Monmouth / Academics / Faculty Profile

Robert Holschuh Simmons

Academic Biography:
Who I am as a teacher and scholar is in large part a reflection of my own education in the liberal arts, at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN. There I majored in Classics and English and was inspired to pursue a Ph.D., hoping to do for other undergraduates what my outstanding professors did for me. But St. John’s also inspired me to push my limits in other ways, personally, professionally, and athletically. The strong emphasis on social justice at St. John’s led me to teach English and direct recreation as a LaSallian Volunteer at a reform school in Albany, NY, immediately out of college. Then I earned an MAT in English at Minnesota State—Mankato in order to continue my effort to reach students at formative levels, and parlayed that degree into three years of teaching English at Omaha (NE) North High School. But I continued to love Classics, so when I decided to return to graduate school to pursue my PhD, it was in Classics, and at the University of Iowa. Throughout my years in Albany, Omaha, and Iowa City, I continued to be the well-rounded person that I had been encouraged to be at St. John’s, training diligently as a distance runner (I ran cross country and track in college), culminating in my competition in the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. After completing my PhD at Iowa, I taught for eight years at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. My goal all along, though, was to return to my roots in the liberal arts, and I am thrilled to be here at Monmouth.

Research Interests:
At the core of my research is classical Athenian tragedy and comedy produced during the Peloponnesian War, but I use them as sources to understand dynamics of class, leadership, and gender at that time. These plays were written at a time when a new style of populist politician, later called a “demagogue,” came into prominence. I use the plays, along with other sources of the time, to illuminate elite anxieties about the rise both of the demagogues and of the mass of common Athenians to whom they appealed. The plays also bring to light a critical technique that the demagogues used to win their mass constituency: getting great numbers of the masses to feel a sense of friendship toward the demagogues, as a result of the demagogues’ personal means of outreach and their mastery of friendship-building techniques that have been elucidated in contemporary sociology. I have used another play to uncover what seems to be an early awareness of transgender inclinations. I have also published and presented on topics related to Homer, Xenophon, Catullus, Lucan, ancient warfare, ancient sports, and Classics Day, the elaborate celebration of classical antiquity that I (with a great deal of collaboration from students and faculty) instituted at UNCG and continued at Monmouth, starting in 2015.

Selected Research and/or Creative Work:
“‘Men, Friends’: The Sociological Mechanics of Xenophontic Leaders Winning Subordinates as Friends.” In Historiography, Culture and Religion in Classical Antiquity: Papers in Honor of Carin M.C. Green, edited by Sinclair Bell and Lora Holland. Forthcoming.

“Making Classics (Even More) Cool: Building a Thriving Classics Day at a University.” Classical Journal 113.1 (October/November). Forthcoming.

“Greece and Rome at War: Military Techniques and Strategies of the Mediterranean Superpowers.” Invited presentation at the 88th Annual Meeting of Eta Sigma Phi, the national undergraduate Classics honor society. Monmouth. 2016.

“REAL Olympics (Except for the Competing Naked Part), Ancient Greek-Style.” Presentation at the 53rd Annual Convention of the Illinois Junior Classical League—North, Itasca, IL. 2016.

“Agamemnon on (the) Campaign (Trail): Evolving Models of Leadership in Classical Athens.” Colloquium Talk, Monmouth. 2015.

“What Can Classics Day at Monmouth College Do for You?” Presentation at the 76th Annual Meeting of the Illinois Classical Conference (ICC), Monmouth. 2015.

“Arm Your Students: Methods for Making Convincing Greek and Roman Armature without Much Money or Skill.” Presentation at the 68th American Classical League (ACL) Annual Institute, Storrs, CT. 2015.

“For Women’s Tastes: Suggestions of Transgender Identity in the Bacchae’s Pentheus.” Presentation at the 111th meeting of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS), Boulder, CO. 2015.

“‘Come Back with Your Shield or on It’: Greek and Macedonian Battle Phalanxes, in Ideology and Action.” Presentation at the 52nd Annual Convention of the Illinois Junior Classical League—North, Itasca, IL. 2015.

“Testudinem Formate: A Roman Legion, Armed and Deployed.” Presentation at the Annual Convention of the Illinois Junior Classical League—South, Springfield, IL. 2014.

“Animating the Ancient World: Building a Thriving Classics Day.” Presentation at the 75th meeting of ICC, Evanston. 2014.

“Friends in Low Places: Cleon’s Philia in Aristophanes.” Presentation at the 145th meeting of the American Philological Association (APA), Chicago. 2014.

“Deconstructing a Father’s Love: Catullus 72 and 74.” Classical World 104: 29-57. 2010.

Courses Taught:
GREK 101-102 Introductory Greek I-II
LATN 101-102 Introductory Latin I-II
GREK 200/300/400 Directed Readings in Greek (Homer; Plato)
LATN 200/300/400 Directed Readings in Latin (5 different authors/topics)
CLAS 130 Ancient Society (4 different topics)
CLAS 188 Classics Day Leadership
CLAS 201 Classics Seminar (2 different topics)
CLAS 210 Ancient Literature (2 different topics)
CLAS 230 Classical Mythology (2 different topics)
INTG 101 and 202 Intro to Liberal Arts and Global Perspectives: World Drama

BA—Classics and English St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN 1993
MAT—English Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN 1995
PhD—Classics University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 2006

Contact Info:
Office: Rm 21 Wallace Hall