What I’m Working On Now

  • I’m currently working in Munich as the 2016–2017 SCS/NEH Fellow at the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, a 122-year-old international effort to compile a dictionary about Latin (and in Latin) from its earliest sources to the end of the sixth century. So far, I’ve written articles for a handful of words, including (for example) nervosus and remunerator. Currently, I’m researching instances of the word reminiscor, “to remember.”

  • I’m co-editing a book on ambiguitas with Michael Fontaine at Cornell and William Short at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The volume includes contributions on matters of linguistics, literary theory, Renaissance humanism, and more. In addition to my editorial work, I’m contributing an essay on the notion of ambiguity in rhetorical education, not merely as a stylistic flaw to be avoided (as ambiguitas is often understood in grammatical texts) but as a point where an expert courtroom advocate can use his strategies of legal interpretation.

  • Alongside my lexicographical duties in Munich, I have been working on other academic writing. I’m currently revising for publication an article based on the fourth chapter of my dissertation, in which I highlight Quintilian’s influence in the works of Lorenzo Valla and his understanding of certainty. My writing has also recently appeared in the pages of Commonweal Magazine, including an account of my work in Munich as well as a book review of Seamus Heaney’s translation of Aeneid Book VI.

  • I defended my dissertation, “Quintilian’s Theory of Certainty and Its Afterlife in Early Modern Italy,” which passed with distinction. Broadly speaking, my dissertation argues that the ancient notion of certainty, alien to the modern concept of the same name, is most fully theorized in Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria as a matter of customary agreement. This consensus-based understanding of certainty, built upon earlier sources including Aristotle and Cicero, exerts an enormous influence on Quintilian’s humanist readers, who use it to ground their writings on law, logic, and language. You can find a copy of my dissertation as well as an abstract at Columbia’s Academic Commons website.

  • I’m not able to play the piano too often in Germany, but when I get the chance, I mostly work on keeping songs in my fingers. These include some Bach (Goldbergs and Inventions), some Scriabin (Preludes and Mazurkas), and a bit of Debussy.
    (last updated 1/22/2017)