Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass. — Amherst College has appointed Danielle Allen, dean of the division of humanities, professor of classics and political science and a member of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, to a term on its Board of Trustees effective March 4. Allen’s term will end March 30, 2009.
A scholar of Greek literature of the classical period, Allen also has brought her study of the social, cultural and political history of Athens into her consideration of modern political philosophy. Her most recent book, Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown vs. the Board of Education (2004), used the 1957 events in Little Rock, Ark., as a starting point for an analysis of democratic politics and the place of loss, sacrifice and disappointment in democratic life. She argued for an ideal of citizenship that inculcated habits for interacting with strangers that might convert distrust into trust. The recipient of a 2001 MacArthur fellowship or “genius award,” Allen was cited for her ability to combine “the classicist’s careful attention to texts and language with the political theorist’s sophisticated and informed engagement.”
Allen graduated from Princeton University summa cum laude with an A.B. degree in classics and a minor in political theory. She went on to King’s College at Cambridge University, where she received the M.Phil. (first class degree) in 1994 and Ph.D. in classics in 1996. She later received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in government (political theory) from Harvard University. A member of the University of Chicago faculty since 1997, Allen previously taught at Tufts University, Suffolk University and Cambridge University.
Allen is the author of The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (2000), and is now at work on Literature in Crisis, which examines Athenian literature from the years around the oligarchic coups of 411 and 404/3 and under the threat of Macedon.
A member of the editorial boards of Critical Inquiry and Classical Philology, Allen also serves on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Humanities Council. She is a member of the American Philological Association, the American Political Science Association and the Chicago Political Theory Group. Reflecting her deep interest in public education and its connection to institutions of higher education, Allen also serves on the Board of the University of Chicago charter schools.
A resident of Chicago, Ill., Allen is married to Robert von Hallberg and has two stepsons, aged 17 and 14.