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Maas and Talbert have previously co-directed three NEH Summer Seminars, all at the American Academy in Rome: Representing Geography and Community in the World of Imperial Rome (2000); Trajan’s Column: Narratives of War, Civilization, and Commemoration in the Roman Empire (2006); Communication, Empire, and the City of Rome (2012).

Michael Maas (Rice University, Houston, TX) is a historian of the ancient world whose award-winning teaching, research and publications focus primarily on Late Antiquity, the period which the Institute addresses. Notably, his Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila (2015) casts new light on the integration of the world of the Steppes with European affairs in the course of the fifth century. At present he is completing with our expert visitor Nicola Di Cosmo Empires and Exchanges in Late Antiquity: Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppes, ca.250-750 (forthcoming 2017). For 2015-16 he served as Director of Byzantine Studies at Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks Library and Research Center in Washington, DC. Excavating experiences and extensive travel have made him familiar with the landscapes within which the work of our Institute is set.

Richard Talbert (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC) is a migrant from England to the United States via Northern Ireland and Canada. He too is an ancient historian, one whose interests in Roman imperial government and in spatial awareness diverge from those of Maas, but mesh with them most productively. The comprehensive college-level textbook The Romans from Village to Empire which he took a lead in planning and writing with our visitor Mary Boatwright is used nationwide. He has also taught with her, as well as with UNC colleagues Kathryn Burns and Lisa Lindsay, experts on the pre-Hispanic Americas and West Africa respectively. Talbert directed a five-week NEH Summer Institute Changing Perspectives on the Early Roman Empire at UNC in 1991.

Visiting Speakers

Mary Boatwright is professor of ancient history in Duke University’s Department of Classical Studies, author of Peoples of the Roman World, and an outstanding interpreter of the historical and cultural significance of Roman artwork.

Nicola Di Cosmo is a permanent member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ. He specializes in East Asian Studies, and has published extensively on the early history of China’s relations with steppe nomads and on Mongol and Manchu history. He is currently exploring innovative scientific approaches utilizing proxy data from climatology and other paleosciences in the study of early modern China.

Patrick Geary is also a permanent member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ. A prominent medieval historian, he is currently leading a project that studies the migration of European societies through DNA analysis in Hungarian and Italian cemeteries.

Thomas Parker, professor of history at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, specializes in Roman history and archaeology, especially the Roman Levant. He has participated in several archaeological projects, and is particularly interested in work on the frontier.

Paul Roberge, professor of Germanic languages at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has rare expertise in historical Germanic linguistics, invaluable for the work of the Institute. His research interests include sociolinguistics and the origin and evolution of human language.

Caroline Rocheleau is Curator of Ancient Art at the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, and a specialist in Egyptian and Nubian art and archaeology.

Susan Stevens, professor of classics at Randolph College, Lynchburg, VA, specializes in combining her training as a classical philologist with her research as an archaeologist. She has directed excavations at Carthage and Lamta (Tunisia), about which she has published numerous articles and books.


Alexandra Locking, Graduate Assistant, is a medieval history PhD candidate in UNC’s Department of History, anticipating completion next year.

Contact Information

Michael Maas, Co-Director
Phone: 713.348.2264

Richard Talbert, Co-Director
Phone: 919.962.3942

Alexandra Locking, Graduate Assistant
Phone: 276.492.7190

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