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James Patterson


BA Classics, University of Massachusetts Amherst (2003)
MAT Latin and Classical Humanities, University of Massachusetts Amherst (2006)
PhD Classics, University of Texas at Austin (in progress)


My dissertation is on time and memory in Augustine's Confessions.  More broadly, my interests include religion and philosophy in Late Antiquity, cognitive history, and historical linguistics (esp. early Italic, Etruscan, Greek, and late Latin/early Romance).  


I teach Latin and Greek from a combination of three pedagogical approaches: the reading approach (that is, the inductive approach, like how you learned your own native language), the grammar approach (which emphasizes the formal rules of a given language), and the linguistics approach (which explains why a language works and develops the way it does).  

Doubtless, the purpose of an ancient language program is to teach students to read ancient texts.  Some aspects of languages, like Latin and Greek, are intuitive (hence, the reading approach), while others require more formal instruction (hence, the grammar approach).  Meanwhile, a select amount of linguistics eases the difficulty of learning seemingly arbitrary rules of grammar and endless charts that otherwise have to be learned by rote.  In short: linguistics makes grammar sensical, if not even predictable; and a strong foundation in grammar improves one's ability to read Latin and Greek accurately and proficiently.  

Current course: LAT 507 (Fall 2012)

Courses taught:

  • At the University of Massachusetts Amherst: 1st semester Latin (OLC); 4th semester Latin (ER3); Intensive Latin II (OLC and selections); Greek Mythology (3 times online)
  • At the University of Texas: 1st semester Latin (Latin 506, Wheelock); 2nd semester Latin (Latin 507, Wheelock and Caesar); Intensive Latin (506Q, using Learn to Read Latin); 3rd semester Latin (Latin 311, once Petronius, twice Vergil); 4th semester Latin (Latin 312, Cicero); Summer Greek I (twice); Summer Greek II (Homer, Euripides, Plato); Third-Semester Greek (Greek 311, conference course)
  • At West Springfield High School: 1st semester Latin (two sections); 3rd semester Latin

Office: WAG 11
Office Hours (Fall 2012): TuWTh 11-12.


My CV is available here.

My work on Etruscan and early Italic languages is available through the Center for Etruscan Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

I also have a project (once under the supervision of the late Gary Matthews) on teaching children critical thinking skills via Latin philosophical texts.  The project's website is available here [coming soon].

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