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MemberBryan Lowe

I specialize in East Asian religions with a focus on Buddhism in ancient Japan (seventh through ninth centuries). In the most general terms, my research challenges elite-centered narratives that have dominated scholarship on Japanese Buddhism and religious studies more broadly. In contrast, I study Buddhism as it was lived and practiced by individuals and communities from diverse backgrounds. My research and teaching are interdisciplinary; I engage scholarship in history, art history, literature, political science, and book history to explore issues related to ritual studies, material culture, and religion and the state. My first book, Ritualized Writing: Buddhist Practice and Scriptural Cultures in Ancient Japan , examines the ritual practice of transcribing Buddhist scriptures (sutras). It questions the standard historical narratives of Japanese Buddhism, which have focused exclusively on the ways the state regulated and utilized religion for ideological purposes in the eighth century. Instead, I highlight the activities of individuals from a range of social classes and geographic regions in Japan to show that Buddhist practice was not limited to the throne and fulfilled a variety of social, political, and spiritual roles beyond ideological justification of imperial rule. The book introduces and translates a large number of previously unstudied archival sources in manuscript form, including scriptorium documents and colophons. It argues for a practice-based approach to ritual and reassesses scripture as a category constructed in part through ritual practices. My second book project focuses on provincial preaching in the ninth century. It considers the social and institutional networks that enabled Buddhism to flourish in ancient Japan, as well as the homiletic strategies and particular doctrines taught on the ground in local communities. It aims to overcome the “great man” approach that has dominated the study of early Heian-period (794-1185) Buddhism with most scholarship to date focusing on two esteemed monks, Kūkai (774-835) and Saichō (767-822). In contrast, my project explores the religious life of the nameless masses living and preaching in provincial villages using both manuscript and archaeological data. In addition to these book projects, I have published in English and Japanese on a variety of other topics including the  nature and structure of East Asian Buddhist canons, nineteenth- and twentieth- century debates over the state’s position relative to religion, sutras produced in China, and the religious practices of scribes and patrons. I teach undergraduate and graduate students in courses on Japanese religions, mythology, Zen, Buddhism and literature, and theory and method. I completed my undergraduate studies at Middlebury College in Vermont with a double major in Japanese and Religion. After graduating, I spent two years in Japan as a Coordinator for International Relations on the JET program in Nagano prefecture. I did my graduate work at Princeton University and was a research fellow at Otani University in Kyoto from 2010-2011. I have also had extended stays in other parts of Japan including Yokohama, Nagoya, and Himeji. I have received generous support for my research from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright IIE, Japan Foundation, Vanderbilt University Research Scholars Grant, the International College for Postgraduate Buddhist Studies (Tokyo), and others. My 2012 dissertation won the  Stanley Weinstein Prize awarded to the best Ph.D. dissertation on East Asian Buddhism written in North America during the two previous years. I also edit an online  Guide to Shōsōin Research, where I blog about the Shōsōin. Interviews about my first book can be found in the Authorial Intentions podcast by Chris Benda and on the New Books Network with Luke Thompson.

MemberTeresa Marie Hooper

I teach and study the entire Medieval and Early Renaissance periods, but I specialize in Early Medieval Literature with a focus in Early Medieval England, medieval manuscripts, and a little Late Antiquity for good measure. My areas of interest for teaching and research purposes include (but often wander outside of): Early English codicology; Old English language and literature; memory studies; LA/medieval cultural geography, cosmography, and travel narratives; LA, medieval, and Early Modern ethnography and exploration; early Latin saint’s lives; Latin texts in English translation; monsters and teratology; Chaucerian dream poems; Renaissance poetry; and Ancient to modern drama. My current research interests include the textual and codicological history of the Beowulf-Manuscript (London, BL Cotton Vitellius A.xv, part 2), the earliest Latin St. Christopher legend, and the OE and Latin versions of Orosius’ History against the Pagans. 

MemberDaniel Knitter

Hi! I am a postdoc at the Physical Geography unit of Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel. Since my Master I work with prehistoric and classical archaeologists in different research projects mainly in central Europe, Greece, and Turkey. Together we investigate human-society-landscape-environment interactions. My main methodological tools are quantitative spatial analyses using models as heuristic devices. Besides landscape archeology, I am interested in (critical physical) geography, reproducible research, philosophy of science, inter-, and transdisciplinarity.

MemberMark Letteney

I joined Princeton’s Program in the Ancient World in 2014 after receiving a MAR in the History of Christianity from Yale University and degrees in Religious Studies and Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My interests cluster around Christians in the later Roman Empire, book history, legal history, and the history of epistemology. My dissertation approaches Christianization from a new angle: not the Christianization of people, but of structures of knowledge. In it, I trace changes to documentary practice and readerly expectations across technical literature from the late fourth through the middle of the fifth century CE. I explore late antique scholarly productions ranging from Christian theological tractates and conciliar acta to Roman juristic writings and authoritative legal compendia, military handbooks, grammatical treatises, and the Palestinian Talmud in order to explore the ways that imperial Christianity inflected the production of truth even in domains that do no constructive theological work. Bishops, rabbis, and jurists in the Theodosian era produced definitive statements of sophisticated intellectual traditions with startlingly similar forms, and I argue that all are best understood as products of a considerably unified, and novel, book culture that arose in the peculiar Theodosian moment. I am co-director of the Solomon’s Pools Archaeological Project, and a field archaeologist with the Jezreel Valley Regional Project, where I  focus on excavation of the Roman 6th Legion “Ferrata” castra in Legio, Israel. I am a fellow of the American Academy in Rome (FAAR’19) and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. In fall 2019 I will be a Visiting Scholar in the Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Antichità of La Sapienza University, Rome, and I will spend spring and summer of 2020 in Athens as the Oscar Broneer Traveling Fellow of the American School of Classical Studies. My curriculum vitae is available here.

MemberRobin Whelan

I am currently Lecturer in Mediterranean History at the University of Liverpool. I am a cultural historian of late antiquity and the early middle ages. My research and teaching focus on the later Roman Empire and its early medieval successors, with a particular interest in issues of religious diversity, social identity, ethnic communities, and political culture. My first book, Being Christian in Vandal Africa (University of California Press, 2018) is about the consequences of church conflict in post-Roman Africa (modern-day Tunisia and Algeria). My current project considers how Christian ideology reshaped the representation and practice of governance in late antiquity. Before coming to Liverpool in January 2018, I was Hulme Humanities Fellow at Brasenose College, Oxford and The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (2014-2018), and a temporary Lecturer in Early Medieval History attached to various Oxford colleges (2016/17).

MemberFaith Hillis

I am an historian of modern Europe and Russia, with a special interest in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century politics, culture, and ideas. My work explores how Russia’s peculiar political institutions—and its status as a multiethnic empire—shaped public opinion and political cultures. It also interrogates Russia’s relationship with the outside world, asking where the Russian experience belongs in the broader context of European and global history. In addition, I am interested in the theory and practice of the digital humanities. My first book, Children of Rus’: Right-Bank Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation, was published by Cornell University Press in 2013. ( See http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/?GCOI=80140100088630). Children of Rus’ argues that it was on the extreme periphery of the tsarist empire—a region that today is located at the very center of the independent nation of Ukraine—that Russian nationalism first took shape and assumed its most potent form. The book reconstructs how nineteenth-century provincial intellectuals came to see local folk customs as the purest manifestation of an ancient nation that unified all the Orthodox East Slavs, and how they successfully propagated their ideas across the empire through lobbying and mass political mobilization. Rather than documenting the advance of “national awakenings” on the imperial periphery, Children of Rus’ highlights the flexibility and contingency of national collectives; it reveals the surprising role that men whom we today would identify as ethnic Ukrainians played in the creation of Russian nationalism as well as the unwitting contributions that Russian nationalists made to other nation-building projects that would ultimately challenge the primacy of their movement. In addition, Children of Rus’ offers a bold reconceptualization of state-society relations under tsarism, showing how residents of a diverse and contested peripheral region managed to shape political ideas and identities across Russia—and even beyond its borders. In the book that I am currently researching, Europe’s Russian Colonies: Politics, Community, and Modernity across Borders, my abiding interest in politics, culture, and ideas takes a new direction. A study of the diverse yet close-knit settlements of tsarist émigrés that sprung up in western Europe’s large cities, university towns, and spa resorts over the long nineteenth century, this book provides the first synthetic history of pre-1917 traffic between Russia and Europe. Placing familiar themes in imperial history in an international context, it treats Europe’s “Russian colonies” as incubators of new ideas, cultures, and identities that ultimately traveled back to Russia via literature, correspondence, and return migration. Europe’s Russian Colonies also argues that these unique urban communities shaped the larger societies in which they were located in consequential ways. The “Russian colonies” and their residents played important roles in the articulation of liberal dreams of universalism and freedom. Yet by the late nineteenth century, as they became breeding grounds for radical ideas on both the left and the right, they began to present new challenges to western Europe’s liberal-parliamentary order. My current research is enriched by technology, and I am interested in thinking through how historians can use digital tools to open new avenues for exploration and to communicate their findings to other scholars and the general public. I am particularly interested in using geo-spatial analysis to analyze flows of people, ideas, and commodities over time and across space. For examples of my (ongoing) work in digital mapping, see my Europe’s Russian Colonies (http://worldmap.harvard.edu/maps/6120) and  Publishing the Russian Empire Abroad (https://public.tableau.com/profile/publish/PublishingtheRussianEmpireAbroad/Languagebycity#!/publish-confirm) maps. I have held research fellowships at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute and at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, and have been awarded grants from ACLS, IREX, Fulbright-Hays, and NCEEER, among others.

MemberRebecca Kennedy

I work on issues of identity formation processes in Classical Athens and, increasingly, the broader Mediterranean. My primary interests are on imperialism and issues of foreignness, geography, environmental determinism theories and the relationship between such theories and the history of race and ethnicity. I have also published on the intersections of gender, ethnicity, and citizenship in Classical Athens. I run a blog called “Classics at the Intersections” that focuses on issues of race/ethnicity and gender/sexuality in antiquity at their modern receptions. I also maintain there a database of syllabi and modules for teaching race and ethnicity in classical antiquity and a continually growing bibliography on the same subject.