An Assistant Professor in Classics, Miller’s academic interests range broadly across ancient Greek literature and culture, with a current focus on the representation of athletes in ancient Greek poetry and inscriptions — and on ancient sporting equipment.
“My initial reaction was to be surprised and then stunned,” he said of his appointment. “I know a lot of people from across all faculties applied for this, so it’s a great honour.”
During his three-year term, Miller will be working on a book that will be part of a series focusing on the ways classical antiquity continues to influence the contemporary world.
“I’m very excited to have a book in this series since it complements the mission of a public university to disseminate knowledge and aligns really well with what I’ve tried to do in the New Directions in Classics public lecture series,” he explained. “This part of my work as Chancellor’s Research Chair will therefore engage with a topic — sports and history — that continues to fascinate the modern world and which has scholarly and public appeal.”
The bulk of the book, Miller added, will look at the interpretation, influence, and adaptation of ancient sports in the global sporting culture that emerged in the 19th century, including the modern Olympic Games, but also physical fitness culture, the architecture of stadiums, and sports art and cinema.
Since arriving to UWinnipeg in 2016, Miller has worked tirelessly to create a lecture series for faculty, students, staff, and the general public. In 2017-18, he launched New Directions in Classics with co-organizer and alumna Ruth Dickinson. The series showcases Classics as relevant and fundamental to the study of arts, culture, and language in the contemporary world.
The series expanded this past academic year to 10 lectures, attracting nearly 500 audience members. Speakers addressed a wide range of topics, including UWinnipeg’s collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts (The Lux Project), the modern revival of ancient beer recipes (in partnership with Barn Hammer Brewing Company), and Indigenous North American interpretations of ancient Greece and Rome.
“It wouldn’t be possible for me to do the lecture series or have this honour without the extremely strong support of my colleagues in the Department of Classics,” Miller said. “They’re models of collegiality and scholarly generosity, and I couldn’t ask for a better academic home.”
Former Chancellor’s Research Chairs include: Dr. Craig Willis, Biology; Dr. Angela Failler, Women and Gender Studies; Dr. Melanie Martin, Physics; Dr. Bruno Silvestre, Business; Dr. Kevin Walby, Criminal Justice; Dr. Renée Douville, Biology; Dr. Delia Gavrus, History; and Dr. Nora Casson, Geography.