University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Shear, Julia L., Ph.D.

Julia L. Shear, Ph.D.
Onassis Visiting Instructor, Department of History at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul
Elected: 1998 (Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World Graduate Group)

Julia is an historian of ancient Greece and an archaeologist with a particular interest in the ancient city of Athens. She is currently an Onassis Visiting Instructor in the Department of History at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul where she teaches ancient Greek history and classical archaeology. As an undergraduate, Julia studied Classics at Harvard University and spent a semester in Rome at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies. After she graduated, she spent a year in Athens where, as the John Williams White Fellow, she did the regular program of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Julia then came to the University of Pennsylvania in the first class of students in the Graduate Group of Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World. Interested already both in history and in archaeology, she wrote her doctoral dissertation on the history and development of the Panathenaia, the most important religious festival in ancient Athens. Part of this project was supported by the Kolb Foundation, after Julia was elected a Junior Fellow in 1998. Having completed her doctoral degree, she spent four years in Cambridge as a postdoctoral researcher on the AHRB Anatomy of Cultural Revolution Project, which was jointly located in the Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge and King's College. Subsequently, she taught at the University of Glasgow for four years and then was in Athens for four years as a Senior Associate Member of the American School of Classical Studies. Julia has excavated extensively in Greece, Cyprus, and Italy.

In her research, Julia uses both written evidence and material culture to provide a holistic picture of Athenian society and culture. She is particularly interested in how the Athenians remembered and responded to the city's past(s). These issues played an important part in how the Athenians responded publicly to the oligarchic revolutions at the end of the fifth century B.C. when oligarchs twice overthrew the democracy, as she has discussed in her book Polis and Revolution: Responding to Oligarchy in Classical Athens (Cambridge, 2011). It focuses particularly on the recreation of democracy and the city, both ritually and physically, in the aftermath of these coups and on how these revolutions were remembered and forgotten. Julia's book was shortlisted for the Runciman Award 2012. The politics of Athenian collective or social memory is a related area of interest for Julia and she has plans in the future to write a book about these processes. Her main current research focuses on Athenian religion, especially the Panathenaia, and she is writing a book about how the festival was a place for constructing Athenian identities and how it affected those identities. This work develops directly out of her doctoral dissertation. She also works extensively on Athenian inscriptions, documents carved on stone and so made public, and they appear in many of her articles and in her book. She focuses on them not only as texts of documents, but also as monuments in their own right that belong in a particular spatial setting and context.


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