Associate Professor of Classics and Chair of the Classics Department
Chair of the Comprehensive Liberal Studies Program
B.A., The College of William and Mary
M.A., M.L.I.S., Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Haller’s scholarly interests include Homer and Archaic Greek poetry; the Classics in popular culture; reception studies, especially the reception of the Classics among the English Romantics; women in the ancient world; and the influence of a classical education on early American thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson, George Wythe, Francis Daniel Pastorius, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. He is a firm believer in the importance of a humanistic education to living a principled, reflective, and responsible life.
He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and regularly presents his scholarship at regional and national professional organizations such as CAAS and CAMWS; he has also served on a range of committees, including as Co-Chair of the Educational Programs Committee, as Faculty Secretary (Fall 2012-Spring 2013; and again starting in Fall 2018), and as a member of Faculty Standards and Welfare, the Academic Excellence and Experiential Learning subcommittees of Strategic Planning (2013-2014), the INTEL Committee, Academic Effectiveness Committee, and the Faculty Mentoring Advisory Committee.
Dr. Haller also serves as Area Chair for the Classical Representations in Popular Culture panel of the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association and scholarship chair for the Tidewater Classical Symposium's annual scholarship fund, and has been active with a number of human rights-related groups such as the campus Homeless Shelter, Amnesty International, and the Tidewater area LGBT "Reel it Out" film series.
During his time at VWU, he has taught every class offered in the Classics Department, including over 246 classes offered as tutorials (the most of any current faculty member) to provide opportunities for students interested in majoring in Latin or Classical Studies the chance to take required coursework.
His hero is his great grandfather Harry William Mann, who spent his life as a Pennsylvania Dutch carpenter, first learning English when he attended a one-room schoolhouse, but who somehow still managed to read voraciously in German and English, write poetry, serve in the infantry during World War I, and build homes for himself and for his children.
Of late, Dr. Haller is uniting his avocation and his vocation by attempting to read some world’s great children’s books to his son Keats William Haller.
When he is not reading to Keats, he is working on his book project on Classical influences in the culture of colonial Tidewater, Virginia.
For more about Dr. Haller, please visit his personal webpage at: https://sites.google.com/view/benjamin-hallerclassics/home
Awards, Grants, Honors
- 2018 Summer: Received funding to participate in the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies Ancient Greece in the Modern College Classroom Seminar on Pausanias in Athens, Nafplio, and other sites in Greece.
- 2018, Nominated by Tom Sienkewicz as a candidate for the CAMWS University-level teaching award (was not the final winner).
- 2017, Summer Received Summer Faculty Development Grant to research a book project arising from the teaching of my Classical Virginia Winter Session Class: “The Classics and the Virginia Experiment in the Seventeenth-Nineteenth Centuries: Voyages of Exploration, Formulating Ideals of Freedom, and the Stain of Slavery in Tidewater and the Piedmont.”
- 2016, Fall Lighthouse On Deck Funding to Host “O Latest Born and Loveliest Vision Far: The 2016 Virginia Wesleyan College Symposium on the Romantics and the Classics.” November 17-19, 2016 at Virginia Wesleyan College.
- 2016, Spring Lighthouse On Deck Funding to host Classics Lecture Series Speaker Michael Panitz, on “Flavius Josephus: Judaism for a Roman Audience.” Thursday, April 7, 2016 at Virginia Wesleyan College.
- 2013-2016 Batten Professorship, Virginia Wesleyan College
- 2014 Nominated for (but did not win) Samuel Nelson Gray Teaching Award
- 2013 Promoted to Associate Professor of Classics and granted Tenure at VWC
- 2012 Honorary membership in VWC’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the undergraduate History Honor Society.
- 2011 Award for Outstanding Volunteer, for Dedicated Leadership as Manager of the On-Campus Winter Homeless Shelter
- 2010 Sara Rose Award for work with the Homeless Shelter and Stand Against Racism (VWC Community Service Office)
- 2008-present Humanities Division, VWC: Consistently received rating of “Exceeds Expectations” on Divisional Evaluation Letter for all Three Areas
- 2009, Summer Faculty Development Grant, Virginia Wesleyan College
- 1997-2003; 2006-07 Teaching Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh
- 2001 Greek Nationality Room Scholarship, for study at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, University of Pittsburgh
- 1997 Highest Honors, Honors Thesis, College of William and Mary
- 1996 Phi Beta Kappa, College of William and Mary
- Coordinator, Department of Classics, VWC
- Humanities Representative to Undergraduate Research Committee, VWC
- Area Chair, Classical Representations in Popular Culture, Southwestern Popular/American Culture Association
- Successfully obtained Virginia Department of Education approval for a Teaching Endorsement in Latin for VWC. Students who major in Latin and complete the requisite coursework in Education will now be able to leave VWC prepared to teach high school Latin.
Recent Events Organized
- “O Latest Born and Loveliest Vision Far”: The 2016 Virginia Wesleyan College Symposium on The Romantics and the Classics, November 17-19, 2016. A news release about this Symposium from the Society for Classical Studies’ webpage can be found here.
- Classics Department Lecture Series, Spring 2016: Rabbi Michael Panitz, “Flavius Josephus: Judaism for a Roman Audience.” 6:00 Thursday, April 7, 2016.
Recent Scholarly Presentations and Publications
- 2018 “The Metamorphoses of George Sandys: Ovid Commentary as Self-Making in Virginia’s Jamestown Colony,” at the 114th annual meeting of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South in Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 12, 2018, 8:30 a.m.
- 2018 “Classical Counterfactuals: George Sandys’s 1632 Metamorphoses Commentary and “Good Newes from Virginia”,” February, 2018, The Annual Meeting of the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association, Albuquerque, NM.
- Dr. Haller presented a paper entitled, “New England Trout and Midas in the Shadow of Monument Mountain: The Yankee Reception of Classical Mythology in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s A Wonder Book,” at the annual meeting of the Southwestern Popular/American Culture Association in February of 2017.
- A peer-reviewed volume co-edited by Dr. Haller on the Classics in popular culture can be found here.
- A recent review of a work on Women in the Ancient World to which Dr. Haller has contributed can be found here.
- Further publications can be viewed here.
Student Evaluation of Teaching
I. Numerical Student Evaluation of Overall Teaching Effectiveness
Overall Teaching Effectiveness:
Virginia Wesleyan University
While the Blackboard evaluation spreadsheet does not compile average data in numerical tables like the University of Pittsburgh’s and William and Mary’s (see below), students generally rank my classes in the 4-5 range (Very good/Excellent), resulting in a general score of 90% or better on most questions. The student comments quoted below have been edited in some instances to correct incidental typos.
II. Student Comments:
In Evaluations, students describe my classes as…
· "Brush up on your writing skills even if you have taken ENG 105 before this - you'll need it!"
· Roman History was "Fun but hard".
· "You learn a lot and it’s fun because the stories are crazy and told by a good storyteller."
· "Take the course because the class is entertaining and the writing material is exciting."
· "Prepare to be amazed, because there is very little that is not somehow connected to and/or influenced by Greek culture in the Western world, as well as other parts."
· "The instructor clearly loves his subject and you can see it in everything he does. He knows it inside and out, so whether you're taking it because you too are genuinely interested or (like me) to fill an empty space in your schedule, you'll still probably have an enjoyable experience either way.”
Informative and Fun (Greek and Roman History):
· "This is a great class that provides detailed information about the Roman Empire. The film clips he shows serve as really helpful reminders for the material. He is always ready and willing to answer any questions that his students have, and he really does try to make it an interactive class."
· "I would tell them there’s a lot of work but an enjoyable class" (Greek History)
· "If you need a history, take it. Other than that I am not really good at history but this is a decent class." (Greek History)
· "This is a great class for you if you are interested in Ancient history and/or sick of the same US and World history you've learned for your whole life. It's also very interesting." (Greek History)
· “This is a fun class where you learn about Greek and Roman History, Early Virginia History, and go on exciting field trips.”
· “It’s a great class to take because it is interesting and fun. The professor is really nice and really loves Va. History.”
Successful in Instructing Latin:
• "Great professor"
• “Dr. Haller gives you every opportunity to succeed, so take advantage".
• "Interesting, engaging, and fun" (LATN 111-112)
• "A great, fun way to learn basic Latin, and a great way to improve vocabulary and analytical thinking skills"(LATN 111-112)
• "a lot of work but very fun" (LATN 111-112)
• "latin is not easy, so study hard" (LATN 111-112)
• "fun and you actually learned something" (LATN 111-112)
• “With an excellent professor, consistent studying and class attendance, and asking for help when you don't understand a topic you will succeed. Latin is not as scary or difficult as many people think (depending on how hard you and your professor make it).” (LATN 213, Intermediate)
• "As in any course, the professor makes the class. With good class attendance and some dedication, with or without past Latin education Haller will help you get through the rough patches in learning Latin." (LATN 213, Intermediate)
• "Latin 213 provides effective elaboration on the concepts covered in lower level Latin classes, and it introduces several new forms that are widely used in later readings." (LATN 213, Intermediate)
• “flexibility, improved understanding of grammar and rhetoric in Latin, fascinating” (LATN 306)
Include Informative Discussion:
“In class, he shows important clips from the movies and holds discussion on different aspects of the movies that we see." (The Ancient World In Cinema)
In the most recent years, students continue to offer favorable comments:
LATN 111-112: Elementary Latin
“In this class you don't just learn Latin. It's also history, interesting trivia, and art. Completely worth it in my opinion”
“This is great as Dr. Haller mentions, for help with the GREs and other higher education examinations.”
“Easy going and a lot of work.”
“A great class”
“I was curious to see if Latin was really for me, but now I need it for my minor.”
“Enlightening, interesting, and helpful”
“Enthusiastic, New found love, Passionate.”
“Friendly, informative, invigorating”
“Enjoyable, easy to learn, and easy to put into practice”
“It’s a very fun class and you learn a lot and the teacher is super awesome. without him teaching it I wouldn’t take it because it is a very hard class but he makes the class easy to understand and the assignments are easy to keep up with."
“If you want to gain a better understanding of grammar and syntax for any language, elementary Latin will be useful to you. It will also help you gain a better appreciation for and improve your vocabulary in any European language you might be studying.”
CLAS 210 Roman History (Spring 2017)
· “Dr. Haller is one of my favorite professors on the campus of VWC”
· “Love love love this instructor. He is so passionate about the subject matter”
· “Great class, excellent professor.”
· “Engaging Intriguing Fast paced”
· “Interesting learning experience, Loads of great information”
· “fun, interesting, enjoyable”
· “This class was very enjoyable. I learned a lot and feel much more informed about Roman culture. I really enjoyed the projects because it added some creativity to the class.”
· “unexpectedly entertaining, fairly evaluated, excellent wide-view answers to questions on course matter Educational, productive, interesting”
· “Knowledge, interesting, creative interesting, good amount of work, well taught”
· “Dr. Haller is always a pleasure to have as a professor. Roman History is a course that will challenge and add on to what you already know about Roman History.”
· “It's a great class to take.”
· “Great class, excellent professor.”
· “Dr. Haller is a great professor who is all about his students.”
· “Overall, the instructor, Dr. Haller, was great and very knowledgeable of the topic. He came to class with a lot of enthusiasm and taught us every day, even on Mondays when we were all tired.”
· “Be prepared for a lot of work. There is going to be a lot of information and very confusing names.”
· “This course is very fun and easy for people who are not that great at studying. The professor is very helpful when you are struggling as well.”
· “It's the most fun I've ever had in a history course, while simultaneously being one of the most informative.”
CLAS 360 Classical Virginia (Winter Session, January 2017)
· "Enlightened, Interesting, Informed”
· “Easy, interesting, and note-taking!”
· “Fast paced, interesting, fun”
· “fast paced trips are fun; enjoyable class”
· “Challenging and rigorous. It felt like a high speed chase through history.”
· “The course was very interesting. It required a lot of reading and preparation, but was very fun. I enjoyed learning different aspects of history that still effect the US today.”
· “Entertaining, information-packed, fun”
· “fun, interesting, He was very thorough in the subject matter.”
· “very informational, fun, interesting”
· “This class made you think a lot, had very interesting field trips, and was challenging.”
· “Very fun class and great teaching style!”
· “Historical, well informed, and fantastic.”
· “Excellent, Helpful and useful, beneficial”
Past teaching evaluations have also contained a number of suggestions for improvement:
“more guided practice”
“a bit dry but worth investigating”
“allow more group work or discussion”
“not always the most fun class but a lot of good information”
I have addressed these complaints in subsequent iterations of classes by demanding more student involvement in class through presentations and projects, including film clips and outings to the Chrysler Museum, Williamsburg, Charlottesville, and other “hands-on” learning exeriences, and by varying the kinds of assignments required for class. These criticisms have generally disappeared from evaluations in more recent years.
Overall Teaching Effectiveness:
While I was only at Lawrence University for one year, numerical data consistently clustered in the Excellent-Good range with the occasional outlier of one or two responses in the “Satisfactory” or “Mediocre” column, and comments were analogous to other institutions (“i loooooove latin! Haller was fantastic and approachable. very knowledgeable in his field!”, is an example of one enthusiastic comment).
One criticism which arose more often than at other institutions involved the pacing of Latin classes: I believe that this arose from the circumstance that Lawrence is on a trimester system, which exacerbated the divide between those who feel that we are moving far too fast and those who felt that we were moving too slowly.
Overall Teaching Effectiveness:
College of William and Mary
The following numbers are my ratings of overall teaching effectiveness at the College of William and Mary in Spring 2006. Students were asked to rank the instructor on the following scale: 1=Poor, 2=Fair, 3=Good, 4=Very Good, 5=Excel.
My mean overall teaching effectiveness
Mean overall teaching effectiveness for all classes using the same evaluation form in the classics department at William and Mary (all tenured and visiting faculty included)
Roman Civilization (CLCV 208-01)
Latin 202-01: Intro Latin Poetry (Ars Amatoria, Selections; Metamorphoses Book 1)
Latin 202-02: Intro Latin Poetry (Ars Amatoria, Selections; Metamorphoses Book 1)
Overall Teaching Effectiveness:
University of Pittsburgh
The chart below contains a representative sample of my teaching evaluations from Latin classes taught at the University of Pittsburgh (first and second semesters). The scale is the same five point scale used at William and Mary. Rankings for semesters not included did not differ significantly from those listed below. The numerical evaluations and following comments come from the same sets of evaluations, with the exception of the inclusion among the comments of excerpts from one semester in which a qualitative questionnaire was given to students.
Level of difficulty: On the survey of class difficulty for the following classes (“Compared to other courses at the same level, the amount of work I did was:”), students consistently ranked the course as “about the same as in most courses I’ve taken” or higher. The majority ranked the level of difficulty as “somewhat more” or “much more” than most courses they had taken.
My Overall Teaching Effectiveness (Class Mean)
Latin: First Semester (1999)
Latin: First Semester (2000)
Latin: Second Semester (2001)
Latin: Second Semester (2002)
Latin: Second Semester (2003)
II. Sample Student Comments from Latin I and II
“He was always well-prepared to teach and was always organized…. Always encouraged us to participate w/o making us feel uncomfortable.”
“Ben made very good study guides, thorough handouts, and was very enthusiastic and patient with his instruction.”
“He is great at providing feedback, clarifying areas with which students have trouble, very gentle in correcting mistakes, and gets homeworks back quicker than most profs.”
“I’m glad I took this class with Ben. I don’t think I would have done as well if anyone else had taught the class.”
“He holds an abundance of patience and respect for his class and is willing to go out of his way to help ensure they succeed.”
“Instructor was encouraging, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable… he has a high motivational capacity.”
“Shared knowledge rather than just presenting it…. Great learning atmosphere…. Kept class on track while allowing expression of personality from students.”
“He is very friendly and a wonderful teacher. He is nice to the students, does a lot to make sure we learn and understand. His games are fun and educational. He seems to honestly care about us and how we do. A+++! All-round Great!”
“Ben, you were able to force Wheelock’s Latin Book into my head, 2 days a week in 8 months. Incredible. I couldn’t have done it without handouts, review sheets, notecards, your sense of humor. Quizzes helpful also.”
“One of the best instructors I have ever had. Very clear teacher who maintained a fun and interesting class.”
Day, Kirsten and Benjamin Haller. 2014. “καλ?ν ?νθρωπ?νου β?ου κ?τοπτρον:” Popular Culture as a Pedagogical Lens on Greco-Roman Antiquity. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy 1(1). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/issue-1/popular-culture-as-a-pedagogical-lens-on-greco-roman-antiquity/
Haller, Benjamin S. 2014. “Homeric Parody, the Isle of the Blessed, and the Nature of Paideia in Lucian's Verae Historiae.” In The Ancient Novel and the Frontiers of the Genre. A Supplementum to the journal Ancient Narrative.
Day, Kirsten, and Benjamin Haller, co-editors. 2014. "ΚΑΛΟΝ ΑΝΘΡΩΠΙΝΟΥ ΒΙΟΥΚΑΤΟΠΤΡΟΝ”: Popular Culture as a Pedagogical Lens on Greco-Roman Antiquity. A special issue of Dialogue: The International Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy.
Haller, Benjamin S. 2011. "Doulichion." In Blackwell Homer Encyclopedia, ed. Margalit Finkelberg. Oxford: Blackwell.
------. 2011. "Echinades." In Blackwell Homer Encyclopedia, ed. Margalit Finkelberg. Oxford: Blackwell.
------. 2011. "Geography." In Blackwell Homer Encyclopedia, ed. Margalit Finkelberg. Oxford: Blackwell.
------. 2011. "Ionian Islands." In Blackwell Homer Encyclopedia, ed. Margalit Finkelberg. Oxford: Blackwell.
------. 2011. "Ithaca." In Blackwell Homer Encyclopedia, ed. Margalit Finkelberg. Oxford: Blackwell.
------. 2011. "Landscape." In Blackwell Homer Encyclopedia, ed. Margalit Finkelberg. Oxford: Blackwell.
------. 2011. "Zakynthos." In Blackwell Homer Encyclopedia, ed. Margalit Finkelberg. Oxford: Blackwell.
------. 2009. "Antigone." In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, ed. Michael Gagarin. New York: Oxford University Press.
------. 2009. "Narcissus." In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, ed. Michael Gagarin. New York: Oxford University Press.
------. 2009. “Pandora.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, ed. Michael Gagarin. New York: Oxford University Press.
------. 2009 “Pygmalion.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, ed. Michael Gagarin. New York: Oxford University Press.
Haller, Benjamin. 2016. “Powell (B.B.) (trans.) Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Powell (B.B.) (trans.) Homer: the Odyssey.” CR 66.2.
Contributor of articles and Collaborator to the Online Companion to Raia, Ann, and Cecelia Lusching, Judith Lynn Sebasta. 2005. Worlds of Roman Women: A Latin Reader. Newburyport, MA. Focus: http://www2.cnr.edu/home/araia/companion.html.
Ancient Greek Epic
Ancient Latin Language, Literature, and Culture
This represents a sample of recent courses taught by this professor. For the most current course information, consult WebAdvisor "Search for Courses".
CLAS330*01 Tpc:Ancnt Epic:J.R.R. Tolkien
CLAS105*01 Classical Mythology
CLAS105*02 HNRS: Classical Mythology
CLAS450*01 TU:Senior Seminar in Classics
LATN305*01 TU:Tpc:Latn Prose:Medieval La
GREK213*01 TU:Intermediate Ancient Greek
LATN213*01 TU: Intermediate Latin
GREK122*01 TU:Beginning Ancient Greek II
CLAS105*01 Classical Mythology
CLAS209*01 Greek History
LATN111*01 Beginning Latin I
CLAS209*02 HNRS: Greek History
LATN306*01 TU:Tpc:Poetry Virgil's Aeneid
LATN305*01 TU:Tpc: Latn Prose - Seneca
LATN306*02 TU: Tpc: Virgil
CLAS450*01 TU:Senior Seminar in Classics
LATN305*02 TU: Topics in Latin Prose
CLAS360*01 Classical Virginia