Postcard from Providence: Gregory K. Golden, RU Classics PhD 2008, writes of College of Rhode Island and his new book with Cambridge University Press


James P. Adams Library, College of Rhode Island

Well, here’s a welcome blast from the past…it’s Gregory K. Golden (BA Penn, MA Chicago, MLitt Oxford [New College], PhD 2008 Rutgers) who in 2009 joined the History faculty of Rhode Island College (Providence RI) as an assistant professor. Previously Greg had taught Western Civilization for the Rutgers-Newark Department of History as well as Medieval Latin for Rutgers-New Brunswick Classics. And he has some great news: this month Cambridge University Press publishes his first book, Crisis Management in the Roman Republic, based on his RU Classics dissertation! But without further ado, here’s Greg…

“Greetings from Providence, RU! It’s been a while since I last set foot on the banks of the Raritan. After a year on the adjunct merry-go-round after finishing, I got a tenure-track job in the History Department at Rhode Island College in Providence in 2009.”“RIC is the state’s oldest public institution of higher education. It was founded in 1854; the University of Rhode Island down in Kingston came later at the end of the century. RIC originally was set up as a “normal school” (teaching training institute), but later expanded from teaching training to offering four-year degrees—though there is still a strong school of education and a good number of students pursue education degrees.”


“RIC mainly draws its student body from the state as well as neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts and we also serve as a “college of opportunity” as many of our students are the first in their families to go to college.”

“Providence, of course, is home to rather more famous institutions of higher education (Brown and RISD), though they are (literally) on the other side of the tracks from RIC. It’s also a very livable city and I can walk for shopping and it’s only a short commute from my home to work.”


“I’m the ancient historian and the medievalist too (not too uncommon these days). So, I teach the regular run of ancient history (Ancient Greece, Hellenistic, Roman Republic, Roman Empire) as well as the survey of Medieval history. I also teach a section of our Western civilization course for the college’s general education requirements. It’s not all just surveys and gen ed courses, however, as I’ve also taught Cleopatra which I taught once at Rutgers (where it was developed originally).”

“This semester, I also have a couple of more challenging classes, as I’m running the senior seminar for History majors, where the students have to write a lengthy research paper on a topic developed on their own (the general subject matter is determined by the professor, and I decided to torture challenge them with Greek papyri documents from ancient Egypt.”


“The Loeb collection of Select Papyri provides a good selection of documents covering all kinds of subjects from politics to economics to the everyday lives of common people, so there is plenty of scope for students to develop a topic that fits their own interests, even if they have little to no knowledge of the ancient world).”

“In addition, the college has created a new First Year Seminar program, and I’ve been teaching one of them focused on the question “Is Biography History?” I’m having them read Suetonius’ Twelve Caesars, while also having them read a modern parallel, Nigel Hamilton‘s American Caesars, which presents twelve American presidential biographies in a format similar to Suetonius, all the while questioning the students about the nature of history and the role of individuals in larger events.

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“Of course, the biggest news for me is that my book, Crisis Management during the Roman Republic: The Role of Political Institutions in Emergencies is coming out next month from Cambridge University Press. Based on my Rutgers dissertation, it’s been through the wringer (as happens to all dissertations that are revised into a publishable book), but the process has been very good in helping to refine my craft as an ancient historian.”

“Now that that one is ready to come out, it’s time…to start working on the next project. When I can get a free moment from student demands!”


Gregory K. Golden, Rutgers PhD 2008, assistant professor of History at Rhode Island College

PS here is the scoop on Greg Golden’s Crisis Management during the Roman Republic book (Cambridge 2013):

“Crisis” is the defining word for our times and it likewise played a key role in defining the scope of government during the Roman Republic. Crisis Management during the Roman Republic is a comprehensive analysis of several key incidents in the history of the Republic that can be characterized as crises, and the institutional response mechanisms that were employed by the governing apparatus to resolve them. Concentrating on military and other violent threats to the stability of the governing system, this book highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of the institutional framework that the Romans created.

Looking at key historical moments such as the Second Punic War (218–201 BC), the upheavals caused by the Gracchi (133 and 121 BC), the conflict between Marius and Sulla (88 BC), the conspiracy of Catiline (63 BC), and the instability following Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC that marked the end of the Republic, Gregory K. Golden considers how the Romans defined a crisis and what measures were taken to combat them, including declaring a state of emergency, suspending all non-war-related business, and instituting an emergency military draft, as well as resorting to rule by dictator in the early Republic.

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