Bob Babcock named recipient of UNC Teaching Award

Robert Babcock

Professor Robert Babcock has received a Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.  Each year, five faculty members from across the university receive the award, established to “recognize excellence in inspirational teaching of undergraduate students, particularly first- and second-year students.”  The University Committee on Teaching Awards encourages students to nominate faculty, and chooses recipients who “promote the value of undergraduate teaching by example, demonstrate concern for students through interaction and approachability inside and outside the classroom, create meaningful learning experiences and maintain high expectations of their students.”  For a full list of winners, see here.

Robert Babcock is the Alumni Distinguished Professor and has been on the Classics department faculty since 2008.  His research interests include paleography, medieval Latin, and the reception of Latin authors.  You can read his full bio here.




Philip Wilson receives Lionel Pearson Fellowship

Philip is majoring in Classics with a concentration in combined Greek and Latin

Senior Classics major Philip Wilson has received the Lionel Pearson Fellowship, a major award from the Society of Classical Studies.  The fellowship awards up to $24,000 for post-graduate study in Classics at an English or Scottish university.  It is open to undergraduates in Classics throughout the US and Canada who will complete a B.A. in Greek, Latin, Classics, or a closely related field.

Philip shared his plans for the fellowship over the upcoming summer and academic year: “I will be going to Oxford to pursue a Master of Studies in Classics.  While I’m still awaiting college placement, my reading list will consist of Greek and Latin lyric poetry with an eye to the influence of philosophy and history on those traditions.  In addition, I’ll be learning paleography and codicology at the Bodleian rare books library, with particular interest in Medieval Latin epic.  Finally, I’ll be writing a dissertation (~10,000 words) on Lucretius and historiography.”

To learn more about the award, visit the SCS website here.

Congratulations to the 2017 Herington Competition Winners!

Jermaine Bryant (left) and Ashley Choo-Hen

The Herington Greek and Latin Poetry Prizes, established in 1999 by Maynard and Florence Mack in memory of John Herington, are awarded for the best oral performance of assigned passages of Greek and Latin poetry.  There are two cash prizes, one in Greek and one in Latin.  The competition, open to all undergraduates taking Greek or Latin at UNC, takes places every year in the fall.

Greek Poetry Reading Winner

Ashley Choo-Hen
Sophomore Classics major (combined Greek and Latin)

“I started learning Greek this past summer. I have a soft spot from this summer for the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, so Fortune favored me with this Hymn to the Dioscuri! This was my first time attending the Herington competition (I was out of town last year!), and it served as a lovely reminder of the unifying nature of poetry. It was great to see the different, yet familiar, faces of our department reciting either the Herington passages or poems of their choosing. I can’t wait for next year!”

Latin Poetry Reading Winner

Jermaine Bryant
Junior Latin and Political Science double major

“I’ve enjoyed reading Latin poetry since High School; my favorite authors are Vergil, Horace, and Martial.”

Department of Classics Statement on the UNC-Chapel Hill Confederate Monument

The study of Classics includes reading texts and monuments in their historical contexts, understanding the use and abuse of rhetoric, and analyzing both the stated goals of historical figures and evidence that may point to ulterior motives. Our department finds the evidence quite clear that the statue of a Confederate soldier standing in a position of honor at the entrance to our beautiful campus was both meant to be, and has served as, a monument to white supremacy.

Whatever one thinks of the motives of the common soldier in the Civil War, the evidence is indisputable that the statue was erected in 1913 as part of the white power movement of the Jim Crow era. Also beyond argument are the shameful details surrounding the establishment of the statue in Chapel Hill, from the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s overt support of white supremacy, to Julian Carr’s boastful remark at the monument’s dedication that he had “horse-whipped a negro wench” for disrespecting “a Southern lady.” It may be—indeed, must be—asked what values and meaning this monument has on our campus today. Whom does it welcome? Whom does it warn? Whose interests does it serve? Whose does it suppress?  History informs these questions, but they can be answered only in the present.

Even if famously “silent,” a single monument can speak volumes. As students of a distant and different past, we in the Department of Classics are particularly sensitive to the significance of historical monuments. We recognize a statue’s ability to encapsulate and project a coded narrative about the past and to project its values onto the present, both reflecting and reinforcing a particular ideology.  We understand, too, that context is crucial to the meanings of all monuments. These issues are not new. The Confederate monument’s dedication in 1913 says much about the people and habits of the Jim Crow south. Its eventual removal, in turn, will say much about the values and temperament of those who could no longer bear to live under its shadow.

For further information about the UNC-CH Confederate Monument, see the following links (with thanks to the Department of English and Comparative Literature).

Uncommon Ground’s online exhibition ‘Chronicling “Silent Sam”’:

Transcription of Julian Carr’s speech at the dedication of the Confederate Monument:

The University’s FAQ page on the Confederate Monument and related issues:

UNC Faculty Council’s resolution urging the removal of the Confederate Monument:

Endorsed unanimously by the faculty of the Department of Classics, 27 September 2017

1.5 Million Euro Grant Awarded to Team Including Prof. Jennifer Gates-Foster

UNC Professor Jennifer Gates-Foster is part of a small team recently awarded a 1.5 Million Euro European Research Council Starting Grant in support of their archaeological work in the Eastern Desert of Egypt.

As a member of the French Archaeological Mission to the Eastern Desert (Mission archéologique française du désert Oriental/MAFDO), the grant will support the Mission’s project: Desert Networks: Into the Eastern Desert of Egypt from the New Kingdom to the Roman period. The “Desert Networks” project aims to explore the southern part of the Eastern Desert of Egypt, located between the Nile and the Red Sea.

The ancient remains in the region are numerous and excellently preserved. Yet, due largely to the region’s remoteness and inhospitable nature, the study of their history of occupation has been static and compartmentalized, and additionally, many of the region’s most important archaeological sites are under threat from looters.

Professor Gates-Foster believes this project will revolutionize study of this region: “This project will build an innovative digital platform that combines spatial data with archaeological and textual remains in a dynamic and exciting way, allowing scholars across the globe to work collaboratively on this multi-disciplinary project even as new data is recovered through ongoing excavation.”

Professor Gates-Foster will lead a part of the team that will examine the way the resources of this region have been exploited by outside powers over time and ask questions about the economy of the region at different scales.

Berangere Redon (CNRS/University of Lyon), the project’s PI, recognizes great potential in this partnership with UNC: “I am excited to collaborate with Professor Gates-Foster on the Desert Networks project. She has a remarkable and in-depth knowledge of the Eastern Desert, where she has been working for seventeen years. She surveyed the area several times and visited most of the sites that will be examined by the project and will be included in the online atlas we wish to achieve. In addition, she will oversee one of the work packages of the project, dedicated to the analysis of the economic networks that have crossed the region during a millennium and a half.”

Professor Gates-Foster has been a member of the French Archaeological Mission to the Eastern Desert of Egypt since 2013. In her role as ceramicist and historian, Dr. Gates-Foster takes part annually in archaeological missions focused on recovering and recording Hellenistic and Roman remains from this remote desert. This project will deepen ties to the French archaeological and papyrological community and provide new research opportunities for students. The Grant will support work conducted through 2023. To learn more about the Mission’s work, visit their blog at

The Institute of the Arts and Humanities has recently released a podcast interview recorded earlier this summer with Professor Gates-Foster regarding her work with the French Archaeological Mission to the Eastern Desert.  You can listen to the podcast here.

Welcome to Patricia Rosenmeyer

The Department of Classics is delighted to welcome Patricia Rosenmeyer as our new Paddison Professor of Classics.  Professor Rosenmeyer received her PhD from Princeton in 1987 and after teaching at Michigan and Yale joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she has been since 1997.  She is a specialist in Greek poetry, especially archaic lyric and Hellenistic epigram, but her interests are strikingly wide-ranging.  Especially notable among her many publications are the groundbreaking books The Poetics of Imitation: Anacreon and the Anacreontic Tradition (1992) and Ancient Epistolary Fictions: the Letter in Greek Literature (2001).  Her most recent book, The Language of Ruins: Greek and Latin Inscriptions on the Memnon Colossus, will be published by Oxford University Press later this year.  For more about Professor Rosenmeyer, see her departmental web page.  We are excited that she is joining the Carolina Classics community!

Congratulations to our PhDs!

Congratulations to our 2017 PhDs for the successful defenses of their dissertations and for a successful season in a very tough job market.

Elizabeth Artemis Clark, ‘The Chronicle of Novalese: Translation, Text, and Literary Analysis’; Liz continues as a full-time teacher at Lakewood Montessori Middle School in Durham, after a number of years at Cedar Ridge High School in Hillsborough

Daniel Schindler, ‘Late Roman and Byzantine Galilee: A Provincial Case Study from the Perspective of the Imported and Common Pottery’; Daniel has accepted a position as Adjunct Instructor at Elon University

Tedd Wimperis, ‘Cultural Memory and Constructed Ethnicity in Vergil’s Aeneid‘; Tedd has likewise accepted a position as Adjunct Instructor at Elon University

Our other recent PhDs have also fared well:

Rex Crews (2016) continues as Adjunct Instructor at Duke University
Robyn LeBlanc (2016) continues as Lecturer at UNC Greensboro
Pablo Molina (2016) continues as a full-time teacher at the Louisiana School of Math, Science, and the Arts
Zack Rider (2016) has accepted a position as Visiting Instructor at the University of South Carolina
Katie DeBoer Simons (2016) continues as Visiting Assistant Professor at Indiana University
Erika Weiberg (2016) continues as tenure-track Assistant Professor at Florida State University
John Esposito (2015) has accepted a position as Lecturer at UNC Greensboro
Rebecca Worsham (2015) continues as Visiting Assistant Professor at Smith College
Serena Witzke (2014) has accepted a one-year position as Visiting Assistant Professor at Wesleyan University

Congratulations to them all!  For more information about the careers of our PhDs and MAs, see here, and for a full list of all PhD dissertations and MA theses, see here.


UNC Alumna Becomes Right-Wing Target

Sarah Bond, a 2011 UNC PhD in Ancient History and a familiar figure in Murphey Hall, has achieved a growing reputation in the field of digital humanities, with a popular blog and over 10,000 followers on Twitter (@SaraEBond).  Sarah, currently an Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Iowa, recently published a series of online pieces in which she connects the largely modern convention of presenting ancient Greek and Roman statuary as pure white with the appropriation of such imagery by white supremacist groups and with the lack of diversity in the field of Classics.  First came a blog post for Forbes, then a post on her personal blog, and lastly on the popular website Hyperallergic, with reflections on why this question is important for the modern study of Classics.  Sarah meant her pieces to be thought-provoking, but unfortunately they have provoked more than thought: she has become the object of personal abuse and even death threats, as described by these stories in ArtForum and the Chronicle of Higher Education. As another article in the Chronicle documents, Sarah’s experience is unfortunately part of a larger national trend that threatens the open exchange of ideas on which all good teaching and research depends.  Our colleague Jodi Magness, the current president of the Archaeological Institute of America, has issued a public statement reiterating that “the AIA is equally committed to fostering an atmosphere of peaceful and respectful dialogue among archaeologists and the public, in all forums and media” (see her full statement here).  Likewise, S. Georgia Nugent, the President of the Society for Classical Studies, has stated that “heated discussion and debate are desirable in scholarly discourse; personal abuse and violent threats have no place” (see her full statement here).  The Department of Classics is proud to register its support for Sarah and for the principles of free scholarly inquiry and debate.