Peter Struck

Associate Professor of Classical Studies
Director, Benjamin Franklin Scholars

University of Pennsylvania

Peter Struck is Associate Professor of Classical Studies. He received his A.B. at the University of Michigan and his M.A. (Divinity) and Ph.D. (Comparative Literature) from the University of Chicago. His primary research interests are in the history of ideas about the construction of meaning, with specialties in literary criticism, in divination through oracles, omens, and dreams, and in ancient notions of the organism. His first book, Birth of the Symbol: Ancient Readers at the Limits of their Texts (2004), explores how readers of Homer in antiquity found extraordinary insights in his epic poems -- about the gods, the cosmos, and the human place in it. It won the American Philological Association's C. J. Goodwin Award for outstanding book in classical studies. Professor Struck is currently at work on a study of Greek and Roman divination, titled Divine Signs and Human Nature: A Cognitive History of Divination in Antiquity. He has edited two volumes: a collection of studies on ancient divination, Mantikê (2006) and the Cambridge Companion to Allegory (2010). He has published widely in professional journals on ancient philosophy, religion, magic and divination, and literary criticism, and has given dozens of lectures at universities in the United States and Europe.

Professor Struck has taught a variety of classes, at Penn, Ohio State, the University of Chicago, and Princeton, on mythology, religion, magic, literature, philosophy, and theories of language and the sign at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In 2004, he won Penn's Lindback Award, the university's highest award for teaching, and he won the Distinguished Teaching Award from Penn's College of General Studies in 2006.

He has been a member of several ongoing collaborations. Since 2003 he has worked as a consultant with the Teagle Foundation on national-level initiatives to promote the liberal arts, and with the support of the foudation, he founded and co-directs the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education. He was a fellow in the Young Faculty Leaders Forum at the Kennedy School at Harvard, and has served as a media consultant to NBC, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, A & E, and for the History Channel. He is a founding member of the editorial advisory board of Lapham's Quarterly, a general interest publication devoted to history that launched in November of 2007. At Penn, he has been the Classical Studies Department's Undergraduate Chair and the director of the Post-Baccalaureate program, served as a faculty fellow at Penn's Hamilton and Stouffer College Houses, topic director of the Penn Humanities Forum 10th anniversary program on "Change" (2008-09), and director of the Benjamin Franklin Scholars Program (2009-). In 2010 the Provost of the university named him a Penn Fellow. Struck has held fellowships from the National Humanities Center, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Whiting Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford.