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McKibben Lecture 2016: Jeffrey Hurwit

Photo of Jeffrey HurwitJeffrey Hurwit, an internationally recognized expert on the Athenian Acropolis, will give a free, public lecture about sculptures on the Parthenon at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, April 21, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. His talk is the 11th annual McKibben Lecture in Classical Studies, sponsored by the Department of Classics.

In "Helios Rising: The Sun, the Moon, and the Sea in the Sculptures of the Parthenon," Hurwit will share some of his current research on the art and architecture of the temple on the Athenian Acropolis.

Jeffrey Hurwit

Hurwit is the Philip H. Knight Professor Emeritus of History of Art and Architecture at the University of Oregon. He has published four books, one on the art and culture of early Greece, two on the Athenian Acropolis and, just this year, a book on Greek vase-painting titled "Artists and Signatures in Ancient Greece." He has been the recipient of numerous honors, including the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1987.

He is also a sought-after lecturer, holding the Martha S. Joukowsky Lectureship for the Archaeological Institute of America in 2000-01; the inaugural lectureship for the Dorothy Burr Thompson Memorial Lecture in 2003; and conducting several successful tours of Greece and the Mediterranean for the Smithsonian Institution.

The McKibben Lecture in Classical Studies

The McKibben Lecture in Classical Studies is sponsored by the Department of Classics and honors Bill and Betty McKibben, whose combined service to Grinnell College and to the greater Grinnell community totaled more than a century. 

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Grinnellians Earn Esteemed Watson Fellowships

Lane Atmore ’16 of St. Paul, Minn., and Chase Booth ’16 of Wichita, Kan., have been awarded the prestigious Watson Fellowship for one year of independent study and travel abroad.

They are two of 40 students selected nationwide to receive the $30,000 fellowship for postgraduate study from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation.

The students’ projects will take them around the world during their Watson year.

Lane Atmore

Lane AtmoreAtmore, an anthropology and Chinese major, will travel to Guam, Micronesia, Thailand, Greenland, Russia, and Greece to examine “Boat Culture as Island Identity” in coastal communities.

She plans to attend festivals, live with local families, and work with boat builders and cultural leaders to study the relationship between boat culture and island identity. She hopes to be able to find some universal aspects of island culture, as well as see how climate change and globalization have impacted traditional island communities.

“I’m most excited about deepening my appreciation and knowledge of something that I love and also understanding how much it means to the people I will be living with,” Atmore said. “I’m going into this with no expectations and an open mind, excited to learn what the world has to teach me.”

“Lane put a great deal of thought, passion and effort into crafting her wonderfully original Watson proposal,” said Jon Andelson ’70, professor of anthropology. “I know from having supervised her summer MAP (Mentored Advanced Project) research last summer that she will bring an open mind, a discerning eye, and a boundless curiosity to her Watson project.”

An accomplished pianist, Atmore won a piano competition despite breaking her right elbow and learning a one-handed piece only three days before the contest.

Following her Watson year, Atmore plans to pursue a doctorate in anthropology and continue to do field research.

Chase Booth

Chase BoothBooth, a classics major, will journey to Australia, South Africa, Greece, and Ireland to study the different forms of support offered in response to a community’s shared emotional crisis.

His project, “Emotional Support in Communities Under Duress,” will investigate whether the support offered by government-funded agencies and nongovernmental organizations is responsive to the needs of various communities. These communities include the displaced aboriginal populations in Australia, black youth and students in South Africa, sexual assault victims-survivors in Ireland, and victims of the economic crisis in Greece.

“While traveling around the world is obviously a huge part of the Watson and something I am looking forward to, having the opportunity to pursue something I love and care about in depth will surely be the most rewarding part of my year abroad,” Booth said. “I can’t thank enough everyone who has helped me get to this point in my life.”

“I am thrilled for Chase” said Monessa Cummins, associate professor of classics and Booth’s faculty adviser. “He embraced academic and personal challenges at Grinnell and is now well poised to take on the rigors and opportunities of a Watson year abroad.”

Booth served as co-leader of Grinnell Monologues, a student group in which participants write and present essays on emotional well-being and self-perception.

After his Watson year, Booth hopes to work for a program similar to the Schuler Scholar Program, which provides support to underprivileged Chicago-area high school students going to selective universities. Then he intends to apply to law school and pursue opportunities in civil and human rights law.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program offers college graduates of unusual promise a year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States to foster effective participation in the world community.

Grinnell has been a partner with the Watson program since it was established in 1968. With the announcement of this year’s Watson Fellows, 75 Grinnell students have received this prestigious award.

Learn more about what a fellowship can mean through the journey of Wadzanai Motsi ’12, an earlier Watson winner.

Inventing the Female Nude

Professor Andrew Stewart will deliver the tenth annual McKibben Lecture in Classical Studies, “Inventing the Female Nude: Praxiteles, Phryne, and the Knidia,” at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, April 23, 2015, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101. The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

Perhaps the most famous statue of the ancient Greek sculptor Praxiteles was his lost masterpiece, the Aphrodite of Knidos, which was copied numerous times. The lecture will discuss the statue’s alleged model, the sculptor’s mistress Phryne; its consequent address to its audiences, both male and female; the messages that it may have sought to send to each of them; and selected episodes in its reception from the Renaissance to the present.

About Andrew Stewart

Andrew StewartStewart is professor of ancient Mediterranean art and archaeology and Petris Professor of Greek Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Cambridge University.

Stewart has taught at the University of Otago in New Zealand as well as at the University of California, and he has held visiting appointments at The Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and at the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin. He is curator of Mediterranean archaeology for the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at U. C. Berkeley, and he has conducted archaeological fieldwork in Crete, New Zealand, and Israel.

His many honors and awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Distinguished Teaching Award from U. C. Berkeley. Among his extensive publications are eight books, including a recent introduction to art in the Hellenistic world, published by Cambridge University Press, and an earlier, two-volume study of Greek sculpture.

About the McKibben Lectures

The McKibben Lecture in Classical Studies is sponsored by the Department of Classics and honors Bill and Betty McKibben, whose combined service to Grinnell College and to the greater Grinnell community totaled more than a century. 

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. The Joe Rosenfield '25 Center has accessible parking in the lot on the east side of the building. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. Accommodation requests may be made to conference operations.

Trustee’s Pledge will Advance Study of the Classics

M. Anne Spence, a 1966 graduate and a member of its Board of Trustees, has pledged a gift to the College of $300,000, one-half of which will establish a fund in honor of two of her high school teachers.

The Elson-McGinty Fund will be used to subsidize interdisciplinary team-teaching by faculty in Classics with their colleagues in other departments. It will also provide summer fellowships for students who wish to take accelerated summer courses in Latin or Greek so that they can take advanced courses in Classics at Grinnell.

The remaining balance of Spence’s commitment directs equal amounts toward the campaign to renovate Alumni Recitation Hall/Carnegie Hall, the Pioneer Fund, and the 1966 Reunion Fund.

“Anne Spence’s generous gift exemplifies reflective, outcome-based philanthropy,” said Grinnell President Raynard S. Kington. “In honoring those who inspired her intellectual growth, Anne is ensuring that deserving students have access to interdisciplinary experiences that will greatly appreciate in value over their entire lifetimes.”

Spence created the Elson-McGinty Fund in honor of Nathan Hale High School (Tulsa, Okla.) teachers Janet Elson and Martin McGinty. According to Spence, teachers Elson (English) and McGinty (history) fired her curiosity and instilled in her a motivation for lifelong learning.

“Through their enthusiasm for literature and for history, these two outstanding high school teachers brought their subjects to life for me in very special ways,” Spence says. “Although I was exposed to the Classics at Grinnell 50 years ago, I didn’t truly appreciate the relevance for today. Selected readings in the last couple of years brought me to an "ah-ha" moment, revealing the myriad of connections between that ancient period of our history and issues we face today. At a time when other institutions are dropping the Classics, I am thrilled to invest in students’ understanding of them now, not later in their lives.” 

Anne SpenceSpence, a Nathan Hale High School alumna, graduated from Grinnell College in 1966 with a degree in biology. After earning a Ph.D. in human genetics from the University of Hawaii in 1969, she received the National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina. She is professor emerita in the Department of Pediatrics, University of California, Irvine.

The Elson-McGinty Fund will have an immediate impact on three Grinnell students who exemplify the ways in which Classics coursework enhance scholastic and career goals: Ella Nicolson ‘18 is a first-year student who has already taken 300-level Latin. She will add the study of Greek this summer in order to accelerate her work on a Classics major as she also pursues a major in economics. 

“The support that the Classics Department has given me to follow my dreams and goals simply reaffirms to me that Grinnell is the right place for me,” Nicolson says. “It's something I would not have imagined myself doing before coming here, but now, with so much support behind me, it's an opportunity I can't wait to explore.”

Sarah Hubbard ‘17, a second-year studio art major with coursework in Latin, also has decided in favor of a major in Classics. Summer coursework in Greek will aid in that pursuit and allow her to engage in an off-campus study program in Rome during her senior year.

Second-year student and philosophy major Elijah Giuliano ‘17 does not expect to major in Classics. The study of Latin will accommodate his move into 300-level literature courses, assist in the study of medieval and early modern philosophers, and will provide intellectual preparation for law school.

“Anne Spence’s gift to the Department of Classics — the Elson-McGinty Fund — presents a tremendous opportunity for enhancing the role of Classics on Grinnell’s campus,” said Monessa Cummins, chair of the Classics Department,.“With our colleagues in other disciplines we will be developing new contexts for teaching Classics.  This initiative reflects Anne’s ambition to extend the reach of Classics from its traditional place at the heart of the liberal arts curriculum into direct encounters with modern disciplines and issues.”

The Classics program at Grinnell encompasses study of the Greek and Latin languages as well as the history, literature, art, archaeology, mythology, and philosophy of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. Students can study in Athens and Rome. Majors in classics go on to careers in many fields, including education, law, medicine, scientific research, business, and librarianship.

“Our memories can easily be filled with the impact teachers have on our lives, and Anne Spence has taken the impressive step to honor those who changed her life,” said Shane Jacobson, vice president for Development and Alumni Relations. “This pledge not only honors the past, the investment will  also help ensure that the excellence of a Grinnell education remains strong because of the role of our facilities and programs.”

Spence’s pledge includes direct support for the ARH/Carnegie facility campaign. This facility houses the Classics Department. The ARH/Carnegie campaign will support an upgrade to buildings dedicated in 1916 and 1905, respectively, and that have not been thoroughly renovated in decades.

Anne Spence was elected to the Grinnell College Board of Trustees in 2001. She has served as associate dean in the graduate division at University of California, Los Angeles and vice chancellor of academic programs at the University of California, Irvine. An active teacher, she led research in human genetics that focused on neurological and physical birth defects. She has been a member of the American Society of Human Genetics, the Genetics Society of America, and the Behavioral Genetics Association. In 1979, Spence received the Woman of Science Award at UCLA, and Grinnell awarded her an honorary degree in 1999. In 2001, she received the annual leadership award from the International Genetic Epidemiology Society.

The Roman Mosaics of Tunisia

Nejib Ben Lazreg, archaeologist and senior researcher at the National Heritage Institute of Tunisia, will deliver a free public lecture on “The Roman Mosaics of Tunisia” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 9, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101. Refreshments will be served.

Tunisia has one of the largest collections of Roman mosaics in the world, since it was once a prosperous Roman province. Its collection reflects a high degree of luxury along with a remarkable level of craftsmanship. The mosaics were in effect carpets, made of recycled stones and easily washable. Their subjects were not only decorative but also meant to bring good luck and ward off evil, and at the same time satisfy their patrons’ desire for ostentation. The lecture will discuss the construction, themes, styles, and social context of the mosaics.

Ben Lazreg received a master’s degree in ancient history and a doctorate in archaeology from the Faculty of Letters and Humane Sciences in Tunis. He is the curator of two museums in Tunisia as well as several archaeological sites. His specialty is Tunisia’s Roman and early Christian mosaics, though he has studied many other types of remains in the course of his archaeological surveys and excavations, and he has published extensively on the ancient sites and artifacts of Tunisia. His discoveries include many mosaics as well as a Christian chapel, catacombs, and baptistery. He has also made a lecture tour of the United States under the sponsorship of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Ben Lazreg is teaching a short course this spring under the sponsorship of Grinnell College’s Center for International Studies along with the Department of Classics.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations.

Homeric Folk Psychology

Ruth Scodel, the D. R. Shackleton Bailey Collegiate Professor of Greek and Latin in the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Michigan, will deliver the ninth annual McKibben Lecture in Classical Studies at 4:15 p.m. Friday, April 25, in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Her talk is entitled “Homeric Folk Psychology.” The free lecture is open to the public, and a reception will follow.

Traditionally, scholars have studied the Greek poet Homer's understanding of the mind by examining his vocabulary for mental activity. Scodel’s talk explores a different approach — looking at how Homeric characters imagine what other characters think and feel. Homeric characters often talk about what other characters are thinking or will think, and they also try to influence and manipulate others in ways that reveal what they think that others think.

About Ruth Scodel

Ruth ScodelScodel received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Ph.D. from Harvard University. She taught at Harvard University as an assistant and associate professor before she accepted an appointment at the University of Michigan in 1987, where she now holds an endowed chair in Classical Studies. In 2011 she was the Leventis Visiting Research Professor of Greek at the University of Edinburgh. Scodel was awarded a Humboldt Fellowship in 1993, and the Gildersleeve Prize in 1998. In addition, she has received numerous awards for her teaching and mentoring.

Scodel is an expert in Greek poetry, specializing in Homer and tragedy. She has written five books including Listening to Homer in 2002 and Epic Facework: Self-presentation and Social Interaction in Homer in 2008. She has published more than sixty articles and chapters and has lectured widely. She is a long time contributor of service to the American Philological Association, as president in 2007, and as editor of its journal, Transactions of the American Philological Association, among many other offices.

About the McKibben Lectures

The McKibben Lecture in Classical Studies is sponsored by the Department of Classics and honors Bill and Betty McKibben, whose combined service to Grinnell College and to the greater Grinnell community totaled more than a century.

Charles Platter “Killing Socrates” was Roberts Lecture

Charles Platter ’81, professor of classics at the University of Georgia, presented a Roberts Lecture “Killing Socrates” at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, in ARH Room 102. His talk was sponsored by the Department of Classics.

Platter discussed Plato’s Apology, in particular a passage in which Socrates refers to a comic play by Aristophanes, the Clouds, as an example of the kind of characterization of him that was indirectly responsible for the accusations that have brought him to court. Platter examined how seriously the comic poet’s assault on Socrates’ character was taken by Socrates himself and by the larger Athenian audience.

Platter holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of North Carolina.  He has taught at the University of Georgia since 1990, and has held visiting appointments at Jagiellonian University, Kraków, and the University of Lisbon. He is the author of a book, Aristophanes and the Carnival of Genres (Johns Hopkins University Press), and a commentary, Aristophanes’ Acharnians (Hackett Publishing), and has co-authored a commentary with Paul Allen Miller, Plato’s Apology of Socrates: A Commentary (University of Oklahoma Press). He has co-edited six books and has also published more than 15 articles and chapters.

Starting New with the Ancient Greek World


First-year students in Monessa Cummins’ tutorial, Humanities I: The Ancient Greek World, turn to ancient works that explore themes still relevant today, such as the fragility of human life, the basic impulses of human nature, and the question of what makes human life meaningful and worthwhile.

“The poetry, history, and philosophy of the ancient Greeks have had immense influence in shaping the cultural tradition of Western Europe,” says Cummins.

Their texts include:

  • Homer’s epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey
  • Three examples of tragic drama :Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, and Euripides’ Bacchants;
  • Aristotle's analysis of epic and tragedy in his Poetics
  • Thucydides’ The History of the Peloponnesian War; and
  • Plato’s Defense of Socrates, Crito, and Drinking-Party, which illustrate philosophical questioning, reflection, and dialogue.