Professor of Classics
Chair, Department of Classics
Shane Butler works on Latin literature from antiquity through the Renaissance. His special interests include media history and theory; sensation, cognition, and aesthetics; rhetoric and poetics; the history of sexuality; classical reception; and the history of classical scholarship.
Professor Butler’s published books reconstruct the material context of the production and circulation of Roman oratory (The Hand of Cicero, 2002), examine ways in which the physical formats of books shape the meanings and metaphors of the texts they embody (The Matter of the Page, 2011), follow the connections between literature and the senses into underlying questions about the nature of human experience (Synaesthesia and the Ancient Senses, 2013, co-edited with Alex Purves), explore the role of the voice in the making and reading of classical literature, with insights drawn from later analogues (The Ancient Phonograph, 2015), and consider how the study of a distant, buried, and never fully recoverable past reflects and enables other aspects of our relationship with our lives and our world (Deep Classics: Rethinking Classical Reception, edited, 2016). A forthcoming edited volume will survey the soundscapes of the ancient world (Sound and the Ancient Senses, co-edited with Sarah Nooter, forthcoming 2017). He is also editing and translating the Latin Letters of Renaissance humanist Angelo Poliziano (vol. 1, 2006) for the I Tatti Renaissance Library, for which series he serves as Associate Editor. He also co-edits the series Classics After Antiquity for Cambridge University Press.
Professor Butler received his PhD from Columbia University (2000) and has held residential fellowships at the American Academy in Rome, the Villa I Tatti in Florence, and the Getty Villa in Malibu. He joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins in 2015. He had previously taught at the University of Bristol, UCLA, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Professor Butler teaches a wide range of courses in Latin language and literature (Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance), in Greco-Roman culture and thought, and in classical reception (aka “the classical tradition”). A popular course is Myth & Metamorphosis, which examines the work of the Roman poet Ovid and its influence through the ages, up to the present, with a particular emphasis on the ways in which art both describes and shapes the ways we see our world.