I was born on 27 August 1969 in Johannesburg South Africa and emigrated to the United States in 1975 with my parents Joseph Isidore and Gail Ann and two younger brothers Ronan and Adam. 

I grew up in Brookline Massachusetts, a town that borders Boston. I now live in Center City Philadelphia with my wife Janet Marie Lorenz.

The Jewish surname “Wolfsdorf” can be traced as far back as the mid eighteenth century, to a Boruch Wolfsdorf, in Warsaw, which was then a part of the Kingdom of Prussia. Polish Wilczkowo, German Wolfsdorf, a village of Lidzbark County in northern Poland, is perhaps the source of the name.

My middle name “Conan” (pronounced like Arthur … Doyle, not the Barbarian!) is a nod to my maternal Lithuanian grandmother Constance Brittan, originally Brytaniszski.


I graduated from the Michael Driscoll Elementary School in 1983 and from Brookline High School in 1987. During high school I aspired to become an artist and my primary interests were in drawing, painting, and ceramics. I spent 1987-8 at the Maryland Institute College of Art. In 1989 I transferred to Boston University and began to focus on academics, mainly ancient and modern foreign languages. In 1992, I graduated from the University Professors Program at Boston University with a BA in classical and modern foreign languages and literatures. That summer, before graduate school, I continued my study of Latin in Father Reginald Foster’s aestivas latinitatis program in Rome. In the fall of 1992 I began a doctorate in classics at the University of Chicago. I spent the 1995-6 year as a visiting scholar at the University of Heidelberg in Glenn Most’s Programm fürs Nachleben der Antike. In 1997 I completed my dissertation “Aporia in Plato’s CharmidesLaches, and Lysis” in classics at Chicago under the direction of Martha Nussbaum, Richard Kraut, and Glenn Most. 


I began my professional career in 1998 as a tenure-track assistant professor of philosophy at Fairfield University in Connecticut. In 2002, for personal reasons, I moved to a non-tenure-track position in the Writing Program at Boston University. In 2004 I began a tenure-track assistant professorship in philosophy at Temple University. I was promoted to associate professor in 2008 and to full professor in 2015.