James A. Francis

  • Associate Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Studies
  • Classics
  • Folklore & Mythology
  • Modern & Classical Languages Literatures & Cultures
1475 Patterson Office Tower
Research Interests:

Ph.D. in Classical Studies 1991, Duke University
B.A. (Hon.) in History & Philosophy, 1976, Villanova University


Professor Francis specializes in cultural history of the later Roman Empire, specifically focusing on the 2nd-4th centuries C.E. He is particularly interested in the broader cultural context in which early Christianity developed and the interrelations between Christianity and pagan thought and culture. His current research focuses the relationship between verbal and visual representation, and how image making and the dynamics of seeing permeate the writing, exercise of power, and thinking about divinity. He also continues interest in his earlier research on asceticism and pagan philosophical culture, a project which culminated in the publication of his book Subversive Virtue (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995). He is the author of various articles and reviews which have appeared in classics, history, and religion journals, and takes an active part in learned societies in these disciplines. Courses he currently teaches include: Greek Roman Mythology, Gender Sexuality in Antiquity, and Greek Roman Religion.

Special Fields
Second Century C.E., Later Roman Empire, Ancient Religion & Early Christianity, Visuality in Literature & Visual Aspects of Cultural Production

Previous Positions

  • Assistant Professor, then Associate Professor of Classics, University of Kentucky, 1995-
  • Interim Director of the Program in Classics, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL, 1993-95
  • Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics, Rollins College, 1991-95
  • Instructor in Liberal Studies, St. John's University, Collegeville, MN, 1980-81
  • Assistant Director, N.E.H. Christian Humanism Project, St. John's University, 1978-81
Selected Publications: 


More Than Meets the Eye: Image, Text, and Visuality in the Second to Fourth Centuries, C.E.  Manuscript of an approximately 250-page book, in preparation.

Subversive Virtue: Asceticism and Authority in the Second-Century Pagan World.  University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995.

Early Monastic Rules: The Rules of the Fathers and the Regula Orientalis.  Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1982.  (Co-translator)

Articles & Chapters:

“Seeing God(s): Images and the Divine in Pagan and Christian Thought in the Second to Fourth Centuries C.E.”  Studia Patristica 45 (2013), 7.5-10.

“Late Antique Visuality: Blurring the Boundaries Between Word and Image, Pagan and Christian.”  In David Brakke, Deborah Deliyannis, & Edward Watts, eds., Shifting Cultural Frontiers in Late Antiquity, 139-149.  Farnham, Surrey & Burlington VT: Ashgate, 2012.

“Living Images in the Ekphrasis of Homer and Hesiod.” In Papers of the Langford Latin Seminar 15:113-141.  Prenton: Oxbow Books, 2012.

“Biblical Not Scriptural: Perspectives on Early Christian Art from Contemporary Classical           Scholarship.”  Studia Patristica 44 (2010): 3-8.

“Metal Maidens, Achilles’ Shield, and Pandora: The Beginnings of ‘Ekphrasis.’”  American Journal of Philology 130 (2009): 1-23.

“Verbal and Visual Representation: Art and Text, Culture and Power in Late Antiquity.”  In Philip Rousseau, ed., A Companion to Late Antiquity, 285-305.  Oxford: Blackwell, 2009.  This volume  has received the Association of American Publishers 2009 PROSE ("Professional and Scholarly Excellence") award for Best Single-Volume Reference in Humanities and Social Sciences.

 “Living Icons: The Metaphor of Imaging from the Second to Fourth Centuries, C.E.”  Studia Patristica 40 (2006): 209-214.

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