Summer 2020 Newsletter
Greetings from the Classical & Near Eastern Studies,
The big news in CNES is the same as the big news for everyone else: the unexpected changes brought about by COVID-19. A number of anticipated conferences that faculty and students expected to attend were suddenly canceled—or moved online, a format most of us had little experience with for that kind of event—and talks and meetings across campus were suddenly called off. This includes our anticipated conference on Euripides' The Bacchae in the age of Trump, an event that was to bring speakers from across the country and local schools as well. It was to tie in with the Guthrie's production of the play, but that too had to be cut short.
Like everyone else on campus, we suddenly had to revamp our courses for remote teaching and learning, while conducting department and college business through video conferencing—something most of us had only used occasionally was now part of daily life. I have to say faculty and students alike managed this transition with considerable grace, making quick changes and adopting new methods and then refining those methods through trial and error. Instructors not only rethought their courses, but did their best to check in with students and to remember the serious toll the situation has taken on all of us, as students struggled with housing, internet access, and a variety of other things.
Working quickly, and not entirely knowing what to expect, we managed to hold our end of the year event at which we recognized student achievements from awards and publications to graduation. I think everyone missed the face-to-face version, but it was still nice to see and hear from so many people in the CNES community at the end of the strangest semester any of us have had.
With warm regards,
Kristofer Coffman is a graduate fellow studying religions in antiquity. He hopes to increase cross-cultural understanding of language and culture as well as pay homage to his family’s heritage.
Can ancient Greek literature teach modern society more about how to solve problems? S. Douglas Olson is attempting to prove it can. He studies ancient literature, translating it to make it accessible to the modern reader.
Renana Schneller is an instructor of the only modern language taught in CNES: Hebrew. After overhearing a colleague talk about teaching an online course, she felt compelled to create her own. Now, the course is offered across all Big Ten Universities, and Schneller has hopes of expanding her online Hebrew curriculum.
Although Euripides’ Bacchae is ancient, its lessons on political power, religion, sexuality, and fear are increasingly pertinent in modern society. Aaron Poochigian uses this Greek text to view modern societal issues through an ancient