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James Zainaldin

Assistant Professor in Classical and Mediterranean Studies
Mellon Foundation Dean's Faculty Fellow in Classical and Mediterranean Studies

James Zainaldin is Assistant Professor and Mellon Foundation Dean’s Faculty Fellow in Classical and Mediterranean Studies at Vanderbilt University. Previously (2021–2023) he was Assistant Professor of Classics and Letters at the University of Oklahoma and concurrently Loeb Classical Library Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. in Classics from Harvard University and a double-B.A. in Classics and Philosophy from Emory University.

Zainaldin’s work focuses on the scientific and technical traditions of ancient Greece and Rome; on ancient philosophy; and on Latin literature, especially of the early Roman Empire. He also works on comparative Greco-Roman/ Chinese studies and the reception of the Western Classics in modern China. As a student of the Chinese tradition, Zainaldin 翟牧泗 continues to pursue studies in classical and Mandarin Chinese.

Zainaldin has published numerous articles on Greco-Roman science and philosophy, on Latin literature, and on Greco-Roman/Chinese comparative studies. His first book is a commentary on the fragmentary Latin agricultural writings of the third-century Roman author Gargilius Martialis, published in the Cambridge “orange” series (Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries, Cambridge UP 2020). His second book (forthcoming), based on his Harvard dissertation, offers the first full-scale, synthetic study of the artes— the systematic prose treatises on the ancient “arts and sciences”—of the early Roman Empire. This project not only reconstructs for the first time the emergence of a distinctive intellectual culture represented by the artes, but also demonstrates the extent and originality of Roman scientific thought. Zainaldin’s third book, under contract for Cambridge’s “green-and-yellow” series and co-authored with Jonathan Master (Emory University), offers a commentary on the Roman philosopher Seneca’s Consolation to Marcia. For more on publications, see his personal website:

In his teaching, Zainaldin enjoys introducing students to topics which are central to his own interests and remain of enduring relevance today, such as ancient science, medicine, and technology; ancient philosophy; and comparative studies between Greece, Rome, and China. He also enjoys teaching Greek and Latin at all levels. Zainaldin is always excited to meet with and support students working in the humanities as well as those majoring in STEM disciplines who have interests in history, philosophy, and more.