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Professor Christopher Kelly


Christopher Kelly is a classicist and historian with a wide range of interests in the ancient world: these include government and power, its use and abuse, the society, religion and culture of the Roman Empire from Augustus to Justinian, the rise of Christianity, and Edward Gibbon and the Grand Tour. His books include Ruling the Later Roman Empire (Harvard, 2004), The Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2006), The End of Empire: Attila the Hun and the Fall of Rome (Norton, New York, 2009) and four edited volumes: Unclassical Traditions I: Alternatives to the Classical Past in late Antiquity; Unclassical Traditions II: Perspectives from East and West in late Antiquity; Theodosius II: Rethinking the Roman Empire in late Antiquity; and Keith Hopkins: Sociological Studies in Roman History (Cambridge, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2017). He was a Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellow from 2006 to 2008; an editor of the Cambridge Classical Journal from 2000 to 2006; editor of the Journal of Roman Studies from 2018 to 2020; and is a past President of the Cambridge Philological Society and a former chair of the Faculty of Classics. Current projects include a new book, provisionally entitled: Confronting the Past: Christianity and the Making of Late Antiquity.

He was an undergraduate at the University of Sydney (where he read history and law), a graduate at Trinity College, Cambridge and Drapers’ Research Fellow at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He is a past President of the Cambridge Union Society. He has been a Fellow of Corpus since 1994 (as Senior Tutor 2000–2004; as President 2016–2017) and continues as Keeper of the College Pictures and Fine Furniture. During the first five years of his Mastership, he was a member of both the University Council and the General Board as well as the Strategic Working Group on Access and Participation (2019–2021), the Colleges’ Standing Committee (2019–2022) and the Mental Health Project Board (2020–2021).

His wife, Shawn Donnelley, is a Guild Fellow in Corpus. She is President of Strategic Giving, a firm providing consultation on philanthropy. She sits on the boards of Cambridge in America, the Art Institute of Chicago, Northwestern Memorial Foundation, American Associates of the National Theatre and is a past chairman and life trustee of the Goodman Theatre. She previously served ten years on the boards of United States Artists, Loyola University New Orleans and the Chicago Community Trust. She was an undergraduate at Loyola University New Orleans and has an MA from Emerson College.