James A. Francis, Ph.D. 1991

Retired professor of Classical Studies, University of Kentucky

1991 Ph.D., Classical Studies

How has being a Classical Studies graduate from Duke helped shape you personally and/or professionally?

"Though I did not attend Duke as an undergrad, I can as a college professor (with a Duke graduate degree) and reviewer of fellowship and grant applications attest to the value of a Classics major. It indicates a person who is willing to undertake a challenge, who is serious about what they want to do, who is disciplined and dedicated. Given the department's multi-disciplinary approach, the Duke Classics major in particular gives a perspective and depth to one's outlook on the world, and offers insights and solutions to problems that are often creative, insightful, and "out-of-the-box." The study of ancient literature, history, and philosophy can also be personally tremendously satisfying, giving a person dimensions of insight, judgement, and sagacity that very few other majors can rival."

What advice would you give students in Duke's Classical Studies programs? 

"Be broad in your scope; take courses not in in language and literature, but in history and philosophy as well. Seek out knowledge of Athenian democracy and Stoic philosophy. Read Thucydides and Epictetus, in English if your Greek isn't up to it. I have found these in articular to be of immense help in surviving the sort of world we currently live in. If you are a grad student, take full advantage of Duke's multi-disciplinary approach, and take courses in other departments such as Philosophy, Religion, and Medieval History. This allowed me to market myself not only in Classics, but in History and Religion as well when I was on the job market."

James A Francis