Lee News

Johnson Receives Grants for Research


By Naudia O’Steen

Dr. Aaron Johnson, associate professor of humanities and classics, has recently been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, and the Appalachian College Association (ACA) for research he will pursue throughout the upcoming summer and fall.

Johnson will use the grants to focus on a book he is currently writing that will attempt to explain the significance of Cyril of Alexandria’s “Against Julian the Emperor,” a 5th century A.D. defense of Christianity that currently has no English translation. In addition to writing the book, Johnson will translate the Greek text to English.

“Cyril is known to many historians as one of the most violent bishops of antiquity and a sort of thug,” said Johnson. “It is exciting to have such an important text that very few scholars have actually read by this fascinating character. My work on the text will hopefully shed important light on what made him tick.”

Aaron Johnson
Dr. Aaron Johnson

Johnson will spend the summer at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where he will use the prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend.

“We are so pleased that Aaron has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Humanities for his research,” said Dr. Debbie Murray, vice president of academic affairs. “Almost 800 scholars applied for this very competitive grant and only eight percent were awarded. Dr. Johnson’s unique area of research in antiquity will directly benefit our students and the new classics major.”

He will spend the fall 2018 semester at Yale University using the Loeb Classical Library Foundation grant, which is funded by Harvard University, and the ACA grant to continue his book project and research.

In order to continue his research, Johnson has been granted a sabbatical for the fall semester.
Johnson joined Lee’s faculty in 2010. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Art degrees in classics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He specializes in the Greek literature and intellectual culture of the later Roman Empire, particularly in the areas of ethnic and religious identities and of Hellenism.
In addition to his current research, Johnson recently spoke at a Florida State University colloquium. He aimed to address the ways in which the ancient philosopher Plato could provide resources for thinking about the current “world crisis,” from human rights violations and refugees to religious violence or the extensive plastic waste in the ocean.

The Department of History, Political Science & Humanities also recently announced the addition of a classics major, which will expand the current offering of a humanities major with an emphasis in classics.

For more information about Lee’s Department of History, Political Science & Humanities, call (423) 614-8137.

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