Professor of Classical Studies; Department Chair
Affiliated with Department of World Languages & Literatures
James Uden researches and writes about Latin literature and the transformation of ancient ideas in later eras, especially the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He has published essays on a broad range of topics, including Catullus, Virgil, love elegy, travel literature, and ancient fable. His first book, The Invisible Satirist: Juvenal and Second-Century Rome (Oxford, 2015; paperback 2018), offers a new interpretation of the poems of Juvenal, showing how these texts responded to changing conceptions of Roman identity and contemporary trends in Greek rhetoric and philosophy. His second book, Spectres of Antiquity: Classical Literature and the Gothic, 1740-1830 (Oxford, 2020) explores the work of British and American novelists of the eighteenth century. The Gothic novel, he argues, marked a distinctive break in visions of classical antiquity, rediscovering the ancient world as a shadowy precursor to the horrors of the present day.
Professor Uden is currently working on two new book projects, which were inspired by a period of study in the Medical Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Practice program at the Boston University School of Medicine. The first book, tentatively entitled Heroic Vulnerability, is an analysis of the human body in Roman epic from Virgil to late antiquity. The body politic in Latin epic, he argues, is surprisingly fragile, but the vulnerability of the epic hero becomes a paradigm for understanding the need for individuals to forge bonds with one another. The second book, Medicine and Literature in Ancient Rome, will offer an overview of the interlocking history of medicine and the Muse in Latin literature. Both of these projects have been funded by a prestigious New Directions grant from the Mellon Foundation.
Professor Uden is passionate about teaching, and in 2016 he won the Gitner Award for Distinguished Teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences [link here]. At Boston University he teaches courses in Roman cultural history (“The World of Rome”, “The History of Medicine in Greece and Rome”), intermediate and advanced Latin language and literature, and in the Core Curriculum (“Late Antiquity and the Medieval World”). He has delivered public talks at BU on various aspects of daily life in ancient Rome, and has lectured in the Core on Homer and Virgil. He welcomes inquiries from prospective students relating to his interests or about the graduate program in Classical Studies.
Latin literature, esp. poetry; the Gothic; medicine and the humanities; travel writing.
The Invisible Satirist: Juvenal and Second-Century Rome (Oxford University Press, 2015)
‘The Smile of Aeneas’, TAPA 144 (2014) 71-96.
‘Love Elegies of Late Antiquity’, in B. Gold (ed) A Companion to Roman Love Elegy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).