This year, the History Department welcomes Professor Nicole Giannella to campus, one
of two new faculty hired to instruct our students. Professor Giannella comes to us
from her postdoctoral associate position in the Department of Classics at Cornell
University. She received her PhD in Classics from the University of Southern California
Professor Giannella will be taking over instruction of the department's Ancient Mediterranean classes, and was kind enough to answer some questions about her research, interests, and plans for her future here at the U.
Tell us about your research interests.
"I’m a Roman historian working primarily on the early empire (1st to 3rd centuries CE). My research focuses on slavery and on the intersection between law and society in Rome. My interest is in examining Roman thinking across different kinds of texts such as legal writings, historiography, philosophy, and medical works in order to piece together a better understanding of the nature of Roman slavery and freedom. I’m also committed to studying comparative legal systems and slavery from other periods to help inform my work."
What are you most excited about when it comes to living in Utah?
"I’m very happy to be living in Salt Lake City: I’m originally from California, but have been in the countryside out east for the last few years, so I’m excited to be back out west and in a metropolitan area. I’m also looking forward to exploring Salt Lake’s beautiful surrounding area."
Are you currently working on any projects or books?
"I have a couple of projects I’m currently working on. My main project is a book called The Mind of a Slave: The Limits of Ownership in Roman Law and Society in the 1st c.-3rd c. CE. The book considers how far a master’s ownership extended into and over the mind of a slave by looking at three evaluative moments in a slave’s life: (1) the slave market, (2) the appointment to and removal from work positions, and (3) the end of the master-slave relationship. I argue that conceptions of the mind of the slave were at the heart of a legal and cultural debate about the nature of slavery and ownership. The book also contributes to a wider debate about selfhood and autonomy, since philosophers often used the figure of the slave as a representation of humanity at its limits. I’m also working on a couple of articles about the legal and cultural status of former slaves in Rome."
What kind of classes are you planning to bring to the curriculum?
"I am keen to introduce courses where we discuss a particular topic across different time periods, such as race and identity across the ancient world, law and citizenship from ancient to modern times, and slavery in Greece, Rome, and the American South."
What do you do when you’re not teaching?
"My graduation present for my PhD was an elaborate hi-fi system, so I spend a lot of free time listening to music. I also enjoy eating good food and its counterpart running."
Join us in welcoming Professor Giannella to the department!
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An introduction to our newest Ancient Mediterranean specialist, her research interests, and her plans for the future at the U.
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