The McKibben Lecture

The McKibben Lecture in Classical Studies was established in 2006 to honor Bill and Betty McKibben who fulfilled a combined century of service to Grinnell College and the wider Grinnell community, spending the greater part of that time as inspiring and beloved teachers, and the whole of it as esteemed colleagues, friends and active members of the intellectual and cultural life of Grinnell. The lectureship is intended to carry on the values that the McKibbens embodied by presenting on campus each year recognized scholars to give public lectures and seminars in Classical Studies.

Bill and Betty McKibben

The McKibbens joined Grinnell College in 1952 and were at the time among the rare examples of shared faculty appointments. Between them they taught all levels and areas of Latin and Greek language, literature, and culture. Those who took their courses still swap tales of Betty’s “baby Latin” and Bill’s memorable dicta on every subject imaginable. Whether the topic was the sequence of tenses in subordinate clauses or the social significance of Aristophanes’ jokes, fundamentally the McKibbens taught students what it means to be alive and fully human—not just by precept but also by example. When the McKibbens retired to emeritus status in 1987 they continued to open their home for weekly Greek and Latin sight-reading sessions, when students and faculty sat around the fireplace, enjoyed refreshments, and read unusual works in the ancient languages. The tradition of Reading Group, now in its sixth decade, continues to instill devotees of Greek and Latin with a camaraderie that will remain a treasured souvenir of Grinnell academic life.

The McKibben Lecture was endowed by the generous contributions of friends, colleagues, and former students of the McKibbens, and by the McKibbens' own generous bequest of their home, now a residence for distinguished visiting scholars.

The Lecturers

  1. James Arieti (Hampden-Sydney College)
    “Ἀχιλῆος αἵρεσις [Akhilē̂os haíresis]. Achilles’ Choice”
    March 14, 2006
  2. Josiah Osgood (Georgetown University)
    “The Pen and the Sword: Writing and Conquest in Caesar’s Gaul”
    April 10, 2007
  3. Susan Ashbrook Harvey (Brown University)
    “Housework in the Classical Tradition”
    April 14, 2008
  4. Christopher Parslow (Wesleyan University [Middletown, CT])
    “Love and Life in the Praedia of Julia Felix in Pompeii”
    April 23, 2009
  5. Gerald V. Lalonde (Grinnell College)
    “Thucydides on Human Nature and Violence: Realist or Pessimist?”
    April 29, 2010
  6. Brian Rose (University of Pennsylvania)
    “Assessing the Archaeological Evidence for the Trojan War: Recent Excavations at Troy”
    April 21, 2011
  7. Erich Gruen (University of California, Berkeley)
    “Identity Theft in the Ancient Mediterranean”
    April 19, 2012
  8. John Oakley (College of William and Mary)
    “Athenian White Lekythoi: Masterpieces of Greek Funerary Art”
    April 27, 2013
  9. Ruth Scodel (University of Michigan)
    “Homeric Folk Psychology”
    April 25, 2014
  10. Andrew Stewart (University of California, Berkeley)
    Inventing the Female Nude: Praxiteles, Phryne, and the Knidia
    April 23, 2015
  11. Jeffrey Hurwit (University of Oregon)
    Helios Rising: The Sun, the Moon, and the Sea in the Sculptures of the Parthenon
    April 21, 2016
  12. Kathleen Coleman (Harvard University)
    Laid Out for Posterity: A Roman Tombstone Carved with a Child’s Portrait and His Poem
    May 4, 2017
  13. Jeffrey Henderson (Boston University)
    “Lysistrata Through the Ages: Receptions of An Iconic Heroine”
    April 19, 2018
  14. Sheila Dillon (Duke University)
    Crossing the Corrupting Sea: Women on the move in the ancient Mediterranean
    April 25, 2019

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