- Robert Germany
Robert Germany, Associate Professor of Classics at Haverford College, died suddenly on March 7, 2017, a devastating loss to his family, friends, colleagues, and students. Robert was born on November 8, 1974 in Corpus Christi, Texas. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Texas at Austin, graduating with highest honors, with a major in classics and minors in German and mathematics. He then earned a Ph.D. in classics at the University of Chicago and taught for two years at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, before joining the Classics Department at Haverford College in 2008. He was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2015.
Robert originally set out to study Greek religion, but he soon found his passion in Latin literature, and especially Roman comedy. His book Mimetic Contagion, published in 2016 by Oxford University Press, is a work of great richness, which uses a particular episode in one Roman comedy to explore ancient concepts of the mimetic and its effects and in so doing, offers new insights into the Roman theatrical tradition, and ideas about representation and the viewer in the visual arts, cultural constructions of sexual behavior, and the history of classical scholarship. His most recent work includes a series of brilliant essays on aspects of space and time in Roman theater and other cultural arenas, among them “The Unity of Time in Menander” “Civic Reassignment of Space in the Truculentus,” “All the World’s a Stage: Contemplatio Mundi in Early Roman Theater” and his last talk, “ “The Unity of Time in Terence’s Hecyra.” Some of these look forward to what was to be his next project, a wide-ranging investigation of the unity of time in ancient and modern drama, in theory, and in classical scholarship. He maintained a deep interest in Greek and German literature, publishing articles on “The Figure of Echo in the Homeric Hymn to Pan” and “Virgilian Retrospection in Goethe’s Alexis und Dora.” Inspired by a four-month stay in Ethiopia, Robert was beginning work on the Ethiopic translation of the Greek bestiary Physiologus and the surprising relationship between the “three natures” of the lion and Chalcedonian theology, an indication of his ceaseless curiosity and constant growth as a scholar.
Students responded to Robert’s passion and recognized him for the polymath he was: he knew all about everything, and his wide-ranging [End Page 567] and playful intelligence showed the apparently tangential to be germane and revelatory. Robert believed in education as a “full body sport” and he was never content to restrict teaching to the classroom or restrict classroom teaching to traditional methods; he constantly strove to break down the boundaries that separated students from the material they were studying. For his work to bring the ancient world alive to students, Haverford awarded him its “Innovation in Teaching Award” in 2011. Robert was both a mesmerizing lecturer and a gifted leader of discussion, whose encouragement and skillful direction gave students the delight of finding in themselves the capacity to arrive at conclusions that pulled everything together. He would listen to students with glee, praising them for making their point, before telling them they had it exactly backwards. As he then showed them what they had not considered or not known their look of shock would be replaced by a smile. Students found him wise as well as learned; he came at things from unexpected angles and showed them how this could be done; he taught them what it meant to be human. They presented hilarious performances of Roman comedy under his guidance and flocked to his home for reading groups, study sessions, meals, cookies and conversation.
A supportive, affectionate, and ever-enlivening colleague, Robert was a mainstay of Haverford’s happy Classics Department and its cordial collaboration with Bryn Mawr, and a welcome contributor to the bi-college program in Comparative Literature. At weekly departmental meetings he brought the same genial spirit to everything on the table: the latest administrative requirements, pedagogy, his colleagues’ work in progress, movies, and lunch. Robert participated enthusiastically in the life of the college at every level; nothing was ever a chore. He...