Historical Supplements, by Johann Martin Wagner and Friedrich Schelling (Albany, NY: State University of New York [SUNY] Press, 2017).
An Elemental Life: Mystery and Mercy in the Work of Father Matthew Kelty, OSCO (1915-2011) (Collegeville, MN: Cistercian Publications of Liturgical Press, 2018).
Reach without Grasping: Anne Carson’s Classical Desires (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).
Some relevant shorter publications include:
“The Agony of Inclusion: Historical Greece and European Myth,” Arion, Third Series 24.1 (2016): 65-86.
“Finding and Losing One’s Way: Eros and the Other in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy,” in Sarah LaChance Adams, Caroline Lundquist and Christopher Davidson, eds., New Philosophies of Sex and Love: Thinking Through Desire (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), 15-34.
“Winckelmann and the Vatican’s Museo Profano: The Documentary Evidence,” Arion, Third Series 25.2 (2017): 81-117.
“We Never Got the Joke: Comedy and Tragedy in Modern Politics,” Arion, Third Series 25.1 (2017): 173-211.
“Cornel West and the Tragedy at the Heart of North American Pragmatism: A Retrospective Look at The American Evasion of Philosophy,” American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 38.2-3 (May-September 2017): 179-200.
“Who Owes What to Whom? Some Classical Reflections on Debt, Greek and Otherwise,” Arion, Third Series 26.1 (2018).
“Bringing Capital to its Senses: French Iterations of Marxist Themes,” in Grant Farred, ed., The New Centennial Review 18.3 (2018): 97-116
Thomas F. Strasser, Sarah Murray, Alexandra van der Geer, Christina Kolb, Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., “Paleolithic Cave Art from Crete, Greece,” Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 18 (2018): 100-108
“Romantic Receptions, or, The Aegina Marbles’ Long March to Munich,” in Sandra Blakely and Billie Jean Collins, eds., The Archaeology and Anthropology of Ancient Worlds (Atlanta, GA: Lockwood Press, 2019), 359-388
“Sport Matters: On Art, Social Artifice and the Rules of the Game, or, The Politics of Sport,” in Vicki Rapti, ed., Ludics: Play as Humanistic Inquiry (New York, NY: Palgrave Press, 2020) forthcoming
“Myths, Marvels, Monsters: Cosmopolitan Mixing on Crete in the Homeric Bronze Age,” in Nikolaos Stampolides, Athanasia Kanda, Anagnostis Agelarakis, Anastasia Tzigounaki, and Mimika Giannopoulou, eds., Κρήτη-Κύπρο-Αιγαίο και Έξω Κόσμος III/ Crete-Cyprus-Aegean and Outside World III (Rethymnon, 2020), 304-316