Faculty Feature: Dr Jon Arnold, Director of Classical Studies, TU

Written by Brian Cain, Postsecondary Fellow

Dr. Jon Arnold is the Director of Classical Studies and Associate Professor of History at the University of Tulsa.

As a historian, Dr. Arnold specifically focuses on the late Roman empire, early medieval period and Mediterranean and European history. Studying the classics as a historian means that Dr. Arnold does intense study of Greek and Latin in order to read original source material. However, what underpins his work as a historian is historiography. Dr. Arnold states that it was in high school where he learned what studying history actually was; it was not remembering names and dates, but source criticism. Carefully studying sources and coming to your own conclusions was at the core of what it meant to study history. It was this revelation and other high school experiences that led Dr. Arnold to where he is today.

Dr. Arnold’s journey to where he is today started partly with the need to satisfy his high school’s language requirement. In choosing between Latin and French, he went with Latin. Other than appreciating the fact that Latin would be great for improving his verbal score on his SATs, Dr. Arnold says that Latin was a difficult and tedious language. He completed four years of high school Latin but says that taking Latin was not a fun experience and that he never developed a passion for the language

Later on, in order to satisfy his undergraduate university’s language requirement, he once again had to put on his Latin hat. However, when inquiring about testing out of the language requirement, a Latin professor suggested Dr. Arnold take her Roman Philosophical Thought course. Having been previously disinterested in Latin, he reluctantly agreed. After just a few weeks in the course, however, Dr. Arnold fell in love with it. From that point forward, Dr. Arnold knew that he wanted to study ancient history.

Today, Dr Arnold’s research focuses on Romanness, barbarians and the area once known as Gaul, which consisted of France, Belgium and other countries in the region. His recent publications focus on ideologies of gender and masculinity in post-Roman Italy. Currently, he is working on translating Latin texts from a sixth century author who wrote on the lives of saints, among other things. In a sense, this project allows Dr. Arnold’s studies to come full circle, allowing him to rediscover his roots in classics and training in Latin.