Professor of Humanities
His publications include over a dozen books, as well as numerous translations and original plays. His most recent books are Herakles Gone Mad: Rethinking Heroism in an Age of Endless War and Killing from the Inside Out: Moral Injury and Just War.
He has offered workshops on the translation and contemporary production of ancient drama at colleges and universities here and abroad, and has himself directed productions at such venues as the Samuel Beckett Centre, Dublin and the Nandan Centre for the Performing Arts in Kolkota, India. In recent years he has directed and participated in a range of events and programs concerned with healing the spiritual wounds of war in veterans, their families, and their communities. He has also published, blogged, and lectured widely on these matters of urgent national concern.
The aim of this course is the comparative study of four ancient epics from Mesopotamia, Greece, India, and Ireland. The core readings comprise: the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, the Mahabharata, and the Tain. Each text is considered both in its own historical and cultural context and in the larger shared context of ancient epic, myth, religion, and literature.
The earliest evidence of religious imagination suggests that the source of all life, death, and rebirth, the power of creation, sustenance, destruction, and re-generation, was first understood as feminine. Goddess worship, arguably the original "religion" of the human species, has survived not only in memory but also in practice to the present day, despite the hostility or indifference of virtually every "world religion" of the past several millennia. This class will look closely at a number of prehistoric and ancient goddess traditions from Europe, the Near East, and South Asia, examining their ancient forms and their enduring legacies. More specifically, this class will begin in the painted caves of prehistoric France and end on the streets of contemporary Kolkota, home to the largest and most vital Mother Goddess festival in the modern world, the festival of Ma Durga.
An introduction to the archaeology, myth, history, art, literature, and religion of ancient Ireland: 4000 BCE to 1200 CE, from the earliest megalithic monuments to the Norman conquest. Consideration will be given, then, to these distinct periods: Pre-Celtic (Neolithic and Bronze Ages--4000 BCE-700 BCE); Pre-Christian Celtic (Late Bronze & Iron Ages--700 BCE-400 CE); and Early Christian Celtic (Irish Golden Ages and Medieval--700-1200 CE). The emphasis throughout will be on the study of primary material, whether artifacts or documents. Readings will include: selections from the Mythological, Ulster, and Finn Cycles; The Voyage of St. Brendan; The History and Topography of Ireland by Giraldus Cambrensis; the writings of Patrick; and selections from early Irish hagiography.
The moral legitimacy of war has been the focus of intense division and debate within Christianity from its emergence in the first century of the Common Era. Crucial for the ensuing centuries of warfare in the West, Christian theologians, philosophers, and eventually canon lawyers have been the source of the doctrine of just war in its first formulations and in its many versions since, down to the present day. This course will trace the roots and the path of that tradition in the West.