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Advisory Board

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Advisory Board

Wilfred McClay received his bachelor of arts degree cum laude from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md., in 1974, and his doctoral degree in history from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 1987. He has taught at Tulane University, Pepperdine University, Georgetown University and the University of Dallas and as a Senior Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Rome.  He came to the University of Oklahoma in 2013 as the G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty and is devoted to teaching students about the evolution of the concept of liberty in Western civilization. The chair also serves as director of the Center for the History of Liberty.

Currently, McClay serves as the SunTrust Bank Chair of Excellence in Humanities and Professor of History at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is also co-director of the Center for Reflective Citizenship at UTC. In addition, he serves as a Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, and Senior Fellow of the Trinity Forum.

McClay was appointed in 2002 to the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities, where he served until January. His book, The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America, won the 1995 Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American intellectual history. Among his other books are The Student’s Guide to U.S. History, Religion Returns to the Public Square: Faith and Policy in AmericaFigures in the Carpet: Finding the Human Person in the American Past,and Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Public Life in Modern America.

A recipient of many teaching awards and honors, he has also been the recipient of fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Academy of Education.  His research interests focus on the intellectual and cultural history of the United States, with particular attention to the social and political thought of the 19th and 20th centuries; the history of American religious thought and institutions; and the theory and practice of biographical writing.

Email: | Phone: (405) 325-0436 | Office: CARN 232

Kevin Butterfield received his Ph.D. in History from Washington University in St. Louis in 2010, where he studied the law, politics, and society of the post-Revolutionary United States. That year, he came to the University of Oklahoma as the first core faculty member in the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage, a newly created program for the study of the U.S. Constitution and its influences and history. He was named the associate director of that program in 2013. For the 2012-2013 year, he was the National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellow at the New-York Historical Society, researching and writing a book on “Membership in America: Joining Together in a Post-Revolutionary Age.” In June 2014, he will co-direct with Paul Gilje an NEH Summer Institute for College and University Faculty on “Westward Expansion and the Constitution in the Early American Republic.”

Email: | Phone: (405) 325-2234 | Office: CARN 219

image of Kyle Harper

Kyle Harper is a historian of the ancient world.  He graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Letters from OU and then received his Ph.D. in History from Harvard University in 2007.  His first book was published by Cambridge University Press as Slavery in the Late Roman World, AD 275-425.  The book was awarded the James Henry Breasted Prize by the American Historical Association and the Outstanding Publication Award from the Classical Association of the Middle West and South.  His second book, From Shame to Sin:  The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality, was published by Harvard University Press in 2013 and won the Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in Historical Studies from the American Academy of Religion as well as Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year.  Dr. Harper's research has focused on the social and economic history of the period spanning the Roman Empire and the early middle ages.  His current work explores the impact of climate change and infectious disease on the history of civilization.  Since 2014 Dr. Harper has served as OU's Senior Vice President and Provost.  Dr. Harper teaches a range of courses on Greek and Roman history, early Christianity, late antiquity and ancient law.

Email: | Phone: (405) 325-4063 | Office: Evans Hall

Andrew Porwancher, Assistant Professor (Ph.D. Cambridge, A.M. Brown, B.A. Northwestern, summa cum laude) is a core faculty member of the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage.  His book, The Devil Himself: A Tale of Honor, Insanity, and the Birth of Modern America, is under contract with Oxford University Press.  Dr. Porwancher's articles have appeared in the Journal of Supreme Court HistoryHistory of EducationJournalism History, and Paedagogica Historica. In 2013-2014, he served as the Alistair Horne Fellow at the University of Oxford.

Email: | Phone: (405) 325-2030 | Office: CARN 213

Now in his 30th year at the University of Oklahoma, Allen Hertzke is David Ross Boyd Professor of Political Science; Faculty Fellow in Religious Freedom for the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage; and Presidential Teaching Fellow in the Honors College. He also served as founding director of OU’s Religious Studies Program. An internationally recognized expert on religion and politics, he is Associate Scholar of Georgetown University’s Religious Freedom Project and Distinguished Senior Fellow for the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. He is author of Freeing God’s Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights; Representing God in Washington, which has been issued in a Chinese language translation; Echoes of Discontent, and co-author of Religion and Politics in America, a comprehensive text now in its fifth edition. He is editor of The Future of Religious Freedom: Global Challenges(Oxford University Press, 2012), and Religious Freedom in America: Constitutional Roots and Contemporary Challenges (University of Oklahoma Press, 2015). Most recently, he co-edited a two volume project, Christianity and Freedom: Historical Perspectives and Christianity and Freedom: Contemporary Perspectives, just issued by Cambridge University Press.

As Visiting Senior Fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in Washington DC, he directed the study, “Lobbying for the Faithful: Religious Advocacy Groups in Washington DC.” Between 2008 and 2010 he served as lead consultant for the John Templeton Foundation to develop strategic recommendations for advancing religious freedom around the globe. A winner of numerous teaching awards, Dr. Hertzke has lectured at the National Press Club, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, Harvard University, Princeton University, Georgetown University, Notre Dame University, the University of California-Berkeley, and before numerous audiences in China. He serves on the editorial boards of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion and The Review of Faith & International Affairs, for which he served as Guest Editor for a special edition (Fall 2012) on strategies of advocacy for global religious freedom. He is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

Email: | Phone: (405) 325-4713 | Office: Dale Hall Tower 223

David K. Anderson studies the poetry and drama of the English Renaissance, and the relationship between literature and religion. He is particularly interested in William Shakespeare, John Milton, Christopher Marlowe, John Donne, John Foxe, and George Herbert, as well as Reformation history, the Western theological tradition, and the work of René Girard. His first book is entitled Martyrs and Players in Early Modern England: Tragedy, Religion, and Violence on Stage and was published by Ashgate Press in 2014. It considers how the sixteenth-century cultural crisis surrounding religious violence is reflected in the tragedy of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. 
Prof. Anderson’s current book is entitled Shakespeare, BC:  Ethics, Religion and Historical Contingency in the Greco-Roman plays.  It will explore the theological implications of the pre-Christian setting of those plays Shakespeare set in the ancient pagan world. Beyond that, he is interested in the shifting, overlapping, and contradictory conceptualizations of freedom in the early modern period and also in Milton’s political theology and his place in the Protestant theological tradition. He has published articles on John Donne’s poetry in Renaissance and Reformation, on King Lear and sacrificial violence in ELH, and on Marlowe and damnation in Texas Studies in Literature and Language. An article on political theology and As You Like It is currently under revision.

Email: | Phone: (405) 325-4661 | Office: Cate 2, Room 302

Donald Yerxa is professor of history emeritus at Eastern Nazarene College, editor of Fides et Historia, and former senior editor of Historically Speaking. He is author, co-author, or editor of a dozen books, including, most recently, Religion and Innovation: Antagonists or Partners? (editor, Bloomsbury Academic, 2016) and British Abolitionism and the Question of Moral Progress in History (editor, South Carolina, 2012).


Email: | Phone: (941) 882-4512 | Office: ENC, Old Colony Campus, 105

The Department of Classics & Letters

In keeping with the wisdom and tradition of placing the study of ancient Greece and Rome at the heart of a strong curriculum the liberal arts and sciences, President David Ross Boyd selected a classicist, William N. Rice, as the first member of the University of Oklahoma’s faculty in 1890. 

Rice’s successor, Joseph Paxton, wrote the university’s motto, Civi et Reipublicae (“for the benefit of the citizen and the state”), stating in nuce the university’s institutional mission of providing the “best possible educational experience for our students through excellence in teaching, research and creative activity, and service to the state and society.” 

From the Athenian drachma and the Roman sestertius featured above the south doorway of Adams Hall, to the Ionic column symbolizing humanistic learning in the College of Arts and Science’s logo, the Classical tradition has always been an important part of the University of Oklahoma, and the Department of Classics and Letters has always supported the university’s mission through research and teaching in the languages and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome and their enduring influence on the modern world. 

In 1937, the School of Letters was organized to “provide systematic instruction in ancient and modern languages, history, philosophy and comparative literature,” (Oklahoma Daily, August 4, 1937). 

A few years later, the School of Letters became a planned program of the College of Arts and Sciences, under the guidance of a committee of faculty members from the core departments of Classics, English, History, Modern Languages, and Philosophy. In 1953, under the direction of Philip J. Nolan, the Classics Department became the administrative home of the Letters program. Since then, the Chair of the Department of Classics also serves as the Director of the Letters program. 

To reflect the department’s long-standing commitment to the Letters program and the outstanding job it has done administering it, the department’s name was changed to the Department of Classics and Letters in 1996. 

In 2009, President David Boren established the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage (IACH) within the Department of Classics and Letters because he wanted the IACH to promote an interdisciplinary, humanistic approach to the study of the Constitution and constitutionalism. 

From its earliest days the Department of Classics and Letters has supported, and continues to support, OU’s institutional mission by promoting free inquiry and the perpetuation of the humanistic tradition.