Archive for November, 2015

Shakespearean Roman Comedy in New York

November 17th, 2015 by tjoseph

By Corey Scannell ‘18

On Saturday, August 14, Professor Ellen Perry’s Roman Comedy class, along with a few erudite guests from the Department, made its way to New York City to see a performance of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. Throughout the semester, the Roman Comedy class has been reading Plautus’ Menaechmi, from which Shakespeare drew inspiration for his comedy. In both the Menaechmi and the Comedy of Errors, the narrative focuses on twins who were separated at birth and reunited as adults, amid much laughter and confusion. Although we would have loved to see a live performance of the Menaechmi, the Comedy of Errors proved to be the next best thing – plus, it’s always rewarding to see the Classical world’s influences in today’s culture.

Lombardi's

Nicholas Guarracino ’18, Corey Scannell ’18, Alex Simrell ’16, Allyn Waller ’18, Steven Merola ’16, Michael Kelley ’18, and Claude Hanley ’16 flash their Mona Lisa smiles after post-play pizza at Lombardi’s.

After a four-hour van ride to Lafayette Street in Greenwich Village, the RomCom class and co. packed into The Public Theater’s small performance hall at around two o’clock. From the start of the play, it was clear we weren’t in for a traditional interpretation of Shakespeare: within five minutes we saw border patrol police, college sports caps, and even a Donald Trump mask. The Public Mobile Theater Unit prides itself on making Shakespeare accessible to anyone. Because of this, their interpretation shirks much of Shakespeare’s highbrow humor, so as to accommodate easy comprehension and laughs galore.

The ninety-minute performance wasn’t all slapstick, though. A cast of only seven actors played sixteen roles, creatively and skillfully making the most of limited stage props, including an ingenious use of hats to distinguish characters. Sound effects were performed live, sexual innuendos were extravagantly stressed, and audience members played a surprisingly large role in a play that felt perhaps a bit more Roman that Shakespearean, after all.

Following the play, everyone had a few hours to split up and explore New York City. Some visited friends, others family, and a large team of us went to find dinner. Of course, we stumbled into a bookstore and decimated its Classics section on the way (first things first), but soon found America’s oldest pizzeria, Lombardi’s in Little Italy. The pizza was great, company better, and the day a success.

Fittingly, the marks of old and new pervaded our entire trip: in an effort to witness the vestiges of antiquity, we went to watch a sixteenth-century play that happened to incorporate more markings of modernity than anything else. Plautus’ Epidamnian merchant at one moment can be Shakespeare’s Duke of Ephesus at another, before becoming a satirical Donald Trump near the U.S.-Mexico border today. Our trip served as a reminder of just how relevant our subject is: though Classical influences change and adapt, they never really disappear.

Four students journey to Bucknell to present Homeric research

November 13th, 2015 by tjoseph

By Charlie Schufreider ’17 and Alex Simrell ’16

Friday afternoons on Fenwick 4 tend to be dominated by the Holy Cross Manuscripts, Inscriptions, and Documents (MID) Club. Yet last Friday, August 6, the club’s presence was reduced just a bit, as four of its members traveled to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, home of Bucknell University. There Claude Hanley ‘18, Stephanie Neville ‘17, Charlie Schufreider ‘17, and Alex Simrell ’16 attended the Bucknell Undergraduate Digital Scholarship Conference. Fearing to miss our 2 p.m. Sophocles seminar, the team didn’t depart until 3:30 on Friday afternoon. This left us battling Hartford rush hour traffic, rubberneckers all along I-84, and indigestion from Oreo overindulgence.

Conference at Bucknell

Stephanie Neville ‘17, Claude Hanley ‘18, Charlie Schufreider ‘17, and Alex Simrell ’16 prepare to present at Bucknell.

After a late night arrival at the Country Inn and Suites, the team arose with the sun in order to run over the final details of our presentation before the conference breakfast, for which we were first in line. Our talk was part of the panel titled, “Student Success through Digital Scholarship Initiatives.” Our talk, which followed two presentations by administrators about their respective undergraduate research programs, offered an example of the type of work that can be accomplished when undergraduates are given ample opportunity. For it focused not only on the structure of the MID Club, but it also highlighted our recent summer research on the Venetus A manuscript of Homer’s Iliad.

For the abstract to our presentation, click here: http://dsconf.blogs.bucknell.edu/2015/09/14/digital-editions-of-primary-documents-a-collaborative-modern-approach-to-ancient-texts/

We were pleased by the overwhelmingly positive response to our presentation. Audience members expressed genuine interest in our club, and many even asked how to create such a dedicated research club on their own campuses. What really amazed us was the incredible response all over the Twitter-verse (the hashtag of the conference was #BUDSC15; our Twitter handle is @HCMID). It certainly made for fun reading as we, with lightened hearts, re-embarked to make our seven-hour trek back to Worcester. So now, the Friday after our adventure, we return to Fenwick 4 to resume our studies of manuscripts, inscriptions, and documents, carrying on the tradition we represented the Friday before.

Fenwick Scholar MacNeill hosts student / faculty reading group

November 4th, 2015 by tjoseph

Students and faculty from around the College gather to read the Gospel of John

Classics and Catholic Studies major Joe MacNeill is this year’s Fenwick Scholar, an opportunity awarded to one or two seniors each year to work on a yearlong research project. Joe’s Fenwick thesis, titled “God As Logos: A Philological, Philosophical, and Theological Investigation,” examines the relationship between language and liturgy, specifically through the lens of John’s Gospel, in which the Greek word logos is used to refer to God.

This fall Joe is also auditing Prof. Nancy Andrews’ advanced Greek seminar on the playwright Sophocles. And, after a few encouraging conversations with Prof. Andrews, Joe assembled a group of students and faculty to read the Gospel of John with him on Friday afternoons. “Joe occupied the driver’s seat in getting the group started,” Prof. Andrews said. “I had hoped that he would, since he is steeped in the material.”

MacNeill

Prof. Andrews, Joe MacNeill ’16, and Steven Merola ’16 at the reading group’s first meeting.

Of the group’s objectives, Joe said, “The reading group has two general goals. First, to facilitate discussion about the text with which I will be working for the duration of the year — the Gospel of John — a text that is not often read in its original Greek.  Second, to bring together students and faculty from a variety of disciplines and with varying degrees of familiarity with Greek.”

In the handful of meetings this fall, the group of participants has included fellow senior Classics majors Meagan Freeze and Steven Merola, as well as Prof. Andrews (Classics), Fr. John Gavin (Religious Studies), Prof. John Little (Mathematics), and Prof. John Manoussakis (Philosophy). The group is open to more participants.

“We have all benefited from the interchanges between Joe and Steven Merola, who is writing a thesis on the early Christian theologian Origen,” Prof. Andrews said. “My role has been the interested interlocutor, with very basic questions. It is a stimulating and refreshing change of pace for me!”

The reading group is living up to and even exceeding Joe’s expectations. “After two meetings, we already achieved our goals by delving into the subtleties of the text with members from such diverse departments,” Joe said. “Discussion topics range from investigating the philosophical concepts underpinning challenging words as logos and phos, to understanding John’s use of verb tenses and moods.  We have already found that the text is deceivingly difficult, with a simple grammar and vocabulary disguising a rich philosophical and theological tradition.”