Texas Tech University

Julian Frederick Suppe

Professor, Classics


Julian Frederick Suppe is Professor of Classics at Texas Tech. He joined the Texas Tech faculty in 2000 as Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department, after a distinguished career mostly at University of Maryland, College Park, where he was Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Professor of Philosophy, Founding Chair of the nationally top-ten ranked History and Philosophy of Science graduate program, and Affiliate Professor in the Institute for Physical Sciences and Technology. In 2002 he was made Chair of the college-sized Texas Tech Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures that he Chaired until 2010. Since then he has been Professor of Classics, stationed at the Texas Tech Center in Seville, Spain, which he helped develop.

He also has held faculty or research positions at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of California at Santa Barbara, Indian Institute of Technology/Kanpur, University of Maryland at Baltimore, University of Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins University, Indiana University, Columbia University, and Princeton University. He has been PI or a named party to well over $1 million in external research funding.

For most of his career he was a philosopher-historian of science, and he has over 100 publications including two influential books and edited proceedings. While Classics was not earlier the primary focus in his nearly 50 years as a professor, it was always important in his scholarship and teaching. His love of the pre-Socratics began as an undergraduate student of Philip Wheelwright, and of Plato and Aristotle as a graduate student studying with Julius Moravcsik. He has done post-doctoral work in Patristics under Charles Kannengieser, S.J., and on St. Thomas with Mark Jordan. One of his most memorable teaching experiences was co-teaching with David Larmour, at TTU, a graduate seminar on "The Presocratics and the Emergence of Greek Science From Thales to Ptolemy." He loves teaching his current “Latin and Greek Vocabulary,” “Roman Spain,” and “World of Greece” courses which all draw heavily from this background and dovetail with current research.

Since stepping down as Chair of the TTU Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures in 2010, he has focused his scholarship and research on the Roman presence in Spain, where he takes advantage of proximity to archaeological sites and mines the rich, mostly un-translated, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German literature on Roman Spain; the evolution and etymology of the Greek and Latin languages in antiquity and their evolution into the Romance Languages and English; and more recently has gone back to his early focus on Greek thought and science triggered by teaching CLAS 3320 (World of Greece). Particular current research interests include (1) the hydraulic gold-mining techniques used in the NW Iberian Peninsula, especially at Las Médulas, where he increasingly doubts contemporary reconstructions how this mining actually was done in Roman Spain. (2) The role of personification of numina and gods/goddesses in the evolution of abstract vocabulary in Greek and other ancient languages. He also spends a lot of time photographing Greek and Roman archaeological sites and related museums. In recent years he has taken over 40,000 photographs at archaeological sites and museums in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Greece, and Turkey which he uses in his courses, especially in the development of “Virtual Field Tours,” and shares with his Classics colleagues.

In his picture here, he is underneath the stands of the Roman amphitheater at Itálica, 10 km from Seville. Itálica was the first Roman city built from scratch outside what is now Italy. It was home to three important Roman Emperors: Trajan, Hadrian, and Theodosius I. Although never more than 8000 population, the amphitheater seats 25,000—fourth largest in the known Roman world. He regularly leads excursions to this site for student groups at the TTU Seville Center.

He funds the Julian Frederick Suppe Classics Study Abroad Prize awarded annually to a student participating in Summer Classics Study Abroad programs.

Classical Language & Literature Studies