0 Benjamin Wheaton

Benjamin Wheaton

Benjamin Wheaton

Visiting Assistant Professor of History

I have always been fascinated by the unfathomably large world of the human past. There is always something unexpected around the corner, from the quarrels over who was more faithful to Nestorian Christianity that occurred among the Central Asian tribes serving Genghis Khan, to the unnerving possibility that the Amazon rainforest is in part an artificial construct of the pre-Columbian indigenous tribes in the area. The less I know about a particular area, the more keen I am to read about it. This led me to specialize in Late Antiquity, the period roughly between 400 and 800 AD. I didn’t know anything about it going into my graduate degree, so I decided to do a Ph.D. in it to rectify my ignorance. Suffice it to say this strategy worked, and I have come to love this period and the people in it.

At the heart of my research and teaching lies the study of ancient and medieval texts. These documents are a precious window into a world that seems bewilderingly alien the more I study it. Yet I always experience a thrill when I encounter something profoundly familiar amidst the strangeness: a joke, an expression of tenderness towards a friend, an outburst of grief. Such things are reminders that although they wrote in the midst of a very different culture and with a very different mindset, I share a common humanity with them, and can learn from them. This insight is one that drives my enthusiasm for teaching. I believe that by learning to appreciate literature written by people very different from ourselves, living in a very different time period, yet sharing so much with us, we can develop a mature empathy that will serve us well in our everyday lives.

I have always felt that a small liberal arts university in upstate New York would be an ideal place to teach because of the natural beauty of the area and the long history of so many of these institutions. Houghton fulfills this ideal for me and more, since as a Christian institution it also allows me to directly serve the Church, something I have always wanted to do as a historian. I also love that Houghton is firmly rooted in a lively orthodox faith, and in a tradition like the Wesleyan denomination that emphasizes the pursuit of holiness. Helping students and the rest of the Houghton community to pursue a holy life, especially in being committed to the truth about history and our role in it, is both an honor and a pleasure.


  • Ph.D. in Medieval Studies | University of Toronto
  • M.A. in Medieval Studies | University of Toronto
  • B.Hum. in Humanities, Minor in History | Carleton University

Classes Taught

  • HUM 101: Enduring Questions, Ancient and Medieval Worlds
  • HUM 102: Enduring Questions, Early Modern World
  • HIST 250: World History, 1500-Present
  • HIST 395: Roman History
  • HIST 325: Modern Europe, 1789-1900

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