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James Wells

Assistant Professor of Classical Studies

As a locus of civic engagement, experiential learning, cross-disciplinary intellectual exploration, and community-building, the Prindle Institute epitomizes DePauw University. Membership on the Prindle Institute Advisory Committee presents the opportunity to serve the university in ways that promote social responsibility and citizenship. In my research I confront ideological positions and predispositions in classical philology and in the reuses of the cultural artifacts of ancient Greece and Rome. As first-generation college graduate from a working-poor family who is a member of an academic and professional field with a past history of exclusion and elitism, I approach teaching Classical Studies as a matter of universal access to discovery and self-fashioning. The American Philological Association recently held a fundraising campaign entitled, “Gatekeeper to Gateway”; I say, “No gates.” In addition to such ethical concerns in my scholarship and teaching, I am also a poet, so that I bring an artist’s point of view to my role on the Prindle Institute Advisory Committee.
My first book, Pindar’s Verbal Art (Center for Hellenic Studies/Harvard University Press, 2009), is an ethnographic study of speech and performance in Pindar’s (518-438 B.C.E.) victory songs for ancient Greek athletes. My second book is a poetry collection, Bicycle (Sheep Meadow Press, 2013). Prior to teaching at DePauw University, I taught Classical Studies at the University of Idaho, Grand Valley State University, and Hamilton College.