Archive for the ‘Student scholarship’ Category

Students share research on the Iliad at international conference in Heidelberg

May 16th, 2017 by tjoseph

By Charlie Schufreider ’17 and Melody Wauke ’17

Hallo!

On May 12 and 13 we had the opportunity to attend “Digital Classics III: Re-thinking Text Analysis,” a conference held at the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Heidelberg, Germany. For those as uninformed as we were before this trip, Heidelberg is an incredibly beautiful city.

Melody on the banks of the Neckar River.

The conference allowed us to present many of the results from our respective senior theses. Melody’s thesis is titled, “Alexandrian editors and the scholia of the Venetus A” while Charlie’s thesis is titled “On the format of the scholia to the Iliad in the Venetus A.”

Both of us were working on applying digital tools in order to analyze patterns of language within the scholia (or scholarly commentary) to the Iliad in the tenth-century Venetus A manuscript. In addition to our research, we also discussed more generally the methodology of the Homer Multitext project. This portion of the talk was prepared and developed by our thesis advisor, Professor Neel Smith; however, he was ultimately unable to attend the conference.

Beyond our own presentation, we were also able to listen to talks from several digital Classicists. From their presentations and the discussions which followed, we learned a great deal about different ways to analyze Classical texts using digital technologies. We were particularly interested by the couple of talks which detailed automated analyzes of the language in Greek tragedy. For example, Francesco Mambrini of the German Archaeological Institute was able to show how the Paedagogus from Sophocles’ tragedy Electra speaks in a manner most similar to the choruses of Sophocles’ plays. (Click here for a link to the full conference program.)

Melody and Charlie at the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. They were joined on the conference program by faculty from the University of Leipzig, the University of Paris, Oxford University, and other institutions around Europe.

However, attending the conference was only one part of this trip. There was ample time for us to explore the culture and history of Heidelberg. Sausages with sauerkraut were a mainstay of almost every meal, but the real highlight was getting to explore the large Heidelberg Castle along with its gardens. Due to our early morning arrival in the city, the castle was largely devoid of tourists, making the sights all the more enjoyable. The crown jewel of the castle was its surprising collection of increasingly large barrels, the biggest of which is shown below.

In the end, we are extremely thankful to the Ignite Fund for covering the expenses necessary for this trip. We were able not only to visit this incredible city but also to grow more experienced as scholars of Digital Classics.

Charlie and the largest barrel of all.

Advanced Archaeology Course Explores “Time and Cosmos” Exhibit in NYC

March 7th, 2017 by tjoseph

By Kelsey Littlefield ‘17

On Saturday, February 25, fourteen students from Professor Neel Smith’s “Archaeology and Time” course explored the “Time and Cosmos in Greco-Roman Antiquity” exhibit, curated by the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, an affiliate of New York University (NYU).

Christine Roughan ’14 (front left) welcomes the class to the “Time and Kosmos” exhibit.

Christine Roughan ’14, a Classics major and physics minor while at the College and currently a Ph.D. candidate at NYU, gave Prof. Smith’s class a private docent tour upon arrival. The exhibit allowed students to connect their previous knowledge of timekeeping methods garnered from the course with practical, technologically advanced possessions from antiquity. Some featured objects in the exhibit included numerous public and portable sundials (a way for the ancients to calculate the passage of time by observing the shadows cast by the sun); the Roman calendar, or fasti, carved in marble; surveying instruments; and other tools for timekeeping.

On the tour Roughan highlighted the importance of astrology and the zodiac symbols that we know in modernity as a way for ancient Greeks and Romans to reflect on time and the universe’s dual partnership that had the power to shape the environment and destiny.

“Archaeology and Time” is an advanced archaeology course that aims to understand what kinds of evidence and reasoning lie behind chronological claims about events, such as Xerxes invading Greece in 480 B.C. and Mount Vesuvius erupting precisely on Aug. 24, A.D. 79, by means of literary/historical sources and other dating methods. In addition, the course allows students to blend theoretical reasoning with hands-on research that will culminate in a research project that assesses and seeks to explain a chronological problem through the use of primary evidence.

Hanna Seariac ’20 dishes up food for thought at Mass. JCL Classics Day

January 4th, 2017 by tjoseph

By Hanna Seariac ’20

On December 1 I presented at Boston University for the Massachusetts Junior Classical League Classics Day, attended by over 850 high school students and teachers. I was there as one of a handful of college undergraduates, known as Senior Classical Leaguers. My presentation, titled “Wine and Dine in Ancient Rome,” considered the culinary and dining customs in ancient Greece and, especially, ancient Rome.

In the presentation I moved from sharing what would happen at a convivium, symposium, and every day dining to representations of food in literature, using Plautus, Horace, Juvenal, Catullus, and Plato as key examples. I discussed how certain literary features originate from ancient uses of different foods, citing, for example, Emily Gowers’ interpretation of the Atellan farce character “Maccus” as being connected to the name of a mashed cereal dish.

Hanna at the podium at Boston University

Hanna at the podium at Boston University

Furthering this point, I began to discuss my own interpretation of “false Epicureanism” in Juvenal and Horace, asserting that the idea of luxury that they each bring up in their satires by including Falernian wine and other expensive dining items parallels the attitude of real Epicureans, despite the fact that it conflicts with their own ideals.

Moving forward to Catullus’ thirteenth poem, I discussed the cena, or dinner party, as a way to advance politically, but also in a metaphorical sense. I considered how the modern film interpretation of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby portrays a dinner scene between Tom and Daisy where no food is eaten. In Catullus 13, Catullus invites Fabullus over for dinner without having any food on the table. Furthermore, at the dinner scene in The Great Gatsby, Tom and Daisy spend their time “conspiring” as Tom promises to make Daisy happy. Catullus wants to spend his time “conspiring” as he promises to give Fabullus true friendship. Cena and convivium in both instances come to represent more than just a meal, but also the idea of a communion – or conspiring – over food.

My presentation was followed by a brief question and answer session, mostly focused on what I thought about the use of words such as sal as having a double meaning, “salt” and “wit.” To this I said “Well, look at our use of the word ‘salty.’”

HC students use podcasts to offer a modern take on the ancient environment

November 21st, 2016 by tjoseph

Heroes battling rivers, eagles predicting the future, temples located on spectacular mountain peaks! The natural world played a central role in so many aspects of the lives of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and this semester a group of Holy Cross students in Prof. Aaron Seider’s new course “Nature in the Classical World” will be sharing their ideas on these topics and more in a series of eleven Podcast episodes.

So, if you’re intrigued by the notion of exploring what the Greeks and Romans thought about topics like nature and spirituality, reincarnation and the universe, or humans and animals, then I’d encourage you to subscribe: https://itun.es/i6hC9dB. You’ll be fascinated by what you hear.

Discoveries in the Dirt at Poggio del Molino

October 18th, 2016 by tjoseph

By Allyn Waller ’18

This past summer, I had the privilege and the pleasure of working on an archaeological excavation at Poggio del Molino in central Italy. Along with two other Holy Cross students, Amanda Kondek ’17 and Eric Fox ’18, I spent several weeks kneeling on rocks, scraping dirt off of other dirt, discovering how much rock looks like pottery, and vice-versa.

A Day in the Life

On a typical day, we would get up early in the morning, eat breakfast, pack lunches and head to the dig site. Five minutes down a dirt road in between fields of grapes and we arrived at the site. After digging for a few hours, painstakingly scraping the dirt up one layer at a time, checking each object for archeological significance and brushing up the dust, we took a coffee break. After half an hour or so sitting in the shade, it was back to work again.

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Preparing to dig are (L to R) Alena, a graduate student in archaeology at the University of Arizona; Allyn Waller ’18 (the author of this piece); Martina, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Bologna; and Amber Groves, who recently completed her Master’s in Archaeology at the University of Indiana. (Photo by Amanda Kondek ’17)

When we found something in the layer we were removing, we would carefully remove the dirt around it to determine if it was fully contained in the layer. If it was, we removed it and placed it in a bag for later cleaning and labeling. Unless, of course, it was actually a rock. Determining whether something was a rock or pottery sherd, however, was not always easy. “Is this rock or pottery?” was a constant refrain for the first few days, at least until one of the grad students at the site explained that we could always lick it and find out. (Apparently, since pottery is porous, it will stick to your tongue if you lick it.)

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Probably not rocks. (Photo by Allyn Waller ’18)

Eventually, it was time for lunch. (That is, if you weren’t full from licking rocks all morning.) During lunch, we had the opportunity to talk to the other people who were working on the site with us. Each week, there was a different group working with us on the dig. One week, it was a group of Italian high school students who were spending their summer trying out different jobs a week at a time, getting a feel for what they wanted to do. Another, it was a group of students from all over Europe and North America as part of a summer program in archaeology. For two weeks, we had a group of restoration experts working on the mosaics of the baths and bedrooms.

History

But Poggio del Molino was more than just a rich Roman’s mosaicked country retreat. It began, in fact, with pirates. The earliest structures we have evidence of at Poggio del Molino are three towers designed for defending the nearby Etruscan settlement of Populonia from pirates. Later, after the Roman republic controlled the area and mitigated the threat of piracy, the site became a factory for producing garum, a sauce made from pickling fish intestines.

During the Empire, as it became cheaper to produce garum in newly-acquired territories like North Africa, it was turned into a country villa for some wealthy Roman family. Sometime in Late Antiquity, the bedrooms of the villa were reconstructed into a small church by knocking all interior walls down and walling up the doorways.

Cool Finds

Due to this varied history, there were lots of really interesting things to be found at our site. Several bronze coins, ranging in size and preservation from a small speck just half the size of a pinky nail up to an inch-wide disc with legible writing and a clear profile were found in and around the area we worked in. We found evidence of iron-mongering operations, including leftover iron slag, hematite ore, and the burns left by furnaces on the floor. I found a small block of lead, which I thankfully recognized before anyone licked it. We found both bronze and iron nails, as well as some larger, but mostly unrecognizable, iron pieces.

rock-wall

When the same site is used for hundreds of years, sometimes you get walls in between other walls. (Photo by Allyn Waller ’18)

We found pottery, of course. Most of it was fairly coarse cooking ware or simple dining or storage pottery, but I did find a fancy painted black-slipware piece from the fourth century BCE. Of course, the excitement from finding it was slightly marred by the fact that it should not have been there. I found it in the uppermost layer of soil, the humus, under the roots of a big pine tree. Chronologically, we should have been finding cassette tapes and floppy disks, not pottery pushing 2500 years.

That strangely located piece, however, has to contend with another for the best find of the summer: The Italian high school students working the room next to ours found a completely intact clay lamp! It looked as if it had just been pulled out from behind the glass in a museum display. It was absolutely incredible, although my expectations might have been slightly lowered by 87,492 things I had found that day that weren’t pottery, much less intact.

Of course, it wasn’t all kneeling on rocks and scraping dirt out of tree roots. On weekends we were free to take trips to various cities around Italy, so we saw a lot of museums (and gelaterias). To me, though, the most exciting museum was the one in the modern-day town of Populonia, where most of the collection came from Poggio del Molino. I like knowing that the things I excavated could end up in a museum someday, informing future Classicists. Increasing our knowledge about the world of around two thousand years ago is worth a little dirt-scraping and root-kneeling. But maybe not rock-licking.

Allyn, from Atlanta, Georgia, is a Classics major with a minor in Computer Science. He is also completing the Teacher Education Program at Holy Cross.

ICYMI: Holy Cross Classics links from Summer 2016

September 3rd, 2016 by tjoseph

Click on the hyperlinks in bold to proceed to the pieces:

*In May Gabe Weaver ’04 was named the first-ever Herman M. Dieckamp Post-Doctoral Fellow by the Information Trust Institute (ITI) at the University of Illinois.

*In June the new crime novel Brighton by Michael Harvey ’84 was published by HarperCollins.

*In June Kevin Spinale ’00 was ordained into the Society of Jesus.

*Luis Perez ’17 reflected on his experience in the Maymester program “Rome in History and Imagination.”

*Daniel Cavoli ’80, Latin teacher at St. Edward’s High School in Rocky River, OH, was honored with the Kraft Award for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching for 2015-16, given out by the Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS).

*In July Brian Clark ’15, Claude Hanley ’18, Stephanie Lindeborg ’13, Melody Wauke ’17, and Prof. Neel Smith presented research at the Digital Humanities 2016 conference in Krakow, Poland.

*In July Prof. Tom Martin’s new book Pericles: A Biography in Context was published by Cambridge University Press.

*In August Christine Bannan ’14, a third-year student at the University of Notre Dame Law School, wrote about the threat of the “Internet of Things” for the journal Tech Crunch. Christine is the winner of the 2016 Edelson PC Consumer Privacy Scholarship.

*In August Prof. Martin spoke with Quartz.com about the “Games of Hera,” a series of footraces among female athletes described by Pausanias.

Natasha Meyer ’16 speaks about excavation of ancient infant cemetery

April 23rd, 2016 by tjoseph

By Gregory Chin ’18

Natasha2

Natasha Meyer ’16 before her presentation to the Introduction to Archaeology class.

This past Tuesday Natasha Meyer ’16 visited the Introduction to Archaeology class taught this semester by Prof. Ellen Perry. Natasha talked to us about her senior thesis work and research concerning the micro-excavations of the Kylindra infant cemetery on the Greek island of Astypalaia. Her goal was to foster an ongoing dialogue and understanding between cultural anthropology and biological archaeology concerning how and why the funerals in the Kylindra cemetery occur. That’s some pretty intriguing stuff, and it is hard to believe that a current student is doing such groundbreaking work — part of the average day and life of a Holy Cross student, I guess.

Natasha first delved into the logistical background behind Astypalaia, addressing its population, history, and location. After establishing this foundation, she went about dating the cemetery by using information gained from items found during the excavation, such as amphorae (tall jars) and other burial pottery in which the remains had been placed. This connected almost seamlessly to what we were doing in class (and what we would have to do on a slide exam the following class day!).

She also explained how a “micro” excavation worked, and how members of a field school would have to carefully deal with the infants’ remains, trying to keep them intact and in their exact position before taking pictures and measurements. In addition to this, Natasha acknowledged that, biologically speaking, it would be difficult to uncover the cause of death for the approximately three thousand infants found so far.

However, it would be too easy to stop there, to have an “oh well, we tried” moment that Holy Cross students refer to jokingly in the face of all of our studies. What was perhaps the most interesting point of Natasha’s presentation was her possible explanations for why the infants were buried here at Astypalaia, and in the way they were. Natasha considered and then cast doubt on both infanticide and the existence of a widespread plague or disease as explanations for the many burials in this cemetery. Instead, she argued that the evidence hinted at the possibility of Astypalaia serving as a birthing or healing sanctuary.

Furthermore, according to Natasha’s research, the placement of the babies within the pots perhaps suggested a symbolic rebirth of the infant into the afterlife, a movement proposed to “fix the universe” according to Natasha, Prof. Perry, and her thesis director Prof. Rodgers of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, who was also present for the presentation.

I do know one thing, though. Natasha’s conversation has definitely “fixed” what would have been a normal Tuesday afternoon after class, filling it with questions, answers, and the notion that perhaps the human body is an artifact itself, revealing not only who we are, but who we are in the context of our culture and communities as well. It was an amazing experience, and I can tell that Natasha will go on to do amazing things in the future.

Spirited discussion at student-faculty colloquium on the Aeneid

April 18th, 2016 by tjoseph
Colloq 1

A student group projects and analyzes passages from Books 1 and 12 of the poem.

Troy? The gods? Love? Nature? Arms and the man? These topics and more were the subject of spirited discussion among students and faculty from Holy Cross and beyond at the Classics Department colloquium “Vergilian Beginnings: Looking Ahead from Aeneid 1-4” on the afternoon of April 14.

The colloquium was centered around presentations by groups of students from Prof. Aaron Seider’s spring seminar on the Aeneid. After each presentation, Professors Sarah McCallum of Harvard University and James Uden of Boston University offered commentary and questions, as did members of the audience.

Jack Champagne ’19, Nicholas Jalbert ’16, Liam Prendergast ’19, and Melody Wauke ’17 began the event with a consideration of the epic’s deer similes, a group of passages which lend an air of inevitability to Turnus’ doom at the end of the poem.

Questions of Fate were taken up once more by the following student group, as Toni Armstrong ’19, Claude Hanley ’18, and Julia Spiegel ’19 provocatively questioned whether Fate, like so much else in Vergil’s masterpiece, may simply be a matter of perspective.

Sarah McCallum of Harvard University (second from left) talks with students during the break.

Sarah McCallum of Harvard University (second from left) talks with students during the break.

Offering one last bit of intellectual sustenance before the colloquium’s first break for cheese, cookies, and drinks, Maretta Guiendon ’16, Michael Kelley ’18, Andrew Morfill ’18, and Corey Scannell ’18 provided a bracing take on Aeneas’ leadership or, rather, lack thereof. In the colloquium’s final student presentation, Luke Griese ’18, Chris Ryan ’16, Charlie Schufreider ’17, and Jason Steranko ’17 wove together many of our themes in a nuanced consideration of how the same divine forces that set the epic’s plot in motion return once more in its final scenes.

Lastly, Professors McCallum and Uden treated the group to presentations of their own scholarship on the Aeneid. Professor McCallum spoke about how the genre of elegy enriches Vergil’s epic and Professor Uden discussed the intersection of medicine and poetry in Aeneid 12.

Debate among students over Aeneas' leadership qualities spills over into the break.

Debate among students over Aeneas’ leadership qualities spills over into the break.

With our colloquium complete, all joined in to continue the conversation over refreshments and to begin mulling over questions that will remain with us for the remainder of this academic year and, hopefully, much longer.

Post post by Prof. Aaron Seider.

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.”

In case you missed it: more HC Classics stories from 2015

December 23rd, 2015 by tjoseph

Click on the hyperlinks for the following stories about Holy Cross Classics students, alums, and faculty:

*In March Jason Steranko ’17 presented his paper on war and peace in the Roman historian Sallust at an undergraduate colloquium at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C.

*In May Nik Churik ’15 was awarded a Fulbright to study Byzantine Greek texts at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

*In May Stephanie Lindeborg ’13 and Prof. Neel Smith spoke on the panel “Let’s Get Digital” at a meeting of the Classical Association of Canada in Toronto.

*In June Steve Stack ’94 began his term as the president of the American Medical Association, becoming the youngest AMA president since 1854.

*In June Ed Brzytwa ’99 was named the director of global policy for localization, trade, and multilateral affairs for the Information Technology Industry Council.

*In July Robert Dudley ’08, a Ph.D. candidate at Duke University, was awarded his second Fulbright, to study Cicero’s reception of Plato at Freie Universität in Berlin.

*Over the summer Brian Clark ’15, Claude Hanley ’18, Stephanie Neville ’17, Charlie Schufreider ’17, Alex Simrell ’16, and Melody Wauke ’17 unraveled the mystery of a Homeric scholion.

*In July the website Academic Minute interviewed Prof. Neel Smith on his work with digital texts.

*In September Nik Churik ’15 and Prof. Neel Smith spoke at a conference on the digital humanities in Grenoble, France.

*In November David Bonagura ’03, Classics instructor at Regis High School in New York, inquired about the poet Virgil and Catholicism. In December David discussed his work with Cardinal Dolan of New York.

*In December Tabitha Lord ’93 published her first science-fiction novel, Horizon.