UW Alum Leverages Classical Language Study

Alumnus Randolph Ford earned both a B.A. and M.A. in Scandinavian Studies, while also taking both Greek and Latin through the Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies department. He completed his Ph.D. at the Institute for Study of the Ancient Word at New York University.

Ford currently teaches at Skidmore and has just published a book titled, Rome, China, and the Barbarians: Ethnographic Traditions and the Transformation of Empires.

Ford’s book has received high praise:

“a sweeping and highly informative survey that reaches back to the Homeric and Western Zhou traditions. … painstaking and nuanced analysis … [Ford’s] rich study is doubly rewarding, by showing what sustained comparative approach can accomplish but also how much more remains to be done. … For now, we are very much in [Ford’s] debt for unveiling new vistas. Following his lead is bound to be a challenge: collaboration among area specialists will be essential for making this line of research take off.” Walter Scheidel, The Classical Review, editor of Rome and China: Comparative Perspectives on Ancient World Empires

“With the comparison of a Greco-Roman and a Chinese historical work from the period of transition between late antiquity and the early middle ages, Ford’s work is groundbreaking in comparative studies. This is accomplished on the basis of an impressive double competence in the study of classical antiquity and Sinology and a comprehensive consideration of multilingual secondary scholarship. … the book as a whole represents a remarkable achievement which calls for further research.” [Mit dem Vergleich eines griechisch-römischen und eines chinesischen Geschichtswerkes aus der Übergangszeit zwischen Spätantike und frühem Mittelalter erschließt Ford komparatistisches Neuland. Dies geschieht auf der Basis einer eindrucksvollen klassisch-altertumswissenschaftlichen/sinologischen Doppelkompetenz und unter umfassender Berücksichtigung der vielsprachigen Sekundärliteratur. … stellt das Buch insgesamt eine beachtenswerte, zu weiterer Forschung anregende Leistung dar.Fritz-Heiner Mutschler, Historische Zeitschrift, coeditor of Conceiving the Empire: China and Rome Compared

“This is a valuable and innovative contribution to the relatively new subfield of Rome-China comparative studies. … Ford writes with admirable clarity … anyone venturing to [revisit the polemical and political agendas of the Jin shu chronicles and colophons] should now use Ford’s fascinating and groundbreaking book as a starting point.” Shao-yun Yang, Journal of Asian Studies, author of The Way of the Barbarians: Redrawing Ethnic Boundaries in Tang and Song China