End of Term Wrap-Up

It’s that time of the year again when students are home resting from the end of semester whirlwind and professors are scrambling to get some research done and prepare syllabi and materials for next semester. I thought it would be good to do a little end of term note.

Let’s begin with something somewhat sad–after 40 years, Dr. Z retired from GWU last spring but decided to stay on in a part time capacity this year (he had a hard time letting go). Well, his time here is now officially ending as Z heads off on a new set of adventures including continuing his study of the double bass and learning Spanish. He will be missed by everyone here.

In other news, the terms seems to have come off successfully.

  • Enrollments in Arabic, Hebrew, Greek and Latin continue to rise and our literature and history classes are as over-enrolled as ever. Thanks to all of you who keep coming back semester after semester!
  • We welcomed 7 new Classics majors and a handful of minors into the fold. The new Semitics minor (Hebrew and Arabic language and culture) has been catching on and soon we may be able to offer a Semitics Languages major as well–it would be possibly the first in the country of its kind.
  • The Classics and Archaeology club sponsored 2 movie viewings and a guest lecture on Greek sculpture. Thanks to all of you who came!
  • We held the first ever Classics major fair this semester. Thanks again to those of you who came and enjoyed pizza and conversation.
  • We attempted to use the university’s new wait-list system for spring registration. To all of you who tried to play along, thanks. Wasn’t that fun?
  • We began our search for a new faculty member specializing in Classical Archaeology and languages. With any luck, we’ll be able to start offering courses in Greek and Roman archaeology next year.
  • We welcomed 2 new permanent Arabic language specialists (Jennifer Tobkin and Nashwa Taher), a new permanent Hebrew language specialist (Shoshana Marcus) and are searching now for another permanent Arabic specialist.

Looking forward to next term:

  • More Classics Club events: We plan on showing more movies next term (Life of Brian, Indiana Jones, maybe History of the World) and we are planning a museum trip to the Sackler to see their exhibits on Alexander and on painted sculpture from ancient Greece (only around until Jan. 20th).
  • A number of our majors will be studying abroad next term in Greece, Scotland and England. Lucky students.
  • The year end party will be coming in May and prizes for the top Greek and Latin students will be awarded. You know you all want your own copy of the Life of George Washington in Latin!
  • Dr. Cline will be offering History of Egypt and the Near East for the first time in 3 years. Due to demand, the class size was doubled from 60 to 120. Maybe we should try to offer it more often?
  • Thanks to our search for a new classical archaeologist, the department will be sponsoring a series of lectures next semester. We look forward to seeing many of our students there!
  • Last, but not least, a shameless plea: Due to Dr. Z’s departure and Dr. Fisher’s continued sabbatical, Professors Lupu and Kennedy will be working especially hard next term covering all language sections among other classes. Please be gentle with them.

There are a lot of exciting things happening here in the department and we want to thank our majors, minors and other interested students for continuing to support the study of Classics, Arabic and Hebrew. We the faculty are working hard to make sure that our classes continue to be interesting and challenging.

Hope you all enjoy your time off. See you In January!

Wrapping up the Post-Bacc

How is a post-bacc different (or similar) from undergraduate and graduate studies?

Although my long absence is admittedly due in part to the pre-Turkey Day workload and the post-Turkey Day coma, it is also due to the fact that this is actually the hardest question to answer. In fact, one of the disadvantages of a post-bacc program is its rather ambiguous position, being neither an undergraduate program nor a graduate program. Whenever I tell someone what I am doing this year, I have trouble getting it across to them that this is not just a 5th year of undergrad, and that I will also not have a Master’s at the end of it.

At the most basic level, since this is a certificate program, at the end of it you theoretically get another piece of paper that, in the words of a good friend of mine, “says you know stuff.” The program is also now on your transcripts, and this proves to graduate schools that you are serious about your education, since you have already postponed your life one year in pursuit of your goal.

A post-bacc can also offer a student extra opportunities that are not necessarily available to undergraduates. As mentioned in a previous post, a post-bacc student may be able to take classes with graduates, often pass/fail. In this way a student can experience the workload and pace of a graduate-level class without all of the pressure, making the post-bacc sort of like a baby-step into grad school. A student may also get the opportunity to be a grader.

I guess that’s the last of the post-bacc series. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask away! Meanwhile, good luck on all your end of the semester activities and I promise to devote some of the holiday break, when I’m not filling out grad school applications, to thinking about what I will be posting next.

Happy Holidays!

Who Does a Post-Bacc, Anyway?

More info you are dying to know (or at least you would be, if you knew what was good for you) about life after a Classics and Archaeology major:

What sort of a person does a post-bacc? Is a post-bacc only for someone who isn’t good enough to get into grad school?

There can be quite a variety of people who will complete a post-bacc program:
• Some of them are like me and decided late to concentrate on classics and consequently don’t have enough of either Greek or Latin (or both) to get into the grad schools they want to get into.
• Other post-bacc students are those who only applied to top-tier schools, focusing more on the reputation of the school rather than whether or not they would be a good fit at that school.
• Still others may have made poor decisions during their first round of applications for grad school. For example, one person in my program insisted on applying to schools like Michigan, even though she didn’t have experience in any modern language, which is sometimes a requirement for admission. Another student applied to schools for Linguistics, but had an Art History writing sample.
• Finally, the last group of people who are in a post-bacc (or, I should say, are in *my* post-bacc) are those that took a few years off after college before returning to school, during which time they forgot much of whatever Greek and Latin they had learned.

As you can see, you can have a rather diverse group of people in a post-bacc. Additionally, you may also find a diversity of research interests. At UCLA, for example, they specifically try to admit people with a variety of interests. Right now we have people interested in archaeology, history, and linguistics, with time periods ranging from Etruscan to Medieval.

Coming up next time:
How is it different (or similar) from undergraduate and graduate studies?

Meanwhile, I shall enjoy having Veteran’s day off for the first time in four years. Vale!

Movie Viewing Night–300 [TOMORROW]

Odds are, you’ve seen the ‘300’ about five times now (give or take). Doesn’t matter–come watch it again. “THIS IS SPARTA” will never, EVER, get old.

We’ll be having our monthly movie night this Thursday, November 8 at 8:00 pm in Corcoran 111. We’ll have something light–chips and popcorn–or you can bring your own food (though I’ll forever disavow any knowledge of it to Academic Scheduling).

Hope to see everyone Thursday!

The Post-Bacc

Since I know that you have all been breathlessly waiting for the answers to the questions asked in my last post, here goes:

What is a post-bacc in Classics? Why would a person complete a post-bacc instead of just going to a community college, or doing an independent study of the languages?

A post-bacc in Classics is a program designed specifically for the improvement of a person’s knowledge of Greek and Latin. It is usually a yearlong program in which the student is required to take at least one Greek and one Latin course per semester (or quarter). The student may also be able to take other related courses.

At the post-bacc I’m attending, during the first quarter we also have a seminar which is designed to help us with applying to graduate school and to introduce us to some of the different fields of study open to people pursuing Classics. We also have opportunities to hear different lectures and we are allowed to take graduate courses, if we wish. This aspect of the post-bacc is particularly beneficial, because a student gets to experience a graduate class without actually being in grad school. It is because of opportunities such as these that a person will be better off if they complete a post-bacc, rather than studying the languages elsewhere.

What schools offer a post-bacc in Classics?

The University of Pennsylvania and UCLA are the two main schools that offer a post-bacc in classics. The programs at these schools have been around for a while, but other schools have decided that a post-bacc is the cool thing to do, and have begun to offer it as well. One significant difference between the two programs at UCLA and Penn is that Penn holds seminars in the languages specifically for the post-baccs, whereas at UCLA, the students take classes along with the regularly matriculated students (i.e. undergraduates or graduates). In fact, half the people in the second year Greek course that I’m taking are post-baccs! This aspect of UCLA’s program allows them to accept students with a wider range of preparation in the languages.

And that leads us nicely into the questions for next time:

What sort of a person does a post-bacc? Is a post-bacc only for someone who isn’t good enough to get into grad school?
How is it different (or similar) from undergraduate and graduate studies?

Until then,
Have a great week!

Life After a Classics/Archaeology BA

Promised in the “About Us” section of this blog is an attempt to keep you, dear reader, informed about what “our former and current students are up to.” In order to help our dearly beloved authors keep their promises, I shall subject you little tidbits about what I, as a recent recipient of a BA in Archaeology and Classical Humanities, am doing now.

Having decided a little late in my undergraduate career that what I really wanted to do was study classics, I graduated with only one year of Greek under my belt. Thus, with decreased hope of getting into a good classics MA/PhD program, I decided to do a post-baccalaureate program in Classics this year. Consequently, until I come up with something more interesting to say, I will spend a few posts answering general questions about what a post-bacc in classics is, why it is, etc. drawing on my own experience, of course (suggestions welcome!).

Coming soon:
What is a post-bacc in Classics?
What schools offer a post-bacc in Classics?

Until next time – Vale!

Are You a Classics Major?

If so, come to the Classics (and Archaeology) Major Lunch and Advising Fair on Monday November 5th from 11am-12:30pm and have some pizza and get your registration hold lifted! If you are new to the department, now is the time to meet other majors or minors and faculty.  Learn as well about our new Semitics Minor (Hebrew and Arabic)–perfect for those of you headed of to do Near Eastern Archaeology!


Prof. Cline will be  there to sign your registration forms.

Upcoming Lecture in the Department

Catherine Keesling (Associate Professor and Chair at Georgetown University) will talk on “Greek Portrait Statues: Who, When, and Why” on Thursday, November 1 (see below for more information):

The study of ancient Greek portraiture has been treated as a question of origins since the Roman author Pliny the Elder, who was concerned to show that the characteristics of portraiture most familiar to his contemporary Roman audience in fact had an ancient and distinguished Greek pedigree.  Modern scholarship, hampered by the lack of preserved Greek originals and relying heavily upon Roman marble “copies” of lost Greek portraits, has often taken a similar tack. The result is that most modern studies of Greek portraiture concentrate on the fifth century B.C., a period in which portraits were seldom identified as such by their accompanying inscriptions.

Herodotus, writing in the 420s B.C., mentions more than 60 sanctuary dedications in his Histories, but only a handful of portraits; only a few of the public monuments commemorating the Greek victories in the Persian Wars of 490 and 480-479 B.C. included portrait statues.  The epigraphical evidence of inscribed statue bases strongly suggests that a real explosion in the practice of portraiture in both the public and private spheres in the Greek world took place in the fourth century B.C.  The epigraphical evidence also sheds new and surprising light upon the complex histories of Greek portrait statues.  In addition to being copied by Roman sculptors, Greek portraits were also literally recycled as portraits of Roman subjects.  Retrospective honorific portraits of the fourth century and later—that is, posthumous portraits of subjects long deceased—have also obscured the history of Greek portraiture, making it more difficult to see that Greek “portrait culture” is largely a phenomenon of the fourth century and later.




A Blog of Interest for Classics and Archaeology Students

Bill Caraher (Assistant Professor of History @ University of North Dakota), with whom I went to graduate school, is now the co-director of the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project in Cyprus and participates in the continued archaeological research associated with the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey and the Ohio State Excavations at Isthmia. He has a blog where he posts up photos and discussions of his work. He also has guest appearances by another former grad school pal, David Pettigrew (Assistant Professor of History @ Messiah College), who is associated with The Ohio State University Excavations at Isthmia, the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey, and the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project and who has also participated in the American School Excavations at Corinth and the Australian-Paliochora Kythera Survey.

For those of you interested in Mediterranean archaeology, their blog should be of great interest: Bill Caraher’s Archaeology of the Mediterranean

Lecture on the New Acropolis Museum!

Acropolis Museum

Tomorrow the Greek Embassy cultural center will be hosting a lecture on the new Parthenon Museum in Athens!

The lecture will be held in the lower level of the Embassy at 2217 Massachusetts Avenue (at Sheridan Circle). The lecture begins at 7 pm and should last until about 9 pm. No reservations are required.