A Day in the Life of a Classicist is a monthly column on the SCS blog written by Prof. Ayelet Haimson Lushkov celebrating the working lives of classicists. If you’d like to share your day, let us know here.
Rebecca Futo Kennedy is Associate Professor of Classics and Administrative Director, Denison Museum
Last Thursday, I began class with a caveat, “The class today will be really tough to deliver...” And it was. It was the first time I had taught after the fire and destruction of Brazil’s National Museum, and it was a particularly hard and ironic moment.
I’m teaching a topic on Pompeii, so when classes started, a month ago, I mentioned to my students that there were some frescoes and items from Pompeii at the National Museum, located in a park in central Rio de Janeiro which used to be the imperial family’s property in the nineteenth century. The collection was part of the dowry from empress Teresa Cristina of Bourbon, daughter of the king of the Two Sicilies, a gift that was particularly in tune with the interest that emperor Dom Pedro II had in history and sciences.
With the thermometer outside registering a frigid 29 degrees Fahrenheit at 7am on Thursday, April 19, 2018, a cohort of undergraduate Classics students at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) launched their Homerathon: a marathon reading of Stanley Lombardo’s translation of Homer’s Iliad, which ran non-stop until 3am the next morning. The event taught students and listeners a lot about the difficulties and benefits of the ancient tradition of oral poetry—but brought Classics back out into the public sphere and made an argument for its relevance today.
In our fourth post from the SCS’ Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance (CAMP), high school Latin teacher Patrick Hogan explores how to bring Vergil to life through dramatic performance.
Teachers of Greek and Latin, no matter how experienced, are always looking for new ways to bring ancient language to life for their students, whether through basic oral conversation, reading passages of prose or poetry aloud, or translation from modern English into Latin or Greek. In my opinion, teachers should make more frequent use of a fourth option, i.e., public, staged readings of poetry. I have found success in performances of Vergil’s Eclogues at the private high school where I teach.
Historical fiction based in the ancient world has long been a fruitful way to encourage the interest of non-specialists in the ancient world. These novels can also be used profitably to improve classroom pedagogy. I regularly assign a work of historical fiction in my online Intro to Ancient Rome course. This summer, I opted for Steven Saylor’s most recent addition to his Gordianus series, The Throne of Caesar. My students in the summer are nearly all STEM majors who are looking to complete a core requirement, often while simultaneously working full-time. I need to select novels that are readable, follow Roman history accurately, and add dimension to the world and characters that they are studying. Ideally, the novel will also encourage the students to think about some aspect of Roman history from a new perspective.
In spring 2018, students enrolled in the upper-level seminar “Antiquity Through a Lens” at Miami University engaged in critical study of the ways the classical world and, more specifically, ancient war narratives have been used in modern film and television to reflect on contemporary society and its conflicts. Alongside study of ancient primary sources, students thus explored a range of concepts such as gender, class, race, religion, and even the meaning of victory itself in Troy (2004), 300 (2007), 300: Rise of an Empire (2014), Spartacus (1960), Masada (1981), and Dragon Blade (2015). It was the latter film, however, that provoked the most intriguing reactions from students in the course, since it forced them to view classical history for the first time through a distinctly non-Western lens.
Hackathons, events where software developers gather together to create in community a usable piece of computer programming in a short frame of time, are common occurrences in tech circles. One hosted this past February by the College of the Holy Cross, however, was the first time I’d seen this type of group work applied to translating ancient manuscripts.
A Day in the Life of A Classicist is a monthly column on the SCS blog, celebrating the working lives of classicists. In this month’s edition, we speak with Hamish Cameron, who is a digital humanist, game designer, and lecturer in Classical and Medieval Studies at Bates College.
I’m an ancient historian who specializes in the Roman Near East, ancient geography, and borderland theory. I am beginning to branch into the reception of the classical world in contemporary pop-culture, especially games and movies.
Our second post from the SCS’ Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance (CAMP) explores how to bring a translation to life on the stage through interdisciplinary work.