Episode 3

Professor Shadi Bartsch

University of Chicago

Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer works on Roman imperial literature, the history of rhetoric and philosophy, and on the reception of the western classical tradition in contemporary China. She is the author of five books on the ancient novel, Neronian literature, political theatricality, and Stoic philosophy, the most recent of which is Persius: A Study in Food, Philosophy, and the Figural (Winner of the 2016 Goodwin Award of Merit). She has also edited or co-edited 7 wide-ranging essay collections (two of them Cambridge Companions) and the “Seneca in Translation” series from the University of Chicago. Bartsch’s new translation of Vergil’s Aeneid is published by Random House.




EB White, Charlotte’s Web

At age of 10, compassion for animals as sentient beings, not as the food-supply of humankind. Shadi eventually became a vegetarian.

Homer, Odyssey,

At age 12 or so, the constant traveling spoke to her, but more than that the way Odysseus reshaped himself for different audiences in difficult cultures—the “man of many turns.” The absence of a homeward voyage in her life. This book also influenced her career choice.

William Golding, The Lord of the Flies

At age 12 or so, the tension between civilization and the will to power

Chinua Achebe, Arrow of God

As a teenager, the strangeness of Christianity in a Nigerian context

Sophocles, Antigone

In her 20s, the idea that two opposed sets of values might have equal claim to validity, the need to rise above one view.

Martha Nussbaum, The Fragility of Goodness

In her 20s, the fragility of goodness

Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem

In her 30s, a Report on the Banality of Evil. Combined with the now discredited Milgram experiments.

Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity

Daniel Bell, The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy