Professor Anderson serves currently as the department’s Chair of Graduate Studies and teaches undergraduate and graduate classes on ancient Greece and the general theory/practice of history. He is a graduate of the universities of Newcastle and London in his native Britain, and holds MA, MPhil, and PhD degrees in Classics from Yale University.
Professor Anderson's primary research areas are ancient Greece, historical thought, and critical theory. He is particularly interested in the broad question of how one can write true or real histories of non-modern lifeworlds, worlds which lived by standards of truth and realness very different from our own. His first book, The Athenian Experiment (University of Michigan Press, 2003), reconsidered the proverbial “birth of democracy” in Athens, exposing and exploring the radical differences between ancient and modern understandings of this landmark transformation. In similar vein, other publications have questioned the conventional use of modern categories like “state” and “tyranny” to characterize ancient Greek phenomena. Professor Anderson's second book, The Realness of Things Past (Oxford University Press, 2018), offers a broader critique of the philosophical foundations of the discipline of history, whose reigning protocols require us to impose peculiarly modern, western metaphysical conditions upon all non-modern lifeworlds, thereby fundamentally altering what was and could be really there at the time. To produce more ethical, more meaningful, more philosophically robust accounts of the past, it argues, we need to take an “ontological turn” in our practice, to analyze each non-modern world on its own ontological terms.
Professor Anderson was the the primary author and co-director of the (2013-2015) “State Formations” program at OSU's Center for Historical Research. Along with John Brooke (History, Ohio State) and Julia Strauss (SOAS), he has since co-edited the cross-disciplinary volume State Formations: Global Histories and Cultures of Statehood (Cambridge University Press, 2018), which assembles over twenty chapters on the “state” in history and theory that were written by contributors to the CHR program. With his colleague in Chinese history, Professor Ying Zhang, he also founded and runs OSU's Premodernist Group, which brings together specialists on premodern and non-western worlds from across campus to consider theoretical issues of common concern. Professor Anderson has delivered over fifty professional papers in venues across North America and Europe and won eight awards for distinguished teaching.