September 30, 2009

Knox gains new classics professor

Visiting assistant professor Ryan Fowler did not envision himself studying, teaching, and falling in love with classics.

“I started out studying philosophy,” explained Fowler. “As I dived deeper into [Greek and Roman] literature, I realized there was something disingenuous about teaching Greek and Roman philosophy without knowing Greek or Latin. So I learned those languages, and it opened up another world.”

After earning both his bachelor’s and master’s in philosophy, Fowler went back to school to earn another master’s degree—this one in classics—from Columbia University. He later earned a doctorate in classics from Rutgers University.

He then found out about an opening at Grinnell College in Iowa for someone to teach both philosophy and classics. Despite his lack of experience with liberal arts colleges, Fowler found Grinnell to be a perfect fit. A year later, when the Knox position opened up, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I realized that I’d been a liberal arts professor since I started teaching,” Fowler said. I had just been trying to fit that model to larger institutions.”

Once at Knox, Fowler found the environment to be stimulating, creative, and a “breath of fresh air”.

“Knox is very unique among…liberal arts schools,” Fowler said. “There’s a professionalism to all the faculty and staff, but there’s also a sense of not taking yourself quite so…seriously. It’s a wonderful balance.”

This term, Fowler is teaching the introductory Greek language sequence as well as Classical Mythology. For spring term, he is developing a course called History of Platonism, which will explore the role of Plato’s philosophy in pagan traditions as well as early monotheism through discussion and original student research.

“I’m very interested in Platonism,” said Fowler. “I’m working on a book about [its] use in the first few centuries of the Common Era.”

Fowler hopes that he can use the course as a forum so that he and his students can all learn from each other.

“I enjoy meeting new people. I’ve met people from biology to theatre to physics. Everyone is so passionate. I learn something from everyone,” he said.

When asked if there was anything he wanted Knox students to know, he said that he welcomes questions and conversations.

“Anytime my door is open, I’m fair game,” Fowler explained. “Anyone can come by. I think we should connect as much as we can.”

Anna Meier

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