I became an ancient historian quite by accident. After being married and having five children, I went to the University of California. I needed a third course: In the catalogue my eye fell on a seminar about the Julio-Claudians, and I thought, "I'd like to know more about them." Taking that course constituted my Damascus Moment: I changed my major to History; my decision to do so changed my life!
I've lived in Amsterdam (where I studied music at the Amsterdam Conservatory) for four years, and Rome (where I went on a Fulbright Scholarship and stayed on to do research and write my doctoral dissertation) for almost nine years. Being in Rome, surrounded by layer on layer of history, was a heady experience indeed.
One of my great joys was organising and leading onsite ancient history/archaeology study tours in Italy for the month of January while I was an Assistant Professor at Macalester College, St Paul, Minnesota. I took my students on Rome Walks, to museums and archaeological sites in Rome and its environs as well as the Bay of Naples area and Paestum. I am happy to say that I am still friends with ten of the students with whom I was able to share my Roman Experience.
While in Rome, attending a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship on Death and Commemoration, I became interested in the Columbaria of Imperial Rome, and I was honoured to win the NEH/Archaeological Institute of America/Helen M Woodruff Post-Doctoral Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome, where I continued my studies on these fascinating ancient funeral institutions.
I have written several articles on the Roman historians, Livy and Tacitus, and one on first-century terracotta oil lamps in the shape of sandalled feet, sacred to the Roman-Egyptian god Serapis. I have also written two books: "The Rhetoric of Gender Terms: 'Man,' 'Woman,' and the Portrayal of Character in Latin Prose" (Leiden 1992); and "Tragedy and Rhetoric in Tacitus' Annales" (Ann Arbor 2006).
I am delighted to discover that Classics and Ancient History are thriving on Twitter, where, as well as finding other classicists, ancient historians, and students interested in the ancient world, I also discovered the "Ancient History Encyclopaedia". I am both honoured and pleased to be a contributor.