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Chair’s Annual Letter

James B. Rives
Kenan Eminent ProfessorJames Rives, chair of the department

As will come as no surprise to anyone who follows developments affecting the University of North Carolina or indeed higher education in general, this academic year has brought more challenges to the Department of Classics.  Despite the ongoing goodwill of the College administration, who support us as best as they’re able, we continue to struggle with significant budgetary pressures and a gradual decline in faculty numbers.  I am pleased to report, however, that we are actively addressing those challenges with great energy and ingenuity, and that in many respects we are continuing to thrive and indeed to develop in new and exciting ways.  Read more >>


Meet our newest faculty members…

Al Duncan

Assistant Professor

I was born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, receiving joint bachelor’s degrees in Classical Languages and Literature and English at the nearby University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. From there I went on to pursue a PhD in Classics and the Humanities from Stanford University. After many sunny days amidst books and palm trees in Palo Alto, for three years I served as Assistant Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City—a very happy place for a beginning scholar and outdoor enthusiast. After this somewhat mobile itinerary, I hope that this move to Chapel Hill (the hometown of my wife, Lauren Jarvis, a new hire in UNC’s History department) will provide an opportunity to put down some deep roots.  Read more >>

Hérica Valladares

Assistant Professor

As the daughter of Brazilian diplomats, I grew up traveling.  Every three or four years, my family and I would start a new life in a new place. Life at home and at school was always bilingual and bicultural.  At home, my parents always insisted I speak Portuguese to them, read Brazilian literature, and keep up with current events in Brazil.  At the same time, they were adamant that I attend local schools and learn the language of the country in which we were living.  By the time we moved to Washington, D.C. in 1987, I had learned French, Spanish, and English and grown used to reading books in their original languages.  Indeed, it was a youthful suspicion of translations that first drew me to Classics.  In high school, I ready Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides as part of an English class and I knew immediately that this was not enough: I needed to learn Greek!  Read more >>

Faculty News and Notes >>

More on what the faculty have been up to over the past year.  Read more >>

Achievements & awards

Out & About

Many of our graduate students and faculty participated in the annual meeting of various professional associations.  This is for a partial list of the conferences and attendees. Read more >>

Fellowships & Awards

Over the past academic year, many graduate and undergraduate Classics students have been granted prestigious awards and fellowships from multiple institutions including UNC-Chapel Hill and the Classics Department.  Read more >>

Graduate Students

Learning in London

Classics graduate students and faculty traveled to London this past September for the second annual UNC-KCL Graduate Colloquium.  Below, Tedd Wimperis shares highlights of his trip to Kings College London.

Tedd Wimperis
Graduate Student in Classics
Department Senior Teaching Fellow
KCL Tedd at KK
Tedd visited some very important landmarks in London

Travel is always a learning experience, and our annual UNC-KCL Graduate Colloquium, held this September in London, was no exception.  I will share just a few of the things I learned in the course of this journey.

Before the colloquium even began, I learned very well that the British Museum cannot be seen in its entirety in one visit.  Hans Hansen and I had high hopes during our first afternoon in the city, and after several hours of working chronologically had made it only to the Sutton Hoo artifacts.  But I will always remember my astonishment, perhaps accentuated by jet-lag, at rounding a corner and being met with the Rosetta Stone right before my eyes.  Read more >>


Controversiae Docendae

Sarah Hilker2016 grad colloquium poster
Graduate Student in Classical Archaeology

The graduate students from the Classics departments at Duke and UNC regularly join forces to host a colloquium each spring.  This April marked our 27th annual event and, instead of a traditional graduate student conference, we invited faculty for a pedagogically oriented event: “Controversiae Docendae: Teaching Sensitive Topics from the Classical World.”  We had three fantastic guest speakers: Dr. Robert Garland (Colgate University), Dr. Hunter Gardner (University of South Carolina), and our own Dr. Sharon James.

The day was organized into a series of lectures and workshops, all of which produced productive conversation on a wide range of “controversial” topics: sexual and non-sexual violence, disability, misogyny, racism, and religion.  Guided by the various experiences of our speakers and graduate students alike, we discussed not only ways of approaching difficult topics in the literary and visual material that we teach, but also actual student responses.  We talked about where problems are likely to emerge and ways in which we can help guide sophisticated conversations in the classroom.  Read more >>


Undergraduate students

Prepping a Paper

Post-Bacc Jordan Preuss shares her thoughts on presenting at the annual UNC Undergraduate Classics Conference.

Jordan Preuss
Post-Baccalaureate StudentESP conference

On April 9th, 2016 I had the privilege of giving my first academic talk at the UNC Undergraduate Classics Conference.  I knew I wanted to do more than simply read aloud a paper composed primarily to be taken in visually: I wanted to give what was genuinely a talk, to align my argument and my delivery with the medium.  This entailed making a slideshow presentation, something that often seems to me needlessly time-consuming and potentially obstructive to audience engagement.  What would anyone need to see during a philology talk, except perhaps the texts I was working from?  Not surprisingly, I actually found constructing a Powerpoint quite helpful in organizing my material for optimal oral presentation to an audience of mixed academic background.  Read more >>

Annual T-Shirt Competition!

This spring, the students in beginning and intermediate Latin courses took part in the second annual T-shirt competition with great success. Read more >>


Mark Mash named finalist for Teacher of the Year Award

Dr. Mark Mash (MA ’00, PhD ’10) made it to the final round of the selection process for the Wake County Public School System’s 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year Award.  Read more >>

Featured Alumna: Aileen Das

Aileen Das graduated from UNC with her BA in Classical Languages in 2008.  Below, she talks about how her time with the department, both before and during her college career, gave her the knowledge she needed to navigate competitive graduate programs.

Aileen Das
Class of 2008

This spring marks eight years since I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a BA in Classical Languages.  After leaving Chapel Hill, I obtained my Masters from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and then left the US to pursue my doctoral studies in Classics at the University of Warwick in the UK.  I am now an Assistant Professor in Classical Philology and Mediterranean Studies at the University of Michigan.  Read more >>