Michael Furman, Ph.D.

Dr. Michael Furman, Honors Core Faculty

Michael Furman earned his Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of St Andrews. Originally from Washington state, he arrived at FSU in 2018 where he taught in the Department of Classics for four years. A Greek Historian by training, his research focuses on the history of Boeotia and its most famous city, Thebes, in the fourth century B.C. Dr. Furman has been fortunate enough to live the historian’s dream and excavate the city he studies, serving as a Supervisor on the Thebes Excavation from 2011-2016. Teaching in the Honors Program has allowed him to take the study of the ancient world in exciting, modern directions by designing courses that demonstrate the relevance of the ancient world to today whether it be through the pseudoarchaeology we see on TV, the influence of Greece and Rome on the Founding Fathers, or the imagined landscapes of Assassin’s Creed.

In addition to his teaching, Dr. Furman is the Associate Director for Curriculum and Faculty Development. In this role, he serves as the administrator for all things curriculum in the Honors Program. This includes creating program-wide teaching policies, recruiting and mentoring faculty to teach Honors courses, and expanding learning modalities for students with a current emphasis on building online and international programs.

When he is not working, Dr. Furman enjoys playing golf and is an admitted Star Wars nerd, references to which frequently appear in his teaching.

Historic Landscapes, Imagined Worlds: Ancient History Through Gaming - IDH3421
This course explores how the history of the ancient world is represented in both table-top (board) and video games. Starting with an exploration of board games in the ancient world, we then move to study modern games with ancient subjects. The course will follow a pattern of learning the history behind a selected game, playing the game, and then engaging in discussion on the accuracy of the game and how and why it adapts ancient history. After learning the mechanics and theories of game design, the culmination of this course allows students to implement their newfound knowledge as they design and construct a tabletop game with a historical theme to be debuted during an Honors playtesting event.

Appropriating the Past: The Use and Abuse of the Ancient World in Modern Society - IDH3114
This course examines evidence from the ancient world which challenges traditional views and presents diverse perspectives of Greek and Roman history, society, and culture. In addition to evidence from the ancient world, students engage with the history of the field of Classics as well as the contemporary political and social movements which attempt to appropriate the ancient world in knowingly distorted and increasingly extreme ways. The movements and groups studied in this course include the Framers, debates over slavery in the Antebellum United States, nationalism, colonialism, Nazism, the incel movement, and more.

Alienating History: Ancient Aliens, Pseudoarchaeology, and Historical Inquiry - IDH3420
In the last decade, channels such as History and Discovery have replaced much of their programming with shows like ‘Ancient Aliens’ that promote pseudoscience and speculation as a challenge to what they term ‘mainstream’ historical and archaeological methodology. This course explores this phenomenon by utilizing the historical method and the principles of archaeology to interrogate the claims put forward on these programs and social media outlets. Students will gain an understanding of why these programs have become so popular, how they are affecting public understanding of the past, and how the fields of archaeology and history can adapt to digital media trends to disseminate scholarly understanding.

IDH3126: Public Scholarship for Honors
Indiana Jones. Bruce Banner. Evie Carnahan. Robert Langdon. Jane Foster. Modern media is full of representations of academic and scientific expertise, but are these depictions damaging the public perception of real-life experts? In what way does the depiction of expertise in media shape real-world understandings? How can real experts better convey that expertise to a public audience? In this online course, students learn how to take expert knowledge of any topic and translate it into public scholarship. After defining what it means to be an expert in the modern world, they examine media portrayals of experts and explain how and why these depictions deviate from reality. The course concludes with students using the knowledge they have acquired to produce digital public scholarship.

IDH3450: Roman Britain
Despite existing at the far northwest edges of the known world, the British Isles proved to be a vital part of the Roman Empire from their conquest in the first century AD to the withdrawal of Roman forces in the early fifth century. In that time, the influence of the Romans dramatically reshaped the land of what they called Britannia both physically and culturally by creating structures and customs that can still be seen today. In this four-week study abroad course, students will investigate the history and legacy of the Roman presence in Britain through a combination of classroom instruction at our center in Londinium and experiential learning at Roman sites including Bath and Hadrian’s Wall.