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OWU's Lateiner Honored with Bjornson Award from Ohio Humanities Council


December 24, 2003

DELAWARE, OHIO -- Dr. Donald Lateiner, longtime professor of humanities-classics at Ohio Wesleyan University, was selected by the Ohio Humanities Council as the recipient of the 2003 Bjornson Award for Distinguished Service in the Humanities.

Randall Waldron, professor emeritus of English at OWU, nominated Lateiner for the award. "Donald Lateiner is an individual who for a quarter of a century has given extraordinarily dedicated service to furthering the humanities in central Ohio and beyond," Waldron wrote in his nomination.

Lateiner was selected as the recipient of the Bjornson Award for Distinguished Service because of his outstanding career contributions to the public knowledge and appreciation of the humanities. According to Lateiner, the humanities are important because they help people relate to others and to those who came before in history. The humanities includes, among others, literature, music, visual arts and theatre -- and Lateiner says all of those genres are opportunities for experience, "even if you don't like it."

"People are certainly aware of entertainment," comments Lateiner. "A lot of people are accustomed to what comes easily," he adds. In Lateiner's opinion, the humanities need assistance and promotion so people can see what's happening not only in Ohio, but what's happened before.

Pat Williamsen, Director of Development of the Ohio Humanities Council, says, "Dr. Lateiner's scholarly work embodies the spirit of the Bjornson Award, demonstrating the public significance of academic humanities. In addition to his impeccable academic credentials, the awards committee was impressed with his commitment to bringing the humanities to off-campus audiences and sharing with them the insights and relevance of the classics on our everyday lives."

Lateiner's commitment to the humanities at OWU and beyond includes, among others: bringing scholars to OWU to discuss and lecture on various topics in the humanities, participating in the Columbus Society of the Archaeological Institute of America as an active member, president and vice-president, organizing and directing a weekly Medieval Latin reading group, and co-directing and organizing an "Honors Latin Day" at OWU in collaboration with the Ohio Classical Conference.

Most recently, Lateiner was invited by Barnes & Noble, the nation's largest bookseller, to write the introduction and annotations for its upcoming edition of the Histories of the Greek historian Herodotus.

Lateiner is an active lecturer and guest speaker at public schools and numerous colleges and universities throughout the nation including Ohio State, Brown, Princeton, Yale and Rutgers. Since the 1970s he has written countless articles for various publications, which are widely used by scholars and students of ancient history. He is also the author of two books, The Historical Method of Herodotus and Sardonic Smile: Nonverbal Behavior in Homeric Epic. Another book, Entrepreneurs of the Supernatural: New Cult and Old Practices in the Greek East during the Early Roman Empire, is in progress.

Lateiner has taught at OWU since 1979 and since 1993 he has been the John R. Wright Professor of Greek and Humanities. His teaching experience includes Greek and Latin languages and literatures, Greek and Roman history, ancient Greek and Roman literature in translation, the Bronze Age and Classical archaeology, comparative folklore: myth and religion, the ancient novel, women in antiquity and traditional epics. Lateiner previously taught at San Francisco State, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania. He has been a visiting professor at Syracuse University and Carleton College. Lateiner has a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Chicago, a master's degree in history from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in classics from Stanford University.

The Bjornson Award for Distinguished Service in the Humanities is named in memory of Richard Bjornson who was a member of the Ohio Humanities Council and a professor of French and comparative studies at Ohio State. Each recipient receives an engraved plaque and $1,000. Toni Morrison, Ohio native and author, was the first recipient of the Bjornson Award in 1991.

Lateiner was presented with the award Dec. 5 at the council's annual meeting and banquet in Columbus.