Craig Williams

Classics, Urbana-Champaign
Fellowship: 15.04.–15.07.2020



Craig Williams is Professor of Classics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After earning his PhD from Yale University in 1992, he was on the faculty of Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center (City University of New York) for twenty years, and was awarded a Leonard and Clair Tow Endowed Professorship in 2006. Williams has also taught at Columbia University and the Freie Universität Berlin. He is the author of »Roman Homosexuality« (Oxford University Press 1999, second edition 2010), »Reading Roman Friendship« (Cambridge University Press 2012), two commentaries on Martial's epigrams (Book 2, Oxford University Press 2004, and a student reader, Bolchazy-Carducci Press 2011), and numerous articles on subjects ranging from Latin epigram to the semantics of gender in classical Latin to historical fiction set in ancient Rome. For his current project on Native American writing on ancient Greece and Rome he has been awarded fellowships by the University of Illinois Center for Advanced Study, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.


Fields of Research

  • Greek and Roman literature
  • Reception of the Greco-Roman classics
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Animals in literature
  • Native American literature


Project outline

Greco-Roman Antiquity in Native American Autobiography


I am working on a book (working title: »Calling the Muses to Oklahoma«) which will tell the hitherto untold story of how Native American writers have used European classical antiquity as an element in their portraiture of themselves and their people. I consider some of the ways in which these uses of Greece and Rome can be interpreted: as transformations of European classical antiquity (whether as instances of appropriation, hybridization, or allelopoiesis); as tools or weapons used by Indian writers addressing non-Indian readers; as a way of »talking back« to Europeans and Euro-Americans through the intermediary of their prestigious »classics«; and more. Bringing together for the first time a body of texts ranging from letters and poetry written in Latin and Greek by Indian students at Harvard College and elsewhere in colonial New England, to English-language letters, essays, autobiographies, novels, and poems from the nineteenth century to the present day, my book will make a new contribution not only to study of the reception of ancient Greece and Rome beyond European and Euro-American contexts, but also to the ongoing history of how Native American writers have created portraits of themselves and their people, telling stories of adaptation and survival in a colonial situation.


Publications (Selection)

  • Reading Roman Friendship. Cambridge University Press 2012.
  • A Martial Reader: Selections from the Epigrams. Bolchazy-Carducci 2011
  • Roman Homosexuality: Second Edition. With foreword by Martha Nussbaum. Oxford University Press 2010.
  • Martial: Epigrams, Book Two. Introduction, Text, Translation and Commentary. Oxford University Press 2004.
  • »The Poetry of Animals in Love: A Reading of Oppian’s Halieutica and Cynegetica.« In Simone Finkmann, Anja Behrendt, Anke Walter, eds., Antike Erzähl- und Deutungsmuster: Zwischen Exemplarität und Transformation (De Gruyter 2018), pp. 473-500.
  • »Friends, Romans, Errors: Moments in the Reception of amicitia.« In Basil Dufallo, ed., Roman Error: Classical Reception and the Problem of Rome’s Flaws (Oxford University Press 2017), pp. 53-73.
  • »Roman Homosexuality in Historical Fiction from Robert Graves to Steven Saylor.« In Jennifer Ingleheart, ed., Ancient Rome and the Construction of Modern Homosexual Identities (Oxford University Press 2015), pp. 176-193.
  • »The Language of Gender: Lexical Semantics and the Latin Vocabulary of Unmanly Men.« In Mark Masterson, Nancy Rabinowitz and James Robson, eds., Sex in Antiquity: Exploring Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World (Routledge 2015), pp. 461-481.
  • »Sexual Themes in Greek and Latin Graffiti.« In Thomas K. Hubbard, ed., A Companion to Greek and Roman Sexualities (Blackwell Publishing 2014), pp. 493-508.
  • »When a Dolphin Loves a Boy: Some Greco-Roman and Native American Love Stories.« Classical Antiquity 32 (2013): 200-242.