Document Type

Conference Presentation


Religious Studies

Conference Title

Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale


The International Association for Assyriology


University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Conference Dates

July 11-15, 2016

Date of Presentation



There is an ideal in American Assyriology that active scholars will work at a research university, where they will teach Akkadian and/or Sumerian and lead philological seminars on selected texts from their sub-specialty. Although such an Assyriologist may teach an undergraduate course or two each year, their most important pedagogical efforts will be directed at graduate students. The reality of the academic job market makes this career path available to relatively few scholars. Those who remain in academia often find employment teaching undergraduates in a department of history, religious studies, art history, or comparative literature. The present paper shares my experiences of doing precisely this for the last ten years in a religious studies department at a relatively small liberal arts college. In the first part of my paper, I discuss various ways I have incorporated Assyriological materials into a majority of my undergraduate classes. In the second, I identify the professional challenges and the benefits of Assyriologists working in an academic unit not focused on Near Eastern Studies. And in the last, I offer some perspectives on how PhD students in Assyriology can shape their education (and dissertation research) so as to become an attractive candidate for jobs outside of a NELC department. In each part I consider the ramifications of the topic under discussion in terms of both the individual scholar and the field as a whole.