Roger Bagnall

Professor of Classics and History, Columbia University


September 28
Informal Writing in a Public Place: the Graffiti of Smyrna
2050 Valley Life Science Building

October 5
The Ubiquity of Documents in the Hellenistic East
2040 Valley Life Science Building

October 12
Documentary Silences and the Archaeological Record: the Case of Slavery in Ptolemaic Egypt
2040 Valley Life Science Building

October 19
Greek and Coptic in Late Antique Egypt
2040 Valley Life Science Building

October 26
Greek and Syriac in the Roman Near East
2040 Valley Life Science Building
2040 Valley Life Science Building

November 2
Writing on Ostraka: a Culture of Potsherds?
2040 Valley Life Science Building

All lectures begin at 8:10 pm. The public is invited.

More about Roger Bagnall and his Sather Lectures

The 92nd Sather Professor is Roger Bagnall, Professor of Classics and History at Columbia University. Bagnall received his B.A. in Classics from Yale University in 1968, graduating summa cum laude with exceptional distinction as Scholar of the House. From Yale he moved to the Classics program at the University of Toronto, from which he received his M.A. in 1969. He completed his Ph.D. thesis in 1972 (published in 1976 as The Administration of Ptolemaic Possessions Outside Egypt). After two years as an assistant professor at Florida State University, Bagnall joined the Classics faculty at Columbia (1974). In 1979, he was promoted to Associate Professor of Classics and History and, in 1983, to Professor. From 1989 to 1993 he served as Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and in the final year of this post was Deputy Vice President for Arts and Sciences as well. He is a recent recipient of a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2004).

Professor Bagnall is an internationally acknowledged leader in the field of papyrology, arguably the greatest papyrologist (in the broadest understanding of that discipline) that the Americas have ever produced. One could attempt to make this case on the basis of his extraordinary productivity, but his real impact stems, of course, from the quality of his scholarship. All Professor Bagnall's research is distinguished by its remarkable thematic and chronological breadth, its engagement with fields of knowledge beyond the discipline, and its resolute commitment to historical synthesis. Witness 1993's magisterial Egypt in Late Antiquity; or the pioneering Demography of Roman Egypt (1994, with Bruce Frier); or 1995's Reading Papyri, Writing Ancient History, which should be required reading for editors of texts and ancient historians alike. Professor Bagnall acts as a brilliant ambassador for the discipline of papyrology, for he makes its difficult and fragmentary texts relevant, even compelling, to a broader audience. An innovator and an organizer, Professor Bagnall has played a pivotal role in the creation and development of important papyrological institutions, e.g., the American Society of Papyrologists and the Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS), the first digital union catalogue of papyri. He is a founder of the International Workshop for Papyrology and Social History, a working group whose membership continues to redefine the content and methods of the discipline. Bagnall's interest in and patronage of the work of graduate students and younger scholars is renowned within the field and will be manifest here at Berkeley in the conference "Papyrology: New Directions in a New Generation" that he will host on November 11-12. The $1.5 million Mellon Award he received in 2004 has only served to expand the scope of his generosity; its beneficiaries, individuals and institutions too numerous to name, cover the globe from America to Europe and the Middle East.

In his Sather Lectures, Professor Bagnall examines "everyday writing" in a broad sense: the results not of elite literary efforts or (as with most inscriptions) of public display, but of the ubiquitous use of writing by a much wider part of the population. He applies new approaches to the role of texts and writing in Graeco-Roman society and pays close attention to the actual products of ancient writing technologies as archaeological artifacts with contexts. He also explores how we should interpret the silences of the written record, particularly in the use of Greek alongside the indigenous languages of the Near East. In addition to delivering these lectures, Professor Bagnall is teaching a graduate seminar on the Christian book.