Spring 2019 Newsletter from Classical & Near Eastern Studies
Greetings from the Department of Classical & Near Eastern Studies!
This spring sees the end of another busy school year in CNES. Seven undergraduate majors in classics and biblical studies have graduated along with the same number of our various minors, even as new majors and minors are signing up. At a time when the humanities are losing ground, our numbers seem to be holding steady.
The faculty continues to be active in research with books, articles, and scholarly presentations in all the subjects the department teaches. We have welcomed a new colleague, Mohsen Goudarzi (featured in the fall 2018 newsletter), in the study of the Qur’an, and seen the retirement of Melissa Sellew (profiled in this issue)! The department also received a gift from a distinguished alumna who would not have become a classicist if it were not for her high school Latin teacher. To commemorate his teaching, she has endowed the Arthur M. Kremer Fund for Classical Languages “to support graduate students in the acquisition and improvement of classical languages necessary for advanced study in the field.” We are very grateful for the support of such alumni!
Graduate students had a very productive year. Kristofer Coffman has been awarded the Torske Klubben Fellowship for 2019-20! Students presented papers at a number of scholarly conferences. These include Sam Berk-Hinckley (on Terence’s Eunuchus), Kristofer Coffman (on Aristotle’s History of Animals), Jeff Cross (on Paul’s Letter to the Romans), Fade Manley (on Plautus’ Pseudolus), Lucas Menzies (on a Mithraic fresco at Caesarea Maritima), Joshua Reno (on Seneca and Stoic sexual ethics, and on Pauline invective), and Anthony Thomas (on Ambrose of Milan’s hymn Apostolorum passio and on his De interpellatione Job et David).
Nicholas Wagner and Joshua Reno also co-organized a paper session on gender and ancient religion for the 2019 meeting of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South. Nick gave a paper on Cicero’s portrayal of Clodius and Joshua spoke on Lucian’s Peregrinus. Two graduate students published articles this year: Eva Cohen (“The Akedah”) and Joshua Reno (“Struggling Sages: Pauline Rhetoric and Social Control”). 2019 also sees three graduate students finishing their degrees: Stephen Harris and Lucas Menzies are receiving the MA in Religions in Antiquity and Nicholas Wagner the PhD in Classics with a dissertation entitled “Haec templa: Religion in Cicero’s Orations.”
Next year will bring new challenges and new opportunities. The faculty has been hard at work on a self-study, which has given us a chance to examine our past accomplishments while looking toward new possibilities. In 2019-20 we will be able to turn those discussions into concrete plans for the future.
An Influential Mentor and Scholar: Honoring the Career of Melissa H. Sellew
Melissa H. Sellew’s 35-year career with CNES has paved the road for a variety of new studies and careers. From identifying ancient papyrus documents through crowdsourcing to being a dedicated mentor to many, Sellew’s career has brought her around the globe and touched the hearts of all of those who have worked with her. Read “An Influential Mentor and Scholar”.
Rethinking Modern Government: Lessons from the Ancient World
Associate Professor Eva von Dassow researches developments in how we understand democracy and think about government. She is also active in University politics and activism on campus. “I found that I have a laboratory right here,” she says. “It helps me understand the real dimensions of the things I study: liberty, governance, citizenship.” Read “Rethinking Modern Government”.
Solving the Puzzle of Language
PhD candidate Jeffrey Cross discusses his formative experiences as a graduate student, from winning the Jeremias Prize to conducting research at Oxford University and the thrill of teaching. “I love the enthusiasm of the students and I try to instill my own enthusiasm for the subject in them,” he says. “We can solve the puzzle of language together.” Read “Solving the Puzzle of Language”.