James Ker

Professor of Classical Studies

263 Claudia Cohen Hall
Office Hours: 
Spring 2023: Wednesdays, 12.00-1.30, from Feb. 8 (or by appointment)


B.A. (Hons.) in Classics and Linguistics, University of Canterbury (1994)

M.A. in Greek, University of California, Berkeley (1996)

Ph.D. in Classics, University of California, Berkeley (2002)

In my teaching and research I am concerned, broadly speaking, with the cultural history of the Roman world, both in antiquity and in its reception. The two specific topics on which I've focused most continuously are Seneca (as author and cultural figure from antiquity to the present day) and Roman conceptions of time (including receptions in the modern "daily life" genre). My main focus at present is a book with the working title "The Ordered Day: Quotidian Time and Forms of Life in Ancient Rome". The project is concerned with the significance that Romans ascribed to the act of ordering the day, especially in ancient culture-histories and in first-person literary accounts of daily life; and, equally, with how modern interpreters of Rome have used the diurnal framework as a showcase for representing Roman culture. I have ongoing projects on Seneca, Latin literature, and pedagogy in Greek and Latin. I have been privileged to collaborate with colleagues on a couple of recent volumes on Elizabethan Seneca and Valuing the Past. I also edit a series for Johns Hopkins University Press entitled "Cultural Histories of the Ancient World".

Research Interests: 

Imperial Latin Literature, Ancient Philosophy, Anthropology of Roman Culture, Reception Studies, Language Pedagogy

Selected Publications: 

The Deaths of Seneca (Oxford University Press, 2009)

A Seneca Reader: Selections from Prose and Tragedy. Bolchazy Carducci Latin Readers series (Mundelein, Ill., 2011)

Elizabethan Seneca: Three Tragedies, co-edited with Jessica Winston, in Modern Humanities Research Association Tudor & Stuart Translations, vol. 8 (London, 2012)

Valuing the Past in the Greco-Roman World, Penn-Leiden Colloquia on Ancient Values proceedings, co-edited with Christoph Pieper (Brill, 2014)

 The Values of Nighttime in Classical Antiquity: Between Dusk and Dawn, Penn-Leiden Colloquia on Ancient Values X, co-edited with Antje Wessels (Brill, 2020)

Courses Taught: 

(undergraduate) CLST 301 Ancient Dialogue Workshop; CLST 204/504 Classical Studies and Philadelphia Schools

(graduate) GREK 540 The Greek Text; LATN 541 Latin Literary History; CLST 403 Postbaccalaureate Latin

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