Teaching

MIT HSSP
June—August, 202
1

What do we mean when we call something “tragic”? What are the parts that make up a tragedy, and how do they work? Where did tragedy even come from, anyway? This course will explore and interrogate the form, function, and substance of classical Athenian tragedy. We’ll read selections in English from Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides, and discuss the plays in their social, historical, and literary contexts. In addition, we’ll consider the reception of Greek tragedy in post-classical literature up to the modern day.

MIT HSSP
June—August, 202
1
Co-taught with Nadav Elata


This course is an introduction to the art of writing game modules for tabletop roleplaying games, primarily focusing on the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Over the course of six weeks, we will read a number of pre-written adventure modules, learn to think critically about the design of adventures, and learn the principles of storytelling that make for fun gameplay. The course will culminate in each student writing their own adventure, which we’ll discuss in class as well.

MIT HSSP
June—August, 2020

Co-taught with Kit Pyne-Jaeger

The science fiction and horror genres are a major part of contemporary English-speaking culture, but where did they come from? This course will attempt to answer that question, as we take a deep dive into British and American writings on the fantastical and the terrible through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, often referred to collectively as “weird fiction.” We’ll start with Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” frequently described as the first science fiction novel; and we’ll end with the works of H.P. Lovecraft, the so-called “father of American horror.” Along the way, we’ll examine the influence of socio-political, economic, and historical developments on these texts, as well as the contributions to genre fiction of the more “literary” movements of modernism, decadence, and Romanticism.

MIT HSSP
June—August, 2020

This course will be a very broad overview of the genre of Roman historical epic: that is, epic that concerns itself with the story of the Roman past. We’ll read selections in Latin from Ennius’s Annales, Vergil’s Aeneid, Ovid’s Fasti and Metamorphoses, and Lucan’s Pharsalia, complemented with English readings from various other ancient sources. Special attention will be paid to the problems of genre, the influence of actual Roman history on our texts, and in-detail analysis of the Latin. About half the class time will be devoted to translation, and the other half to discussion.

H12539: The Amazing History of Rome

MIT Splash
November 17—18, 201
8

What do you picture when you think of Roman history? Grand battles, stunning betrayals, dashing generals, and brave gladiators, perhaps? Come and hear stories about all these things and more! This course is a short introduction to the history of Rome, spanning from its foundation by Romulus to the deposition of the last emperor. In addition to history, we will also touch on ancient Roman life, literature, philosophy, religion, and the sources we have that tell us what the world was like back then.

H1251: Dante in Context

MIT Splash
November 17—18, 201
8

Have you ever wondered about Dante’s Inferno? What is it? When and why was it written? Who are all the people mentioned in it, like Virgil, Guido Cavalcanti, Odysseus, and Nitokris? Who is this Dante guy, anyway? Come find out in this course! We will discuss who Dante was, the literary traditions his work built off of, and the historical, political, social, and philosophical contexts of Inferno and the larger Divine Comedy.