The American Historical Association has awarded University of Oklahoma educator Kyle Harper with the prestigious James Henry Breasted Prize for his book, Slavery in the Late Roman World, AD 275-425, published by Cambridge University Press in 2011, marking the second award this year for the book. Harper, associate professor in the Department of Classics and Letters and the director of OU’s Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage, earlier was presented the Classical Association of the Middle West and South’s Outstanding Publication Award for the same book.
“Dr. Harper’s receipt of this signal honor is a source of pride for the entire University community,” said OU President David L. Boren. “We are indeed fortunate to have a scholar of his stature as a member of our faculty.”
Harper’s first book is a study of slavery in its essential dimensions—economic, social, and legal—over the final period during which the Mediterranean was united under Roman rule. His second book, From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity, will be published by Harvard University Press in the spring 2013.
“It is tremendously exciting to win an award like this,” says Harper. “I am honored to be recognized for my work. An award like this is a reflection of the support and mentorship I have received while at the University of Oklahoma and previously at Harvard University.”
“Today, I enjoy working at an outstanding research institution that cares about teaching, where the research enterprise feeds into the teaching mission. It is vitally important for the economy of Oklahoma to have a flagship research university in the state. And, it is important for our students to have the world-class research opportunities that top research universities offer.”
“Research is an important part of the humanities and the social sciences,” says Harper. “My research is greatly enriched by the electronic search tools available today. Even in history and literature there is important new knowledge being gained and it is at research universities where that happens.”
“Research makes you a better teacher, especially in the humanities. It is essential that we understand human history, including the ancient past,” Harper said. “The late antique period saw the fall of the ancient empires before the Middle Ages and laid the spiritual and political foundation for the world that we know today.”
Harper, an Oklahoman and an OU graduate, earned a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University in 2007. Currently, he teaches Greek and Roman history, early Christianity, late antiquity and ancient law. He also directs OU’s Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage, an interdisciplinary center for the study of constitutionalism.