Professor of Classics, University of Pennsylvania, where he is alsoVice Provost for
Information Systems and Computing, is the author of the monumental three volume commentary
on the Confessions (Oxford University Press). His work has centered on the late
antique remaking of culture. The age from 300-600 saw the transformation of textual canons
and textual practices and the creation of new textual communities. He has rebelled against
old typologies of continuity and change (embodied in loaded words like "pagan"
and "Christian") and sought to find ways to describe a crucial period sine
ira et studio. His 1979 study of Cassiodorus focused on the 'novum organon'
of the monastic library, while his work on Augustine, and in particular the
commentary on the Confessions, has explored in minute detail the interplay of
authorship and scripture. The revolutions in information technology that have seized our
own culture's attention in the last few years have given him the opportunity to make
connections between ancient and modern moments of change, most notably in his 1998 Avatars
of the Word: From Papyrus toCyberspace. His present work continues to
stretch from the fourth century to the twenty-first, consciously attempting to use the
advantage of view from the present rapidly changing cultural/communications scene to
reread the late antique past repeatedly, and from that to learn to read the present in
different ways as well.