North American Scholar

D'ARMS, John Haughton

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1934-11-27
  • Born City: Poughkeepsie
  • Born State/Country: NY
  • Parents: Edward Francis, humanities director for the Rockefeller Foundation and program officer for the Ford Foundation, and H. Cristina Coney D’A.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 2002-01-22
  • Death City: Bronx
  • Death State/Country: NY
  • Married: Maria Teresa Waugh, 3 June 1961.
  • Education:

    A.B. Princeton, 1956; Woodrow Wilson hon. Fell. 1956; Keasbey fell., Oxford, 1956-59; B.A., 1956; Howard & Moors fell., Harvard, 1959-60; Ph.D., 1965; Fulbright Scholar, Univ. Rome, 1961-62.

  • Professional Experience:

    Asst. prof. Classical Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1965-67; assoc. prof. 1968-71; Prof. 1986-97; Chair of dept., 1972-75, 1976-77; 1980-85; Dean, Rackham School Grad. Studies, 1985-95; Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, 1990-95; Adjunct prof. Classics & History, Columbia, 1997-2002; asst. prof. Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies, Rome (1967-68); prof.-in-charge, summer school, 1971-73; G.F. Else Professor of Class. Stud. 1983-97; chmn., managing comm., 1972-75; trustee, Princeton, 1970-74; fell., Am. Council Learned Societies, 1971-72; mem. Bd. Dirs., 1973-77, 1985-93; pres., 1997-2002; prof. classics in residence, American Academy Rome, 1971-72; trustee, 1973-76, 1981-93; Centennial Medal, 1995; assoc., Columbia Univ. Sem. Class. Civilization 1973-2002; Guggenheim fell., 1975-76; memb. Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 1975-76; board of dirs., 2001-02; dir. APA, 1977-80; Regional chair, Mellon grad. Fellowship in Humanities, 1982-82, 1984-89; national comm., 1990-95; Graduate Records Exam Board, 1992-96; Nat. Counc. Humanities, 1994-97; pres. Association of Graduate Schools, 1990; D.Litt., U. Montreal, 1998; Albright Coll., 1999.

  • Dissertation:

    "Republican Roman Villas in Coastal Campania" (Harvard, 1965).

  • Notes:

    John D'Arms's academic career as a noted Roman historian began with the completion of a BA with Phi Beta Kappa at Princeton in 1956. After winning a Keasbey scholarship from Princeton, he completed his second BA at New College Oxford in 1959, where he received a traditional training in Classics from such notables as C. E. (“Tom Brown”) Stevens. It was in Stevens' room that he first met his future wife, Teresa Waugh. Married in 1961, he became the father of two children and eventually the grandfather of two as well. John radically reworked his Harvard dissertation, completed under the supervision of the noted scholar Herbert Bloch in 1965, to publish the still highly important book, Romans on the Bay of Naples. This book broke new ground by combining the fruits of meticulous epigraphical studies with sophisticated social history, a topic on which he was almost entirely self-taught, and a fascination with the material culture of Roman Italy. In short, although I do not know whether he would have described himself this way, John was and continued to be interdisciplinary in his approaches to historical problems in a fashion far ahead of his time. John's interest in the local elites of Roman Italy and his exploration of Roman business and commerce through the people engaged in it, their practices, and their social milieu resulted in a long series of articles, his second book entitled Commerce and Social Standing in Ancient Rome, and an important co-edited volume, Roman Seaborne Commerce. In Commerce and Social Standing John attacked some of the most difficult problems in Roman economic history; his chapter on the freedman Trimalchio, whose famous banquet dominates Petronius' novel The Satyricon, remains a truly outstanding and precise reading of the episode. In latter years, John was engaged in the study of Roman dining and drinking practices. Even while working at ACLS he continued to publish articles on the topic and taught two popular seminars at Columbia University entitled "Foodways in Ancient Rome: Literature and Society." The seminar approached the topic from an anthropological perspective, but engaged students whose primary interests were historical, archaeological, art historical, and literary. His study-in-progress investigated the relation between food-related occasions and social ritual, food as a social marker in a hierarchical society, the archaeology of dining rooms and the painting on their walls, literary representations of symposia, and issues relating to gender, class, and social status. It questioned traditional views concerning the relation between public and private worlds in Rome by observing the ways in which dining in households was politicized. Students who took his last seminar commented on his ability to engage students in all areas and to give even first-year students the confidence to present innovative work before advanced students. As a scholar noted for combining meticulous scholarship with a passion for archaeology and an exceptional breadth and open-mindedness towards problems in social history, John had few equals among Roman historians of his generation. But he was also an exemplary intellectual in a much broader sense. He was a member of both the Classical Studies and History Departments at the University of Michigan, and in 1995 became the G. F. Else Professor of Humanities. According to colleagues at the University of Michigan, he turned the Horace Rackham School of Graduate Studies into the center of a diverse intellectual and artistic community. As Dean of the Graduate School from 1985-1995 and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs from 1990-95 he created a Humanities Center in its elegant quarters, and staged art exhibits, poetry readings, talks, and other events. He generated fellowships for minorities and encouraged Humanities faculty to seek funding by promising to top off their salary when they won awards as well as offering a Faculty Recognition Award that included extra funds for research. During this period he began as well to write important articles on the Humanities as a whole. John took his ability to get Humanities a larger share of the pie to ACLS, where one of his most notable achievements was raising funds to make the ACLS fellowship a coveted opportunity to engage in major new research rather than a significant honor that many could barely afford to take. Once again, he showed his ability to innovate in the creation of the new Frederick Burkhardt fellowships designed to give the recently-tenured but suddenly over-burdened young scholar the opportunity to engage in an ambitious, innovative project at interdisciplinary Humanities centers. But the remarkable increase of the ACLS endowment has permitted as well initiatives to support junior and senior faculty such as the new Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowships and the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships for junior faculty. Equally important was his support of new initiatives in digital publication that met the highest standards of research, the History E-Book Project. John's professional contribution to the Humanities as a whole was notable. I can only touch on a few of his many activities here. He served two terms on the ACLS board before he became its President in September 1997. He had been for many years a member of three of its constituent societies, the American Philological Association, the American Historical Association, and the Archaeological Institute of America. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, of the National Humanities Center, of the Research Libraries Group, Inc., of the Graduate Record Examinations Board, and of the National Humanities Council, to which he was appointed by President Clinton in 1994. He also served as a Trustee of the Modern Language Association and of Princeton University and as Director of the American Academy in Rome (1977-1980), where he also became A. W. Mellon Professor-in-charge of the Academy's Classical School. In addition, he served as Vice-President, then President of the Association of Graduate Schools, Association of American Universities.

  • Sources:

    DAS 8,3: 117; APA Newsletter (August 2002) 5-6; Leonard Barkan, CW 95,4 (Summer 2002) 444-5.    

  • Author: Anonymous