Dr. Kassandra J. Miller
The social history of ancient Greece and Rome, ancient medicine, time and timekeeping, gender and sexuality, science and technology, magic, astrology, constructions of difference
Kassandra J. Miller is an Assistant Professor of Classics at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, where she is also a “walk-along” with the Colby College Justice Think Tank, a program supporting the independent research of incarcerated scholars. She earned her Ph.D. in Classics from the University of Chicago and, before joining the faculty at Colby, held Visiting Assistant Professorships at Union College and Bard College. Her research focuses on the social history of time and timekeeping, particularly as it relates to Greek and Roman medical and ritual healing practices. Her most recent publications in this area include Time and Ancient Medicine: How Sundials and Water Clocks Changed Medical Science (Oxford University Press, 2023) and Down to the Hour: Short Time in the Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East (co-edited with Sarah Symons, Brill, 2020).
As part of the E-C Chronoi working group "Synchronizing the Body in Ancient Medicine and Philosophy," Miller is critically examining efforts made in the Roman Imperial period to synchronize (or pointedly desynchronize) women's bodily rhythms with external patterns, both natural (e.g., the moon's phases) and man-made (e.g., normative durations of pregnancy, menstruation, or breastfeeding). She is interested both in the roles that these temporal frameworks could play in establishing or reinforcing hierarchies of gender, class, and civic status and in how women might work within or against these frameworks to challenge such hierarchies and exert measures of control over their own bodies.
Roman authors, like Juvenal in his sixth satire, often portray women as “doing time wrong.” They stay out too late, perform tasks too slowly, or become unhealthily attached to their astrological calendars; timekeeping and temporal regulation are presented, instead, as a man’s game. Despite the satire’s exaggerations, it captures an idea that people in power have continued to propagate: namely, that subalterns, including women, are in various ways out of sync with members of the dominant class, who are the true architects and custodians of time.
My project explores the intersection of time, medicine, gender, and agency in Greco-Roman antiquity and how temporal frameworks could be used to reinforce or challenge hierarchies of gender, class, and civic status. Specifically, I ask: how were women’s biological “clocks” and “calendars” imagined to synchronize with or pointedly deviate from external temporal frameworks, like the phases of the moon or normative reproductive timelines? What kinds of violence could these constructed synchronies and asynchronies do to women of different backgrounds, and how might such women have exerted temporal control nonetheless?
My study covers menstrual regulation, the timing of sex, the durations of fetal gestation and breastfeeding, and perceptions of post-menopausal old age across class and civic status. Though I focus on the Roman Imperial period, I also address Egyptian, Assyro-Babylonian, and Classical Greek precedents. I focus particularly on gynecological material produced both by practicing physicians and by medically-inclined elites, endeavoring to read both with and against the grain and place these texts in dialogue with non-medical literary, papyrological, epigraphic, archaeological, and art historical evidence.
Assistant Professor of Classics, Colby College
Co-chair (with Elizabeth Bobrick, Wesleyan) of SCS-affiliate group Classics and Social Justice
Faculty "Walk-Along," Colby College Justice Think Tank
Co-organizer (with Colin Webster, UC Davis) of "Slavery and Technology in Greco-Roman Worlds" conference, January 2024
Previously Held Positions:
Visiting Assistant Professor of Classical Studies, Bard College
Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics, Union College
Forthcoming. "The Magic Hour: Cultures of Timekeeping in GEMF 57 / PGM IV." In A Kind of Magic, edited by R. Edmonds, C. López-Ruiz and S. Toralles-Tovar. New York: Routledge.
2023. Time and Ancient Medicine: How Sundials and Water Clocks Changed Medical Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2020. "Hourly Timekeeping and the Problem of Irregular Fevers." In Down to the Hour: Short Time in the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East, edited by K. J. Miller and S. Symons, 271-292. Leiden: Brill.
Thank You for Another Successful Year
February 23, 2023
February 23, 2023
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February 23, 2023