Kyle Harper, University of Oklahoma associate professor of classics and letters, is a recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a national award honoring scholars, artists and scientists who are selected on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.
Guggenheim Fellows represent a wide variety of backgrounds, fields of study and accomplishments. Harper, who also serves as director of OU’s Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage and senior vice provost for OU’s Norman campus, was selected in the field of European and American History based on his current research project, The Fall of the Roman Empire: A Biohistory.
“The entire University community joins me in congratulating Vice Provost Harper for this exceptional recognition of his work as a scholar,” said OU President David L. Boren. “With this award along with the James Henry Breasted Prize, he takes his place among the finest scholars in his field in our country.”
In announcing this year’s Fellows, Edward Hirsch, president of the foundation, said, “These artists and writers, scholars and scientists represent the best of the best. Since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has always bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue the tradition with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”
Harper recently was named recipient of the prestigious James Henry Breasted Prize by the American Historical Association for his book, Slavery in the Late Roman World, AD 275-425, published by Cambridge University Press in 2011. Earlier he was presented the Classical Association of the Middle West and South’s Outstanding Publication Award for the same book. His next book, From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Ethics in Late Antiquity, is due to appear from Harvard University Press next month. The Fall of the Roman Empire: A Biohistory is a study that will examine the influence of environmental factors like disease and climate on the end of the ancient Roman empire.
“Historians have increasingly recognized the potential of the natural sciences to help us understand past events and long-term transformations, such as the collapse of ancient empires. I feel tremendously honored to receive this recognition, and I’m so grateful for all the support I receive from the University of Oklahoma. I’m proud to teach at a top-tier research institution like OU, where we’re advancing the frontiers of knowledge in exciting ways,” Harper said.
As director of OU’s Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage, Harper has helped coordinate two successful Teach-In conferences, the first on Constitutionalism, the second, held in March, on the Great Depression and World War II; both drew audiences of thousands.
Harper created and introduced freedom.ou.edu, an OU website featuring a weekly series of short lectures on constitutional law and constitutional history, making civic education available to anyone any time. The website provides content produced by the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage, a program founded in 2009 to emphasize the teaching of constitutional foundations as part of the college curriculum. With more than 30 faculty from across the university, the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage offers an unparalleled range of courses on constitutional history. The program is designed to enhance civic education – on campus and beyond. Freedom.ou.edu was conceived as a way to share the resources of OU with the public.
Harper, who earned a bachelor of arts degree in letters summa cum laude from OU and master’s and doctoral degrees in history from Harvard University, teaches a range of courses on Greek and Roman history, early Christianity, late antiquity and ancient law. For his exceptional teaching, he was awarded the Irene Rothbaum Outstanding Associate Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Award in 2011.