Steven D. Smith
Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Languages
Degrees: PHD, 2004, Boston Univ; BA, 1996, Hobart/William Smith Coll
I received a BA in Ancient Greek and English literature from Hobart College in 1996. I received my PhD in Classical Studies from Boston University in 2004.
My training is in philology, the study of ancient languages as a means of understanding the culture and history of antiquity. Though my interests range widely from Homer and archaic Greek poetry to the literature of late antiquity and early Christianity, my scholarly work focuses on Greek narrative prose of the classical and Roman imperial periods, especially the ancient novel. This literature, more than any other from antiquity it seems, reflects contemporary anxieties relating to gender, sexuality, and the complex relationship between private and public. It is important to understand ancient texts as linguistic artifacts from their particular place and time of production, but in both my scholarly activity and in my teaching, I want to show how these texts are relevant to our own lives.
At Hofstra, I teach the Greek and Latin languages at all levels, with the goal of allowing students to read works like Virgil’s Aeneid and Plato’s Symposium in their original languages. I also teach ancient literature in translation. These courses include, among others, The Ancient Novel, Ancient Epic, Greek Tragedy, and Alexander the Great: Fact & Fiction. I also participate in the Honors College team-taught course, Culture & Expression, and in Hofstra’s new program in LGBT Studies.
My book, entitled Greek Identity and the Athenian Past in Chariton: The Romance of Empire (Barkhuis & Groningen University Library), about the first extant novel in Western literature, was published in 2007.