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Harriet Fertik

Harriet Fertik picture

Harriet Fertik

Assistant Professor


426 University Hall
230 N. Oval Mall
Columbus, OH 43210

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Areas of Expertise

  • Roman literature and political thought
  • classical receptions
  • Black classicisms


  • Ph.D. University of Michigan
  • A.B. University of Chicago

Harriet Fertik's research focuses on literature and political thought in the early Roman empire and on classical receptions. Her first book, The Ruler’s House: Contesting Power and Privacy in Julio-Claudian Rome (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019) explored how Romans used the world of the house to interpret and interrogate the role of the emperor. She co-edited (with Mathias Hanses) Above the Veil: Revisiting the Classicism of W. E. B. Du Bois, a special issue of the International Journal of the Classical Tradition (2019).  Her recent publications include "Learning from Women: Mothers, Slaves, and Regime Change in Tacitus’ Dialogue on Orators" (Polis 2020), "Women’s Work: Exploring a Tradition of Inquiry with W. E. B. Du Bois, Anna Julia Cooper, and Aristotle” (The Routledge Handbook of Women and Ancient Greek Philosophy, 2024) and "Antiquity, Tradition, and Anti-Blackness in Hannah Arendt’s Public Sphere" (TAPA 2024). Her current book project, Position and Persuasion: W. E. B. Du Bois, Hannah Arendt, and the Uses of Antiquity, explores how and why Du Bois, a Black American writer, sociologist, and civil rights activist, and Arendt, a German Jewish refugee, essayist, and political theorist, deploy Greek, Roman, and Jewish antiquity in their accounts of political education. By putting these thinkers in dialogue, she aims to develop a new approach to two interrelated problems in the study of Classics, which have implications for humanistic scholarship more generally. The first is the status of “tradition,” a word that has become bound up with concerns about the exclusivity of classical canons. The second concerns positionality, particularly how our situatedness as scholars informs our interpretations of the ancient past. 

Fertik is one of the founding members of Eos, a society dedicated to Africana receptions of ancient Greece and Rome, and serves on its executive committee. She co-organized (with Anna Wainwright) the interdisciplinary conference “Mother’s Milk: Breastfeeding from Metaphor to Practice.” She was previously an associate professor of Classics at the University of New Hampshire and held an Alexander von Humboldt research fellowship at the Humboldt University of Berlin. At Ohio State, she is an affiliate of Comparative Studies, the Melton Center for Jewish Studies, and NESA (Near Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures).