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Michael Kulikowski

Michael Kulikowski

Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History and Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies

Head, Department of History

108E Weaver Building University Park , PA 16802
Office Phone: (814) 863-2424


  1. PhD, University of Toronto, 1998
  2. MA, University of Toronto, 1992
  3. BA, Rutgers University, 1991


I am a late Roman historian and work on the political and institutional history of the empire between the second and fifth centuries, with a special interest in how one can read historical sources against the background of other evidence. My first book was a study of Roman and post-Roman Spain that tried to set the small body of written texts against the background of material culture; my second looked at the impact of Roman imperialism on neighboring territories and argued that the history of the barbarians, specifically the Goths, can be understood entirely as a response to Roman imperialism. I am presently at work on four projects: a history of the Roman empire from Hadrian to the fall of the western empire for the Profile History of the Ancient World; a study of late imperial political culture and the gap between political rhetoric and political practice called The Rhetoric of Being Roman; a history of the Latin chronicle tradition from its beginnings to the fifth century AD, in four volumes and in collaboration with R.W. Burgess; and as editor-in-chief of the forthcoming Landmark Ammianus Marcellinus.

Before coming to Penn State in 2009, I taught for eight years at the University of Tennessee

Recent Publications:

“Coded Polemic in Ammianus Book 31 and the Date and Place of Its Composition,” Journal of Roman Studies 102 (2012): 79-102.

“Barbarische Identität. Aktuelle Forschungen und neue Interpretationsansätze,” in M. Konrad and C. Witschel, edd.Römische Legionslager in den Rhein- und Donauprovinzen -- Nuclei spätantik-frümittelalterlichen Lebens? Munich: Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2012. Pp. 103-11.

Rome’s Gothic Wars from the Third Century to Alaric. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. [German translation, Die Goten vor Rom, Darmstadt: Theiss, 2009; Portuguese translation, Guerras Góticas de Roma, Sâo Paolo: Madras, 2009;  French translation, Rome et les Goths, IIIe-Ve siècle: invasions et intégration, Paris: Editions Autrement, 2009]

“Mark Antony’s Last Throw,” London Review of Books 34.20 (25 October 2012): 15-16.

Student Testimonial

“The Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies is an incredibly helpful community of individuals who love to learn. The faculty members of this department are very thoughtful and provide invaluable assistance to otherwise confused undergraduates. (...)
The smaller department size allows students to establish relationships with faculty and to establish a community in a school that might otherwise seem dauntingly large. The Classics and the study of the ancient Mediterranean world are strong at Penn State. For a school that prides itself on cutting-edge research and applied sciences, Penn State is a superb promoter of the Humanities. This support allows the CAMS department to recruit world-class faculty, provide generous funding and aid to undergraduates, and establish resources for research. The structure of the department was a perfect fit for me and allowed me to explore a wide-range of subjects related to my interests. In my four years in the program, I strengthened my Latin and Greek and was also able to study Egyptian Hieroglyphs and Sumerian. I now look forward to continuing my training in philology as I pursue graduate study.”

Timothy W. Dooley
2011 CAMS graduate

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