About the Department
Instruction in Classics has been offered since the foundation of the University of Chicago. In the summer of 1892, the University's first President, William Rainey Harper, hired Paul Shorey as Professor of Greek from Bryn Mawr College and William G. Hale as Professor of Latin from Cornell University. Harper himself, though primarily a scholar of Hebrew, taught classes in both Greek and Latin. 1906 saw the inauguration of Classical Philology, a quarterly journal devoted to research in the languages, literatures, history, and life of classical antiquity and one of the oldest Classics periodicals in the United States. The first issue, under the managing editorship of Edward Capps, carried an obituary of Harper alongside one of Sir Richard Jebb and articles by William Scott Ferguson, Alfred Körte, Elmer Truesdell Merrill, Frank Gardner Moore, and John Williams White. The Editor and Associate Editors of the journal continue to be appointed from Classics faculty members at Chicago.
A number of distinguished scholars have served on the faculty throughout the Department's history, including Arthur Adkins, R.J. Bonner, Blanche Boyer, Oscar Broneer, Benedict Einarson, Werner Jaeger, Gordon Laing, Richmond Lattimore, Richard McKeon, Carl Roebuck, Gertrude Smith, and George Walsh. In keeping with the University of Chicago's interdisciplinary mission, research into Greek and Roman Antiquity has also been conducted by faculty beyond the Department, such as Carl Darling Buck, Professor of Comparative Philology and the author of one of the most seminal studies of the Greek dialects, J.A.O. Larsen, author of Greek Federal States and Professor of Greek History in the History Department, and the Italian historian and historiographer Arnaldo Momigliano, who held a visiting appointment in the Committee on Social Thought.
Today, the Department of Classics at the University of Chicago offers a series of unique educational programs that combine a strong and rigorous tradition in philological training with cutting-edge theories and methodologies in literary criticism, cultural poetics, philosophy, social, economic and cultural history, classical art and archaeology, and the history of religion. In recent years, the expansion of our faculty and programs has made available to both undergraduate and graduate students exciting and sophisticated approaches to antiquity as well as solid training in fields such as palaeography, linguistics, papyrology, epigraphy and numismatics. Members of the Classics Faculty have earned distinguished accolades, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities; no fewer than three faculty members - Clifford Ando, Jonathan Hall and Peter White - have received the Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit from the American Philological Association for the most significant books published in the field of Classics in the United States. But faculty are as committed to teaching as they are to research: Shadi Bartsch and Christopher Faraone have both been recipients of the University's Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching while Shadi Bartsch, Helma Dik, Jonathan Hall, James Redfield (twice) and Peter White have all been honored with Quantrell Awards, believed to be the nation's oldest prize for undergraduate teaching.
Interdisciplinarity continues to be the key to the teaching mission of the University of Chicago. In addition to a Ph.D. in Classical Languages and Literatures, the Department also offers two further Ph.D. tracks. The first, in the Ancient Mediterranean World (previously administered by the Committee on the Ancient Mediterranean World, established by Arthur Adkins and James Redfield in 1979), draws on faculty resources not only in Classics but also in the Departments of Anthropology, Art History, History, and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, the Committee on Social Thought, the Divinity School, and the Oriental Institute. The second, in Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy, is the result of a collaboration between the Departments of Classics and Philosophy. In addition, the Department sponsors three graduate workshops (Ancient Philosophy; Ancient Societies; and Rhetoric and Poetics), which draw their respective constituencies from academic units across the University.
At the undergraduate level, the Classics Department offers a number of prizes and awards to allow students to pursue their academic interests further, whether at libraries or institutions in or beyond the United States or in the context of research trips to the Mediterranean and Near East. The Department also staffs and provides academic direction for the Undergraduate College's Study Abroad Programs in Athens and Rome.