Peter Leigh

I was a student from Fall 2018 - Fall 2020 in the Classical Studies program, and received the M.A. in February 2021. I am now an ALT (Assistant English Language Teacher) within the Japanese Government's JET Programme, placed in a wonderful rural area within Yamagata Prefecture.

Classics remains a wonderful hobby for me, and I am glad to have been able to have taken it through to a postgraduate level. My specific classical interests vary widely: while I originally came to Columbia particularly interested in historical geography in Mesopotamia, specifically in the early period of the Seleucids, I have ranged around since then - though I continue to find myself close to the dividing line between Classics and Assyriology. In general, my interest is piqued by areas in which there is hard-core textual (generally documentary) work to be done, and areas that have in general received less in the way of scholarly torchlight. Having acquired a certain amount of Akkadian over a couple of years in classes at NYU and ISAW, and also been lucky enough to be a part of the CAM study trip to Egypt in 2019, I in fact ended up writing as my MA thesis (supervisor: John Ma) a comparative triptych of oracular/divination-sanctioned divine nomination in the Egyptian New Kingdom, Neo-Assyrian, and Late Achaemenid periods, as viewed through Weber's tripartite framework of authority.

I also served twice as the Lead Teaching Assistant for Columbia's Greek History Survey (a.k.a. HIST 1010) in Fall '19 and '20. I especially enjoyed switching between the different challenges of carrying out graduate research in huge depth, and of presenting the bigger picture (but with the details that one simply must have to make it come alive) for undergraduates new to the field, while simultaneously training them in the techniques allowing them to continue at a higher level in the future - and was described in a student's evaluation as 'genuinely passionate about teaching'.

Before joining the Classical Studies program at Columbia, I read Literae Humaniores (Classics) at New College, Oxford, where I studied under Jane Lightfoot, Andy Meadows, Paolo Fait, and Georgy Kantor. For my BA degree there I took a variety of literature, history, and philosophy papers, ultimately focusing on Graeco-Roman history. The breadth of knowledge, and of disciplines, that I acquired in Lit. Hum. is something I hugely value, and see as a central tenet of Classics - and I was glad to be able at Columbia to continue the occasional delve into literature/philology and philosophy, in spite of specialising in Greek History, thanks to the breadth of the Classical Studies program.

In my limited free time, I am a keen singer (having been a tenor in the Choir of New College Oxford for four years, and – much earlier – a chorister at the Queen’s Chapel), and also love hiking - when I'm not found in an armchair with my nose in a new book, or playing around with new technology. I enjoy volunteering in schools, and served as an NYC Read Ahead reading buddy for a 2nd grader in 2019-20. Finally, fascinated by languages modern as well as ancient, I've long been interested in, and am currently learning (for obvious reasons) Japanese.