Location: Bowdoin / mnerdahl


Michael D. Nerdahl

Lecturer in Classics

Contact Information


Sills Hall - 9

Teaching this semester

CLAS 2210/HIST 2144. Reacting to Democracy

Explores the nature of democracy in two distinct historical eras: ancient Greece and the founding of the United States. Employs well-developed classroom simulations. The first half of the semester runs "The Threshold of Democracy: Athens in 403 BCE"; the second, "America’s Founding: The Constitutional Convention of 1787." Students take on roles of historical personae in both of these simulations, which permit them to explore critical events and ideas in novel ways. Pairing games that explore the foundations of democracy in both ancient and modern times permits exploration of this important topic across time and space.

GRK 2204. Homer

An introduction to the poetry of Homer. Focuses both on reading and on interpreting Homeric epic. All materials and coursework in Greek.

Michael Nerdahl

Michael is a lifelong Badger, having received his B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. He teaches classes of all levels in Latin and Greek, as well as courses in ancient culture (Mythology, Greek Civilization) and Roman history and politics, particularly of the Roman Republic. 

Michael specializes in Greco-Roman historiography, with a particular focus on literary and ideological filtering in historians of the Roman empire. His focus has been on the Imperial Greek philosopher/moralist Plutarch, and he has published and lectured extensively on the Parallel Lives.  Plutarch, a mainland Greek who became a Roman citizen, was primarily concerned with instructing his students on how to become better individuals and statesmen through a process of self-reflection and critical thought, and his Parallel Lives are an attempt to present universal examples that instruct and teach citizens and politicians across the ages.  As Emerson wrote, "One cannot read Plutarch without a tingling of the blood."

Michael hosts Latin Tea Friday afternoons, where we read original texts and cookies in order to buck up before facing the drudgery of a weekend without Latin class.  He is also an advocate of oral Latin, Nero, Themistocles, and the Milwaukee Brewers.