My research interests lie broadly in intellectual history and ancient religion, though I have also published on ancient medicine. To be less vague, I am interested in conceptions of death and the afterlife, martyrdom, and most things North African. I am writing a monograph tentatively entitled The Politics of Time in Augustine’s Confessions and Late Antique North Africa on Augustine’s views on memory and time in the Confessions and how they respond to the religious politics of Augustine’s immediate world in Numidia.

I first came to Augustine as a philosopher in the Augustine Lectio organized by UMass Amherst, Cornell, and UVM. While examining his curious statement that time is a “swelling of the mind” (distentio animi) in Book 11 of the Confessions, I became increasingly convinced that, to understand what this means, one must consider it in light of the space he conceives memory to be in Book 10 and both time and memory in light of the narrative project of the Confessions as a whole. That was my dissertation. Since then, I have increasingly seen the context of Augustine’s distentio animi beyond the text itself, specifically as an intellectual alternative to traditional Donatist views on time and ultimately martyrdom. Long story short, I seek to understand the distinctly African context not only of Augustine but of all figures from the region.

My determination to understand the African context of authors like Augustine led me to drive 1200 miles around northeastern Algeria in the summer of 2019. I took upwards of 8500 photos that I have slowly been posting to a Flickr page, linking each with Pleiades. Subsequent trips to Algeria and Libya have been hampered by the pandemic and security issues in the case of Libya. Indeed, this entire aspect of my work has been on hold since March 2020, but read here for more.

The highway just south of M’daourouch, Algeria

While exploring Algeria and teaching courses on ancient North Africa at UT Austin, I have increasingly become interested in the reception of North African antiquity in the Medieval and modern Maghrib. Little work has been done on this topic, though there is quite a lot of fascinating material to study, and I find it to be an important contrast to work done on European reception. Although what I have so far outlined is doubtless more than enough work for a single individual’s lifetime, I would also like to extend it to the reception of Balkan antiquity in the former Yugoslavia, largely because I have personal connections there. Read here for some initial thoughts on that.

Due to the nature of my job at Yale, I am pivoting a bit, thinking of ways my scholarship on Africa (and eventually the Balkans) can be useful in the language classroom. Among other things, I am thinking of a digital resource of teaching materials including student commentaries on relevant Greek and Latin texts, images, and interactive maps. Stay tuned for more as I organize my thoughts.

Inscriptions in Tamazight, Arabic, French, and English commemorating Augustine’s life next to the olive tree he supposedly planted (he didn’t) in Souk Ahras, Algeria (ancient Thagaste)