Archive for February, 2016

Life after Fenwick 4: alums reflect on their Classical education

February 26th, 2016 by tjoseph

On Thursday, February 18, three Holy Cross Classics alums returned to campus to discuss how their education in Greek and Latin has informed their lives after college. Meg Moran ’08, a human resources executive at Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey, Ryan O’Malley ’09, an elected representative on the city council in Malden, Mass., and Colin Clark ’11, a film and television production professional in New York, reflected back on their paths since graduation and shared some wisdom with current students.

Meg Moran '08, Colin Clark '11, and Ryan O'Malley '09

Meg Moran ’08, Colin Clark ’11, and Ryan O’Malley ’09

Ryan, who worked in real estate and project management before his successful election bid this past November, singled out the semester he spent in Rome among its age-old monuments – many of which still survive and function. His public service now includes infrastructure planning, and he draws on that time in Rome when thinking about lasting solutions. “Those of us who studied ancient Rome and Greece are better prepared to look at things from a longer perspective,” said Ryan. “We think not in quarters or years, but in decades, centuries, and millennia.”

Meg, who went on to earn an MBA at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, highlighted how her Classics major has always distinguished her from others in her field. One distinguishing factor she emphasized was her ability to read things closely. “In my first internship I became known as the person who could read and edit documents with a critical eye,” she said. “Little details – little mistakes – matter, and that was something instilled in me during my Greek and Latin courses.”

Meg talks with Maggie MacMullin '16.

Meg chats with Maggie MacMullin ’16.

Colin, who has worked on television shows such as HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and films such as the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, echoed Meg’s thoughts. “My Latin and Greek courses were a mental boot camp. The structure of sentences and of language is ingrained in the heads of Classics majors – whether we want it or not!” said Colin. “I’ve been able to use these ingrained reading and editing skills for reviewing production materials.”

Colin talks with Prof. John Hamilton, whose course on the Roman satirist Juvenal has informed the stand-up comedy that Colin does along with his film production work.

Colin talks with Prof. John Hamilton, whose course on the Roman satirist Juvenal has informed the stand-up comedy that Colin does in New York, along with his film production work.

During the Q-and-A discussion with current students, Ryan brought up another habit of mind that unites Classics majors – and that has daily relevance for his work in government. “Classics majors are inquisitive people. We’re the types who get excited about the discovery of a lost scroll,” he said. “And this can spread to all aspects of our lives. We’re the ones asking more questions and deeper questions.”

Bringing 10th-century Gregorian chant to life

February 9th, 2016 by tjoseph

By Allyn Waller ’18

On Friday afternoons, Fenwick 4 comes alive with the sounds of students in the Manuscripts Club decoding the works of Jerome, Homer, and Euclid. Along with these famous authors, however, one group is working on a digital edition of a manuscript of Gregorian chants written by anonymous monks in the late tenth century.

Chanters

Allyn Waller ’18, Nicholas Guarracino ’18, and Michael Shun ’18 at work on letters and neumes.

Studying this kind of manuscript brings unique challenges. The manuscript contains text, as most manuscripts do, but also contains musical notation for the chants in the form of neumes, markers that signify the note or notes to be sung on a given syllable.

One challenge for the group working of this manuscript has been figuring out how to represent these neumes in digital form. Also, unlike the Iliad or other classical texts, there is not a way to canonically refer to a specific line of a chant. Much of the group’s work last semester was spent on ways to try to overcome these problems.

Thankfully, there is a talented troupe of teammates trying to tackle this treatise. This team includes Allyn Waller ’18, Classics major and Computer Science minor, Michael Shun ‘18, Classics and Music double major, Nicholas Guarracino ‘18, Classics major; Classics major Julia Spiegel ’19; and Ying Hong ’19, presently undeclared. Consulting the students on their work are Prof. Neel Smith of the Classics Department, the Manuscripts Club adviser; and Prof. Daniel DiCenso of the Music Department.

Of their work on the project Michael said, “I really feel like I’m in my element here. This research covers both of my fields of study; so even though I’m not taking a Latin course this semester, I still get to use some of the Latin muscles I’ve built over the years. Plus, it’s really comforting to know there are others out there that are interested in the same things I am.”

Nicholas shares Michael’s excitement about exploring these manuscripts: “After so many years of training, it feels good to finally get my hands dirty and work with real manuscripts.”

Julia, who is beginning her second semester at Holy Cross, is enthusiastic about this research opportunity: “It’s exciting to dive into research like this early in my college career. These chants are really interesting and the more we learn about them, the more interesting they get.”

“My favorite part of the Manuscripts Club, and this project in particular, is that I feel I am contributing to the overall store of human knowledge,” commented Allyn. “I’m not just reading old texts; I’m using my knowledge of those texts to create new knowledge and understanding.”