William A. Johnson

Professor of Classical Studies

-- Duke University
HWL Affiliation: Steering Committee

William A. Johnson works broadly in the cultural history of Greece and Rome, with particular interest in ancient books, readers, and reading, and with a general interest in how literary pursuits intersect with cultural context in antiquity.

He has lectured and published on Plato, Hesiod, Herodotus, Pliny (both Elder and Younger), Gellius, Lucian and on a variety of topics relating to books and readers, both ancient and modern. Some prominent and illustrative examples: "Towards a Sociology of Reading" (American Journal of Philology, 2000), winner of the Gildersleeve Prize; "Reading Cultures and Education" (in Reading between the Lines, Yale University Press, 2003); his book on the book, Bookrolls and Scribes in Oxyrhynchus, a close study of the artifactual remains of over 400 papyrus bookrolls (University of Toronto Press, 2004, paperback 2013); Ancient Literacies: The Culture or Reading in Greece and Rome, an edited volume exploring new approaches to the topic (Oxford University Press, 2009, paperback 2011); and Readers and Reading Culture in the High Roman Empire: A Study of Elite Communities (Oxford University Press, 2010, paperback 2012). Other work has focused on ancient music; he produced the editio princeps for two of the very rare papyrus documents containing ancient Greek music (see Ancient Music Web Site).

Johnson teaches a wide range of Greek and Latin topics to undergraduate and graduate audiences; recent graduate seminars have included studies of literary papyri, Hesiod, Herodotus, Plato, Lucian, Pliny the Younger, Ancient Libraries, and Roman Villa Culture.