Barack Obama and the Lessons of Antiquity

April 17, 2009

 

Robert Garland (Colgate University), Walter Nicgorski (University of Notre Dame), Charles Pazdernik (Grand Valley State University), and Kelli Rudolph (Grand Valley State University) participated in the first panel of the Hauenstein Center’s conference, “Barack Obama and the Lessons of Antiquity.”


Dr. Pazdernik, associate professor and chair of classics at Grand Valley State University, earned his B.A. at Cornell University, M.Phil. at the University of Oxford, and M.A. and Ph.D. at Princeton University. He won the Pew Teaching Excellence Award in 2005 and he is a junior fellow at Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies. He has authored and edited several books.

Kelli Rudolph, assistant professor of the classics at Grand Valley State University, earned her A.B. at Princeton, and her M.Phil and Ph.D. from University of Cambridge. She teaches ancient philosophy and science, as well as Presocratics an their influence on Hellenistic philosophy.

Dr. Robert Garland, director of the Division of the Humanities at Colgate University and professor of the classics, received his B.A. from Manchester University (1969), M.A. from McMaster University (1973), and Ph.D. from the University College London (1981). His teaching is on Ancient history and the classics, with special emphasis on Greek religion, Greek urban development, Greek society and social values, and Athenian topography.

He is author of several books, including “Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks” (1998), “The Eye of the Beholder” (1995), “Religion and the Greeks” (1994), and “The Greek Way of Life” (1990).

Jeremy McInerney (University of Pennsylvania), Tracy Lee Simmons (Hillsdale College), and Carl Richard (University of Louisiana-Lafayette) participated in the second panel of the Hauenstein Center’s conference, “Barack Obama and the Lessons of Antiquity.”

Dr. McInerney is associate professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania and chair of the Graduate Group in Ancient History. He earned his B.A. from Macquarie University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He is an award-winning teacher on the ancient world, and author of numerous articles. His book is “The Folds of Parnassos: Land and Ethnicity in Ancient Phocis” (1999).

Mr. Simmons is director of the Herbert H. Dow II Chair in Journalism and lecturer in journalism at Hillsdale College. He earned his B.A. from the University of Cincinnati and his M.A. in language and literature from the University of Oxford. He teaches on journalism, history, and writing.

 

Dr. Richard is professor of History (Ph.D., Vanderbilt University, 1988) at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. His research and teaching focus on early national American history and U.S. intellectual history. He has authored several works, including Twelve Greeks and Romans Who Changed the World (2003), The Founders and the Classics: Greece, Rome, and the American Enlightenment (1994), The Classical Roots of the U.S. Congress: Mixed Government Theory in Inventing Congress: Origins and Establishment of the First Federal Congress (1999), A Dialogue with the Ancients: Thomas Jefferson and Classical Philosophy and History in Journal of the Early Republic (1989), and The Shadow of a Plan: The Rationale Behind Wilsons 1918 Siberian Intervention in The Historian (1986).

Bruce Thornton, classicist and professor at California State University, Fresno, gave the morning keynote address in the Hauenstein Center’s conference, “Barack Obama and the Lessons of Antiquity.” He presented a paper on President Obama’s foreign policy, “Diplomacy and Appeasement: Philip II of Macedon and the Loss of Greek Freedom.”

Dr. Thornton, a native of Fresno County, received his B.A. in Latin from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Ph.D. in comparative literature (Greek, Latin, and English) from UCLA in 1983.

He is the author of numerous essays and reviews on Greek culture and civilization and their influence on Western civilizations, and also has written on contemporary political and educational issues. His writings have appeared in The National Review Online, Heterodoxy, The National Herald, Arion, The San Francisco Examiner, The American Enterprise Magazine, The University Bookman, Religious Studies Review, Intercollegiate Review, The Washington Times, Los Angeles Times, Helios, and the American Journal of Philology.

Thornton is the author of numerous books, including “Searching for Joaquin: Myth and History in California” (2002); “Bonfire of the Humanities. Rescuing the Classics in an Impoverished Age,” with John Heath and Victor Davis Hanson (2001); “Greek Ways. How the Greeks Created Western Civilization” (2000); “Plagues of the Mind: The New Epidemic of False Knowledge” (1999); and “Eros the Killer: The Myth of Ancient Greek Sexuality” (1997).

Thornton is a frequent guest on talk radio shows across the nation, has lectured at venues such as The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., and appears regularly on ABC’s “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher.” He is a regular contributor to the popular conservative Web site www.CaliforniaRepublic.org, commenting on societal trends, cultural issues and news events.

Dr. Nicgorski, professor in liberal studies at the University of Notre Dame, received his B.A. from Georgetown University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He is a classically trained political theorist whose primary interests are the political thought of Cicero, that of the American founding, the theory and practice of moral and liberal education and contemporary democratic theory impacted by Christianity. His articles on Cicero, liberal and character education, the American founding, Leo Strauss, and Allan Bloom and other topics have appeared in journals such as Political Theory, Interpretation, and the Political Science Reviewer. He co-edited An Almost Chosen People: The Moral aspirations of Americans (1976) and Leo Strauss: Political Philosopher and Jewish Thinker (1994). Nicgorski is the former editor of The Review of Politics. He has directed NEH summer seminars on the texts of Cicero. He has held a Lilly Endowment faculty fellowship, as well as research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Bradley Foundation, and the Earhart Foundation.

Dr. Fears is David Ross Boyd Professor of Classics at the University of Oklahoma, where he holds the G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty. Professor Fears earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University and is a fellow of many distinguished organizations, such as the American Academy in Rome, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. His research has been supported by institutions such as the American Philosophical Society and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Before taking his post at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Fears held teaching positions at Indiana University, where he rose from assistant professor to full professor, and Boston University, where he served as Chair of the Department of Classical Studies. Professor Fears is the author of four books, including The Cult of Virtues and Roman Imperial Ideology, and has published a three-volume edition of Selected Writings of Lord Acton, the great British historian of liberty. He has also published more than 100 articles and reviews, and other writings on ancient history, the history of liberty, and the lessons of history for our own day.

President Barack Obama ran for office promising to catalyze change in America. Yet, any American president is going to operate in the context of much continuity: of thought, of habit and tradition, of political process. The founding fathers of President Obama’s government inherited much from antiquity and from the old world. His challenge will be to enact change in the midst of overwhelming continuity.

Questions About the Founders & Antiquity