Joseph Howley

Associate Professor of classics

(212) 854-4551
617E Hamilton Hall
Office hours: Wednesday 10:00am - 12:00pm Profile

Research Interests

  • Imperial Latin prose

  • Imperial Greek literature (the “second sophistic”)

  • Antiquarian, miscellaneous, and encyclopedic writing

  • Intellectual history

  • History of the book and of reading

  • Media history and studies

  • Early modern printing of Classical texts

  • Phonography and recordings of Greek and Latin

Joseph A. Howley holds a PhD in Classics (2011) and an M Litt in Ancient History (2007) from the University of St Andrews, in Scotland, and a BA (2006) in Ancient Studies from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).  He teaches Latin, the history of the book, and Literature Humanities in Columbia’s Core Curriculum.  He is Secretary of the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School in Charlottesville, VA.

 Prof. Howley has published on the Noctes Atticaeof Aulus Gellius and its intersections with Roman intellectual and reading cultures, including Roman study abroad and juristic writing.  His first book, Aulus Gellius and Roman Reading Culture: Text, Presence and Imperial Knowledge in the Noctes Atticae, was published in 2018 by Cambridge University Press.

 Prof. Howley’s current projects focus on the history of the book, including the early modern printing of Classical literature and the fate of Classical paratext in medieval and early modern transmission and remediation; early phonographic recordings of Greek and Latin literature; imperial-era retellings of classical myths about books and writing; and the poetics of textual materiality in Roman imperial literature.

 His current book project, Slavery and the Roman Book, is a history of the Roman book seen through the lens of the enslaved labor on which it depended: for the composition of literature, the reading of books, and the production of new copies.  He is also the co-organizer of the workshop series MATERIA: New Approaches to Material Text in the Roman World ( and founding co-chair of the Columbia University Seminar on Material Texts (


Selected publications

Aulus Gellius and Roman Reading Culture: Text, Presence and Imperial Knowledge in the Noctes Atticae(2018). Cambridge University Press. 

“Book-burning and the uses of writing in ancient Rome” (2017) in Journal of Roman Studies107: 213-236.

 “Tables of Contents” in Book Parts, in production for Oxford University Press, Dennis Duncan and Adam Smyth (eds). 

 “Reading in Ancient Rome” in Further Reading, in production for Oxford University Press, Matthew Rubery and Leah Price (eds). 

 “‘Heus tu, rhetorisce’: Gellius, Cicero, Plutarch, and Roman Study Abroad” in: Jesper Madsen and Roger Rees (eds) 2014, Roman Rule in Greek and Latin Writing. Double Vision. Leiden: Brill. pp 163-192. 

“Valuing the mediators of antiquity in the Noctes Atticae” in: James Ker and Christoph Pieper (eds) 2014, Valuing antiquity in antiquity(based on 2012 Penn-Leiden Colloquium). Leiden: Brill. pp 465-484. 

“Why read the jurists? Aulus Gellius on reading across disciplines” in Paul J. du Plessis (ed.) 2013, New Frontiers. Law and Society in the Roman World. Edinburgh University Press. pp 9-29.