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ASU New College professor wins award for debut book

June 19, 2018

Matt Simonton, assistant professor for Greek history at Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, has won the Runciman Award for his first book, “Classical Greek Oligarchy: A Political History.”

Presented by the Anglo-Hellenic League, the Runciman Award annually recognizes works, characterized by good and accessible writing, that promote wider knowledge and understanding of ancient Greece’s contribution to civilization.

Simonton’s book was selected alongside Colm Tóibín’s “House of Names.”

John Kittmer, chair of the league’s council, congratulated the winners and the authors of the other five books on the short list.

“I warmly congratulate Matthew Simonton and Colm Tóibín for being worthy recipients of the Runciman Award 2018," Kittmer said. "This year’s competition was remarkable, with excellent books submitted and short-listed. The strong field reflects the high quality of current writing in English about Hellenism in its many guises.”

John Penney, chairman of the award judges, was similarly impressed.

“Matthew Simonton’s ‘Classical Greek Oligarchy’ tackles an unusual subject — a refreshing change from all those studies of Athenian democracy — and tackles it with great flair, his knowledge of political theory always apparent but never overplayed," Penney said. "This is a compelling account of an underexplored topic, and a most enjoyable read.”