Winter HIST 2A; HIST 213A (mapping social networks); Freshman Seminar (Constantine the Crusader)
Spring HIST 112D (Late Antiquity); HIST 213B (213A cont’d); HIST 201E (Historiography of the Fall of Rome)
I study the intersection of religion and philosophy with Roman politics, as well as the process of “conversion” in Late Antiquity. My latest book, A Threat to Public Piety: Christians, Platonists, and the Great Persecution (Cornell 2012), explores the interactions of Platonist philosophers and Christian theologians in the period leading up to the Great Persecution of AD 303-11. My new research explores the questions surrounding the emperor Constantine’s move to become sole emperor. Why was his grasp of the West and the Balkans stable enough to allow him to move east (even though the Gallic empire had been a breakaway regime)? To what extent can the material culture of Gallia Belgica help scholars understand how people there might have responded to Constantine’s self- presentation? Increasingly in my research, I am interested in exploring the relevance of theories of identity formation and cultural entanglement first used by historians to study the southwest US borderlands. **If you are interested in pursuing graduate work with me, please contact me directly through email.**
Research and Teaching Interests:
Research: Roman Religion in Politics and Thought in the 3-5C CE
Teaching: The History of Rome and its empire from the founding of the city through Late Antiquity; History of Christianity
Constantine, the Sun and the Serpent: The Roots of the First Crusade—This project takes seriously Lactantius’ insinuation in the Divine Institutes’ apocalyptic Book Seven that Constantine is the incarnation of the heavenly king foretold in Revelation. It puts that and other contemporary views of Constantine, Christian and “pagan,” including the emperor’s visions of himself as the incarnation of Apollo and the instrument of God, in dialogue with local interests in Gaul, Italy, Africa and the Balkans, including what I can glean from local material culture. The book will thus help readers see the extent to which Constantine appealed to a constituency beyond committed Christians, but also how the emperor’s theology and politics diverged from the orthodox, episcopal view so dominant in our sources.
Collaboration and Community: Motives for Religious Conflict–This project studies the relationship between perceived collaboration during the Great Persecution (303-11) and charges of heresy in its aftermath. Focusing on Donatism in North Africa (usually categorized as a schism) and “Arianism” which originated in Alexandria, Egypt, but dominated the eastern Mediterranean for much of the fourth century, I’m exploring the extent to which ostensibly religious conflict has its roots in political, economic, regional and social differences.
A Threat to Public Piety: Christians, Platonists and the Great Persecution. Cornell University Press, 2012.
The Making of a Christian Empire: Lactantius and Rome. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000. Paperback, released 2012.
The Rhetoric of Power in Late Antiquity: Religion and Politics in Byzantium, Europe and the Early Islamic World, ed. with Justin Stephens, R. M. Frakes. London: I. B. Tauris, 2010.
Religious Identity in Late Antiquity, R. M. Frakes and Elizabeth Digeser, edd. Toronto: Edgar Kent, 2006.
Articles and Book Chapters (past five years)
“The Education of Constantine (Formazione di Costantino).” In Costantino il Grande: Alle radici dell’Europa, Enrico dal Colvolo and Guilia Gasparro Sfameni, edd. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2014), 137-149.
“Persecution and the Art of Writing between the Lines: De vita beata, Lactantius, and the Great Persecution,” Revue Belge, 92 (2014): 167-185.
“The Edict of Serdica: Why Has It Been Ignored?” For Serdica Edict (311 AD): Concepts and Realizations of the Idea of Religious Toleration. Vesselina Vachkova and Dimitar Dimitrov, edd. (Sofia: Tangra TanNakRa Publishing House, 2014), 15-28.
“Exegesis and Identity among Platonist Hellenes and Christians,” in Philosophy and the Abrahamic Religions: Scriptural Hermeneutics and Epistemology, Torrance Kirby, ed. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2013), 45-56.
“Hellenes, Barbarians, and Christians: Religion and Identity Politics in Diocletian’s Rome,” in R. Mathisen and D. Shanzer, edd. Shifting Frontiers VI (Surrey: Ashgate, 2011), 121-132.
“The Late Roman Empire from the Antonines to Constantine.” For The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity, Lloyd Gerson, ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 1:13-24.
“Philosophy in a Christian Empire: From the Great Persecution to Theodosius I.” For The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity, Lloyd Gerson, ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 1:376-96
“From Constantine to Justinian.” For The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity, Lloyd Gerson, ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 2:585-607.
“Origen on the Limes: Rhetoric and the Polarization of Identity in the Late Third Century.” In The Rhetoric of Power in Late Antiquity: Religion and Politics in Byzantium, Europe and the Early Islamic World, ed. idem with Justin Stephens, R. M. Frakes (London: I. B. Tauris, 2010), 197-218
“Methodius and Porphyry.” Studia Patristica 46 (2010), 21-26.
“The Power of Religious Rituals: A Philosophical Quarrel on the Eve of the Great Persecution,” in N. Lenski and A. Cain, edd., The Power of Religion in Late Antiquity (Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity, VII) (Ashgate, 2010), 81-92.
“The Usefulness of Borderlands Concepts in Ancient History: The Case of Origen as Monster.” For John W. I. Lee and Michael North, edd., European and American Borderlands: An Innovative Approach. University of Nebraska Press. In press.
“Lactantius on Religious Liberty and His Influence on Constantine,” in Christianity and Freedom: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, edd. Timothy Samuel Shah and Allen D. Hertzke. Cambridge, University Press, in press.
HIST 2A: Introduction to World History (Ancient): syllabus
HIST 112A: Roman Imperialism (founding to mid-Republic)
HIST 112C: Disaster & Reform (3-4C CE)
HIST 112D: Late Antiquity
HIST 114A: History of Early Christianity to 800 CE
201E: Advanced Historical Literature (topics vary: Roman Imperialism, Roman Revolution, Late Empire, Late Antiquity)
213AB: Research Seminar in Roman History (recent topics: Religious Violence in the Ancient World, Ephesus as a Borderlands Community, the Ancient City)
Honors and Professional Activities:
2015: UCSB Crossroads Grant (with Profs. James Brooks, Mary Hancock, Stuart Smith and Greg Wilson)
since 2014: Area Editor for the Oxford Classical Dictionary (online), Christianity.
2011: UC Humanities Research Institute, Ancient Borderlands Multi-Campus Research Grant.
since 2010: Director of the California Consortium for the Study of Late Antiquity
2008: UCSB Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award (for 2007-2008)
2008: Member, Advisory Board for the Journal of Early Christian Studies
2004: McGill University History Students Association Award for Excellence in Teaching.
2003-2006: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Standard Research Grant