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University of Mississippi

Archive for the ‘Classics in the news’ Category

New Course Brings a Deeper Look into War

Posted on: May 10th, 2021 by erabadie

Two professors join forces to co-teach class rooted in literature and veterans’ reintegration into society

Is war an aberration or an integral part of the human experience?

That question lies at the center of LIBA 305: Humanities and the Experience of War, a new class that debuted this spring at the University of Mississippi.

Molly Pasco-Pranger, professor and chair of the UM Department of Classics, and Andrew Newby, assistant director of veteran and military services, co-taught the course this spring.

“We wanted to examine the different problems that arise upon the homecoming and reintegration of soldiers into society, examining the perspectives of both soldiers and civilians,” Pasco-Pranger said.

Newby, a Marine veteran, and Pasco-Pranger began collaborating on a joint vision to unify student veterans and nonveterans on the Ole Miss campus. Their class is the first to put the imprimatur of the university’s Office of Veteran and Military Services on a course in the liberal arts curriculum.

The key texts for the course are nearly three millennia apart but similarly themed: Homer’s ancient Greek epic poem “The Odyssey” and a graphic novel, “The White Donkey,” by Maximilian Uriarte, an American artist and writer who served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

While “The Odyssey” tells the story of Greek hero Odysseus and his 10-year struggle to return to his home kingdom following the Trojan War, “The White Donkey” portrays the experience of a Marine in the Iraq War and the frustrations of returning home to civilian life.

“We are looking at the ever-changing, never-changing aspects of war and conflict,” Newby said. “To explore how a text from 700 B.C., when “The Odyssey” was written, describes the same things as when a veteran in 2020 is trying to come home but doesn’t come home all the way.”

Although COVID-19 curtailed the community outreach initially planned for the course, the class lived up to expectations, Pasco-Pranger said.

“Our students have been brave and generous in sharing their experiences and listening to one another and to the voices of authors ancient and contemporary,” she said. “We’ve had frank and powerful conversations about the ways war shapes and transforms human lives, both for veterans and for their families.

“My wish for this course is that it creates a relationship between the students, the community and the Office of Veteran and Military Services, so that these conversations around the experience of war can continue to take place.”

June 2020 faculty statement of commitment to antiracism

Posted on: June 9th, 2020 by mpranger
June 4 March in Oxford

Photo credit to Antonio Tarrell.

We, the faculty of the Department of Classics of the University of Mississippi, collectively and unanimously condemn the role of police brutality in perpetuating racial oppression, in particular the use of excessive force against black people on a continual basis and against those who protest this injustice. We affirm the importance of the freedom of our students and all other people to express grievances in public and work for their redress, and also the value of reasoned and civil debate at places such as the university and in the media. We hope through our teaching, scholarship, words, and actions, to oppose and change the modes of thinking that lead to and support racist violence, policies, and institutions.

We acknowledge the particular racist history of the state of Mississippi and the University of Mississippi, and our responsibility to work actively to build and open doors to a more just and equitable state and institution.

We acknowledge the particular ways that Classics has been used (and is still used by some) in building and bolstering ideologies of white supremacy, and our responsibility as teachers and scholars both to document and work against this part of our field’s legacy. We condemn all racism, ancient and modern, and pledge to employ our minds, hearts, and voices to expose and refute it.

The history and cultures of the ancient Mediterranean provide countless arenas to consider issues such as cultural diversity and pluralism, political and social crisis, socially sanctioned violence, freedom and slavery, justice and evil. We commit ourselves to using these opportunities to encourage vigorous discussion and analysis of how these issues played out historically and how they continue to play out today, and to work with our students to find new paths.

In accord with our professional organizations (Society for Classical Studies, Archaeological Institute of America, Classical Association of the Middle West and South, American Classical League), we also commit ourselves to encouraging robust, respectful dialogue and to providing a safe, supportive environment in which everyone, regardless of race, national origin, gender, religion, identity, is treated with dignity.


Inaugural Classics Capstone Conference: Andriantes: Sculptures in the Landscape, From Greek to Roman

Posted on: November 20th, 2019 by mpranger
Four student presenters and Professor Ajootian pose.

L. to r., Dawson Dinsmore, Sarah Lowery, Dr. Aileen Ajootian, Constance Hartline, Lucas Sewell.

On November 19, 2019, the four students in Dr. Aileen Ajootian’s inaugural Classics Capstone Seminar presented 10-15 minute talks on their research on Greek and Roman sculpture in the landscape. The Capstone Seminar is a new addition to the Classics curriculum, and we look forward to many more of these mini-conferences in years ahead!

The papers included:

Lucas Sewell, “The Temple of Zeus at Olympia, West Pediment: The Many Mysterious Meanings.”

Dawson Disnmore, “Seeking the Knidia.”

Sarah Lowery, “The Prima Porta Augustus: The Imperial Unknown.”

Constance Hartline, “The Sperlonga Statue Groups: Propaganda and Travel Through Mythology.”

Students and Faculty offer Aequora Latin Club at Oxford Intermediate

Posted on: May 2nd, 2019 by mpranger

Beginning in January 2018, a team of faculty and student volunteers from the Department of Classics have run a weekly after school Latin club for 5th and 6th graders at Oxford Intermediate School. The club uses a curriculum and program model called Aequora, developed by the Paideia Institute to support literacy skills while learning about Latin and Roman culture through fun activities and games. The undergraduate students involved get hands-on experience leading a class, working one-on-one with students, and participating in a team. More than thirty OIS students have been involved in the program so far, and three UM faculty members and nearly twenty UM students.

Sophomore Madeleine McCracken and "Caelia" work on a Latin sentence relay race.

Sophomore Madeleine McCracken and “Caelia” work on a Latin sentence relay race.

Madeleine McCracken leads "Vocab Victory".

Madeleine McCracken leads “Vocab Victory”.

Henry Busby, Dr. Aileen Ajootian, and Mary Reagan Starrett work with club member "Voconius".

Henry Busby, Dr. Aileen Ajootian, and Mary Reagan Starrett work with club member “Voconius”.

Dr. Molly Pasco-Pranger and UM senior Mary Grace Stewart work with OIS students.

Dr. Molly Pasco-Pranger and UM senior Mary Grace Stewart work with OIS students.

In Memoriam: Dr. Lucy Turnbull

Posted on: April 24th, 2019 by mpranger
Dr. Lucy Turnbull points to features of an male terra cotta bust while a black female student looks on.

Dr. Lucy Turnbull works with a student on an item from the Robinson Collection in 1971.

We received the sad news Sunday, April 21, 2019 of the death of our emerita colleague, Dr. Lucy Turnbull.

Dr. Turnbull joined the University of Mississippi faculty in 1961, teaching classical art history, archaeology, mythology, and civilization and also working to catalogue and curate the recently acquired David M. Robinson Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities. She was a dedicated teacher and an outstanding scholar of Greek art and archaeology, who served as campus leader during times of great challenges to the University. She was instrumental in the expansion of the University Museum in the 1970s, and directed the Museum for much of the 1980s.

After her retirement in the early 1990s, Dr. Turnbull remained active in the Oxford community and in her church, and continued as a true colleague to us in the Department of Classics. She will be deeply and sincerely missed.

We invite you to visit Dr. Turnbull’s obituary and a tribute page, or to read a short piece honoring her in the 2012 College of Liberal Arts publication, View From Ventress. Finally, below is a link to an essay by Lucy “On Museums” from another University publication in 1971; this last really captures her spirit as an educator and the best kind of classicist.

On Museums_University Letter 1971

Dr. Cook named University of Mississippi Humanities Teacher of the Year

Posted on: January 11th, 2019 by mpranger

Poster for public talk: Documenting Freedon in Ancient Greece and a Broze Inscription in Oxford, Mississippi. Monday Defburary 11, 2019 at 7:00 in Bryant 209. Reception preceding at 6:30 in the Bryant Hall Gallery.We are very proud to announce that the Mississippi Humanities Council has named Associate Professor of Classics Dr. Brad Cook the 2019 University of Mississippi Humanities Teacher of the Year. As part of the celebration of this well-deserved recognition, Dr. Cook will be presenting a public lecture on some of his current research on Monday, February 11, 2019 at 7:00 in Bryant 209. His talk, “Documenting Freedom in Ancient Greece and a Bronze Inscription in Oxford Mississippi,” stems from his work with a small portable inscription in the University Museum that records the manumission of a female slave.







Ave atque vale: Dr. Edward Capps III

Posted on: August 22nd, 2018 by mpranger

The Department of Classics is saddened to report that our emeritus colleague Dr. Edward Capps III passed away in Oxford, MS on August 15, 2018.

Dr. Capps was born in 1935 in Oberlin, Ohio where his father was a Professor of Classical Art at Oberlin College; his grandfather was a Professor of Classics at Princeton. Educated at Swarthmore College and Yale, Dr. Capps joined our department in 1964 and taught ancient languages, literature, mythology and civilization courses for many years to many thousands of University of Mississippi students. From 1969 to 1972 he served as Vice-President for Mississippi in the Classical Associate of the Middle West and South. Dr. Capps retired in 2002 and was named Professor Emeritus, but continued to teach freshman liberal arts seminars for some years after that.

Donations and memorials in honor of Dr. Edward Capps III, may be made to the Mississippi Public Broadcasting Foundation (

Dr. Jacqueline DiBiasie Sammons and UM undergrads in Herculaneum

Posted on: August 6th, 2018 by mpranger

Assistant professor of Classics Dr. Jacqueline DiBiasie Sammons and three UM undergrads, Arianna Kitchens, Madeleine McCracken, and Mweyeria Offord spent part of Summer 2018 hard at work locating and digitally documenting graffiti in the ancient city of Herculaneum. Dr. DiBiasie Sammons is the field director for the Ancient Graffiti Project and will be taking more students to continue the project’s work in Pompeii in Summer 2019. The Mike and Mary McDonnell Endowment for the Study of Classics helped fund all three students’ work on the project.

Read more about Dr. BiBiasie Sammons and the Ancient Graffiti Project here.

Professor and three students in University of Mississippi t-shirts pose in front of ancient Herculaneum.

L to r: Dr. DiBiasie Sammons, Madeleine McCracken, Arianna Kitchens, Mweyeria Offord.

Three students: Arianna shines a flashlight on an ancient plastered wall as Mweyeria observes; Madeleine approaches with notebooks to record.

The students at work in a Roman house in Herculaneum.

Dr. Molly Pasco-Pranger wins teaching award.

Posted on: August 5th, 2018 by mpranger
Close up of Dr. Pasco-Pranger.

Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Associate Professor and Chair of Classics Dr. Molly Pasco-Pranger was awarded the College of Liberal Arts’ 2018 Cora Lee Graham Award for Outstanding Teaching of Freshmen. The award was announced in May 2018. Read more here.

Dr. Brad Cook awarded NEH Fellowship in Athens

Posted on: January 25th, 2018 by mpranger

Dr. Brad Cook






Associate Professor of Classics Dr. Brad Cook will spend February-June 2018 at the American School for Classical Studies in Athens, having been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in support of his work on two inscriptions in the University of Mississippi Museum’s Robinson collection. For more here on the project and the fellowship.