Cicek Beeby awarded two grants for cemeteries study

Cicek Beeby has been awarded two UNC grants that will support her research as she launches her dissertation work on the organization and distribution of cemeteries across Greek settlements in the Geometric period.

The first grant is the Pre-Dissertation Travel Award from the Center for Global Initiatives (CGI)—this award is designed to help PhD candidates conduct preliminary research in preparation for writing a dissertation proposal. Cicek will use the funds to travel to Greece in August and select case studies for her dissertation.

The second award is the Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative (CDHI) Graduate Fellowship for 2015-2016. This fellowship will assist Cicek in navigating the digital components of her dissertation. In the fall, she plans on creating social network models of how people are connected to each other through cemeteries. In the spring, she hopes to translate these network models into spatial distribution patterns using Geometric Athens as a test case. The fellowship provides funds for research and professional development during the academic year and concludes with a summer stipend for summer 2016.

From classroom to conference

In fall 2013, Robert Babcock presented his Latin paleography graduate students with a challenge. He asked three of his students to determine the origins of a collection of over fifty eleventh-century manuscripts from the Belgian Royal Library. This neglected area of research would entail painstakingly analyzing the script, the corrections, and the marginalia of the hand-scribed documents to determine whether or not they were originally copied at the Gembloux abbey. Will Begley, John Beeby, and Keith Penich accepted the challenge and altered the way scholars understand this important collection. By identifying the origins of the manuscripts, Begley, Beeby, and Penich placed these texts in their rightful context, and went on to share their groundbreaking findings at a paleographic conference.

The valued collection of manuscripts came to Brussels in the eighteenth century from the nearby abbey of Gembloux, and contain several classical, patristic, and medieval texts, including Cicero, Lucan, Manilius, and Ovid. While textual scholars have long treasured the contents of the documents, the context of the creation of the manuscripts remained unknown. Paleographers were uncertain whether or not the manuscripts had originally been copied at the abbey or had been acquired by the abbey from elsewhere.

Will Begley, John Beeby, and Keith Penich (front, l-r), presented their work from Bob Babcock's Latin paleography class at the Texts and Contexts conference. Prof. Babcock (back) chaired the students' discussion of the origins of eleventh-century manuscripts from Gembloux, a Belgian abbey.

Will Begley, John Beeby, and Keith Penich (front, l-r), presented their work from Bob Babcock’s Latin paleography class at the Texts and Contexts conference. Prof. Babcock (back) chaired the students’ discussion of the origins of eleventh-century manuscripts from Gembloux, a Belgian abbey.

This is where Begley, Beeby, and Penich stepped in to assist Prof. Babcock and his Belgian colleague, Albert Derolez, with their comprehensive study of the collection.

The three each focused on a different aspect of the manuscripts — the script, the corrections, and the critical signs — to determine that the manuscripts did originate with the abbey. Deciphering the script, Penich analyzed the eleventh-century copy of Statius’ Thebaid and Achilleid. He compared the scribal hands of the collection to determine that the scribal hand of the Statius works matched that of one belonging to the abbey. Next, Beeby compared the scribal and correcting hands of Valerius Maximus to other manuscripts from Gembloux, finding that both hands were evident in many different Gembloux texts. Finally, Begley examined the system of critical signs, or marginalia, used in the Gembloux scriptorium in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Examining primarily Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations, he revealed how the Tusculans and other texts were read and understood by the Gembloux community.

Begley, Beeby, and Penich then translated their final papers for the course into a panel discussion at the Text and Contexts November 2014 conference at The Ohio State University. There, the academic community took note of their laborious study.

“The papers were brilliant. The manuscripts are all of prime importance for the editor of these texts, and each man had something new to say about his own,” exclaimed the conference’s keynote speaker, Francis Newton, PhD ’53, in an email after the conference.

“The UNC panel was widely described as one of the highlights of the conference,” Prof. Babcock, who chaired the session, reflected. “Our graduate students were praised for the quality, originality, and importance of their work, as well as for the clarity and organization of their presentations.”

“To me, a long-time student of Latin manuscripts and texts, it was fascinating and ground-breaking. The audience felt the same way,” continued Prof. Newton. “The presentation was professional, though I am happy to report that each also, at some point, let us see how enthusiastic he was about his project and his finds.”

Winners of poetry competition announced

We are happy to announce the winners of this year’s Herington Prizes. Among undergraduate readers, Philip Wilson took home the prize for Latin and Emily Fleming for Greek. Each won a $250 prize. Winning a rare book donated by Sara Mack, Brian McPhee presented the best graduate reading.

The annual Herington competition has been held since Maynard and Florence Mack created an endowment for the competition in 1999. Named in honor of John Herington, Prof. Mack’s husband, the undergraduate prize is intended to encourage the performance of poetry and is open to all majors taking Greek or Latin coursework at UNC.

McPhee wins Winkler Prize

We congratulate Brian McPhee, an incoming graduate student, for winning the John J. Winkler Memorial Prize. McPhee won the award for “A Puer‘s Horror, Heroism, and Humor: An Interpretation of Pseudolous III.1,” a paper he wrote for Sharon James’s seminar last fall.

The Winkler Prize is given in memory of John J. “Jack” Winkler, a classical scholar and teacher, known for his political activism in radical causes inside and outside of academe. The prize is given to scholars who pursue under-studied areas of Classics, including the ancient novel, ethnic, gender, and sexuality studies, and the social meanings of Greek drama, or employ innovative methodologies in their research. Sponsored by Oberlin College, this cash prize is given once a year to a graduate or undergraduate student.


Witzke inducted into Frank Porter Graham Graduate Honor Society

SWitzkeThe department congratulates Serena Witzke for her induction into the Frank Porter Graham Honor Society. This year, Witzke is one of 10 graduate students honored by the selective society for her service to the University above and beyond that required for her degree.

While at UNC, Witzke has distinguished herself not only academically but also for her service to the University. She also is the recipient of The Graduate School’s Dissertation Completion Fellowship for the 2013-2014 academic year. Directed by Sharon L. James, Witzke’s dissertation focuses on the reception of Classical works and is titled “Reading Greek and Roman New Comedy through Oscar Wilde’s Society Plays.” In addition to publishing some of her findings, Witzke has presented numerous papers at the American Philological Association’s and Classical Association of the Middle West and South’s conferences, and co-organized a panel at the 2014 APA meeting.

Additionally, Witzke has actively given back to the Carolina community. After arriving on campus, Witzke became involved with the Graduate and Professional Student Federation and the Student Congress, loving her work as a senator so much that she increasingly took on more duties within the organizations and became president of GPSF. This granted her the ability to reach out and to represent the interests of 11,000 graduate and professional students.

After completing her term, Witzke continued to serve the department and her greater community. She served on The Graduate School’s Residency Appeals Board to gain a greater knowledge of the process of gaining in-state tuition status and to help her fellow students through this process. She also acted as the graduate assistant for the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on Roman Comedy in the summer of 2012. Finally, she passed along her knowledge of graduate school experience by mentoring then-undergraduate Caitlin Hines, who is now in the University of Toronto’s program in Classical studies.

The Frank Porter Graham Honor Society was founded in 1990 in honor of the distinguished former president of the UNC system and state senator. All inducted students are nominated and further recommended by their departments.

Weiberg wins fellowship from American School



Graduate student Erika Weiberg has been awarded the Bert Hodge Hill Fellowship from the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. She will attend the Regular Program of the school as a Regular Student Member next year.

“Study at the ASCSA will help me integrate the material evidence offered by Greek art and epigraphy with literary analysis of texts so that we can better understand one aspect of women’s lives in ancient Greece,” Weiberg explained. Her dissertation will focus on the depiction of the traumatic effects of war on wives of returning veterans in Greek tragedy.

Weiberg becomes the third fellow from the department to join the school in the past three years. Currently Hans Hansen and Rebecca Worsham are participating in the school now.

The department’s ties to the school extend back to Eben Alexander, who formed early ties with the school during his early years as a faculty member in the department. The department’s relationship to the school was formalized when J.P. Harland was appointed as a faculty member in 1922 and our graduate program was founded. Since then, many members of the faculty have maintained our ties to the school: Henry Immerwahr was director for many years; Mary Sturgeon was a senior member, a member of the Corinth Excavations, a Whitehead Professor, and chair of the Managing Committee; and Ken Sams has long served as a voting member of the school’s Managing Committee. Donald Haggis’s archaeological site, the Azoria Project, also excavates under a permit from the school.

Earlier in the year, Weiberg also received special departmental recognition, wining the Preston H. and Miriam L. Epps Prize in Greek Studies for 2014.



UNC-Duke graduate students host workshop on pedagogy

This year the graduate students in Classics at Duke University and UNC are collaborating to organize the Inaugural Duke-UNC Graduate Workshop in Classics Pedagogy, which will take place the weekend of March 28-30, 2014. The workshop addresses an expressed interest among the graduate students in both departments in a wider conversation on pedagogy and its important role in their careers as PhD students and soon-to-be faculty members.

The organizing students received a Kenan-Biddle Partnership Grant to help fund the workshop, and are inviting three professors – Prof. Nita Krevans from the University of Minnesota, Prof. Andrea Berlin from Boston University, and Prof. Joan Connelly from NYU – to speak on pedagogy issues and to teach pedagogy workshops during the weekend.

More information can be found at the website for the event.

Colloquium schedule

Azoria Project accepting volunteer applications

Donald Haggis’s Azoria Project is now accepting volunteer applications for its summer 2014 field school. Applications are due April 1, and may be accessed through the Azoria website.

The Azoria Project has received international acclaim for its innovative Archaeological practices, winning the Archaeological Institute of America’s award for Best Site practices and a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Co-directers Donald Haggis and Margaret Mook are lauded for simultaneously excavating and preserving the Early Iron Age-Archaic site on the island of Crete. They involve and educate locals in creating an eco-archaeological tourist site.

This is an opportunity for students to gain archaeological experience in the field and to culturally immerse themselves in the Greek culture. Volunteers will live alongside locals in Pacheia Ammos and Kavousi, two villages near the site, and work with students and locals at the site.




The Graduate School recently recognized Elizabeth Robinson, PhD ’13, for her many academic achievements and research experience in Italy.

Robinson, a member of The Graduate School’s Royster Society of Fellows, spent the last four years researching her dissertation on the ancient town Larinum, living on-site in the small village of Larino that rests on top of the ancient settlement. In the fall, she will begin her position as an assistant professor at the Duke University Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome.

To learn about Robinson’s experiences in Italy, visit The Graduate School’s website. READ MORE >>


We congratulate the winners of our annual Herington Prize in Latin and Greek poetry performance for the fall 2012. Undergraduates Heather Swanson and Caitlin Hines respectively impressed the departmental judges with their Latin and Greek readings, and Zack Rider bested his fellow graduate students with a Greek passage of his own choosing.

The Herington Prize was established in 1999 by Maynard and Florence Mack in honor of John Herington. Two undergraduates who perform the best reading of preselected Latin and Greek poems are awarded $200 each. The graduate winner receives a rare book donated by Sara Mack, professor emerita.