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LETTER FROM GERMANY

Prof. Baragwanath with her daughter visiting a German castle.
Prof. Baragwanath with her daughter visiting a German castle.

After winning an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, Emily Baragwanath left Chapel Hill to live in Germany with her husband Sean and their daughter Julia from January 2013 to June 2014. Below the New Zealand native shares how she and her globetrotting family are adjusting to a new language, a new locale, and tempting chocolates and sausages.

Emily Baragwanath
associate professor

Touching down on German soil in early January (after the long trek back to North Carolina from New Zealand, leaving just a day to pack up the house) was a great relief — qualified only by the immediate realization of just how ill-equipped we were to communicate with the locals in the land that would be our home for the next year and a half. Our two-year-old Julia aptly conveyed our feelings in describing ‘how they speak at daycare after her first day of kindy: ‘ba ba ba ba ba’. (Which of course is how the Greeks described the speech of unintelligible barbaroi.)

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NEH SUMMER INSTITUTE: ROMAN COMEDY IN PERFORMANCE A YEAR LATER

Watch all of the institute's videos online here.
Watch all of the institute’s videos online here.

During the summer of 2012, Sharon L. James co-directed the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on Roman Comedy in Performance with Timothy Moore, PhD ’86. With the help of visiting faculty consultants, Profs. James and Moore lead 25 participants through the rough and tumble world of Roman comedy. Together they created multiple performance versions of scenes from Plautus and Terence by experimenting with staging, actors, translation, choreography, and more. By doing so, they crafted an excellent series of videos that relates the ancient plays to our modern society.

When reading Plautine jokes with her undergraduates Sharon James always grappled to explain why Romans would have laughed at the same dark lines about slave torture, forced prostitution, and rape that made her students grimace. She also wondered just how Romans would have received such the comedic writings of Plautus and Terence. Did Romans really find this stuff funny when watching it performed?

“These plays are rarely staged” today, James explained, “largely because those elements are so disturbing.” READ MORE >>

EMERITI VOLUNTEER AT CHAPEL HILL SCHOOLS

Emeriti Sara Mack, George Houston, and Bill West regularly volunteer to read with third-graders at local elementary schools. Here they share their new teaching experiences since retiring from the department. READ MORE >>

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