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Interests include comparative literature, classical traditions, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, ethics and literature, and the history of literary theory.

Professor Shankman earned his first B.A. in Classics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1969, a second B.A. in English from Cambridge University in 1971, and his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University in 1977. He is Distinguished Professor of English and Classics in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon and Director of the Oregon Humanities Center; he is also a participating faculty member in the Comparative Literature program at Oregon. Before coming to Oregon, he taught at Princeton, Columbia, and Harvard.

His work in the Western classical tradition includes Popeís Iliad: Homer in the Age of Passion (1983) and In Search of the Classic: Reconsidering the Classical Tradition, Homer to Valéry and Beyond (1994). His Penguin edition of Popeís Iliad appeared in 1996. Some of his recent work, including (co-authored with Stephen Durrant) The Siren and the Sage: Knowledge and Wisdom in Ancient Greece and China (2000) and Early China/Ancient Greece: Thinking through Comparisons (co-edited by Stephen Durrant, 2002), compares classical traditions. With Stephen Durrant and four others, he is the editor of The World of Literature (1999), an anthology of world literature from a global perspective, which contains some of his poetic translations from Chinese, Greek, and Latin. He is the author of Kindred Verses (2000), a chapbook of poems; his poem «On Rembrandt’s Sacrifice of Isaac (1635), in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia» is forthcoming in Literary Imagination. He recently completed a book-manuscript entitled Other Others: Levinas/Literature/Intercultural Studies. He is currently secretary of the Committee on Intercultural Studies of the International Comparative Literature Association. As the host of a cable-access TV show («UO Today») produced at the University of Oregon as an outreach effort of the Oregon Humanities Center, which he directs, he has interviewed nearly three-hundred guests.