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During the summer of 2012, Sharon L. James co-directed the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on Roman Comedy in Performance with Tim 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.

Below Christopher Bungard, assistant professor at Butler University, divulges why he applied to participate in the institute, and how its theatrical bend changed the way he approaches Classics.

Christopher Bungard

I participated in the program because I thought it was a great way to meet both experienced scholars of Roman comedy, but also a chance to connect with up and coming scholars who will be my exact peers over the years of my career.

The institute was a phenomenal experience. I look forward to collaboration projects with both scholars inside and outside of Classics.

I think the chance to work with theater practitioners gave me a chance to test thoughts that were rooted in how a script for performance differs from a text as we have it from antiquity. This experience also gave me a sense that a scene does not have to just play one way. In Classics, we might be drawn to the “right” reading, but the practice of theater suggests that there is a fundamental problem with that kind of approach. Plautus is differing things to different audiences, and that makes more sense as a result of my experience with this program.