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The University of Mississippi

Archive for the ‘Classics in the news’ Category

Dr. John Lobur publishes new book on Cornelius Nepos

Posted on: November 12th, 2021 by amyevans

The Department is pleased to announce the publication of Professor John Lobur’s second book, a University of Michigan Press monograph on Cornelius Nepos. From University of Michigan Press:
Roman author Cornelius Nepos wrote at a very dynamic time in Roman history, but oddly enough little has been said about what his surviving work as a whole can tell us about that period. In the scholarship of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the author was much maligned as inaccurate, simple-minded, and derivative, and thus it has been hard to make the case that the evidence he provides is important or even useful. John Lobur’s work rehabilitates Nepos to show that in fact he should be understood as an emblematic member of the Italian intelligentsia, one well-positioned to write narratives of great potency with respect to the ideological tenor of emerging Roman imperial culture.Book cover of Lobur, Cornellius Nepos: A Study in the Evidence and Influence: A

Cornelius Nepos: A Study in the Evidence and Influence begins by exploring the writer’s ancient reception, which suggests he was in no way seen as beneath consideration by the Romans themselves. The volume then deconstructs the critical framework that cast him as an “inferior” author in the classical canon. What emerges is an author who reworked Greek historical narratives in a learned, sophisticated way, yet one still limited by the compositional logistics and limitations inherent in ancient scholarship. The study then explores his contemporary relationships and embeds his work among the crucial ideological activity at play in the late Republic and Triumviral periods. Cornelius Nepos spends considerable time on the fragmentary evidence (which highlights Nepos’ interest in changes in fashion and consumption) to suggest that he was a valued cultural elder who informed a public eager to recover a sense of tradition during a period of bewilderingly fast social and cultural change. The book finishes with a thematic examination of the entire Lives of the Foreign Commanders (a set of biographies on ancient non-Roman generals) to show that despite the expression of very “Republican” sentiments, he was in fact fashioning an ideological framework for something imperial and quasi-monarchic which, though autocratic, was still antityrannical and imagined as resting on a broad and “democratic” foundation of social consent. Nepos saw that Rome would soon be ruled by one person, and his biographies show how the elites of the day both processed that reality and attempted to circumscribe it for good ends through the creation of new models of legitimacy.

Dr. Kristina Killgrove on bioarchaeology at the villa at Oplontis.

Posted on: November 12th, 2021 by amyevans

Kilgrove flier

Dr. Kristina Killgrove delivered a fascinating virtual lecture entitled “Death Comes to Oplontis: Victims of Mt. Vesuvius Reveal Life in 79 A.D.” The talk offered a rich supplement to current students in Dr. Jacqueline DiBiasie-Sammons’ Fall 2021 course, Art and Archaeology in Pompeii and Herculaneum, but was accessible to more general audience as well and had more that sixty attendees.

New Course Brings a Deeper Look into War

Posted on: May 10th, 2021 by amyevans

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.”

DiBiasie-Sammons receives College of Liberal Arts New Scholar Award in Humanities

Posted on: May 10th, 2021 by amyevans

Professional photo of Dr. DiBiasie-Sammons

The Department of Classics is proud to announce that Assistant Professor Jacqueline DiBiasie-Sammons has been chosen by the College of Liberal Arts as the 2021 recipient of the Dr. Mike L. Edmonds New Scholar Award in Humanities. This award recognizes faculty who are within six years of their first tenure-track appointment and have demonstrated exemplary performance in research, scholarship, and/or creative achievement; recipients have significantly enhanced the scholarly reputation of the College and University through exceptional contributions to their disciplines and demonstrated a positive impact on the success of their department.

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

Summer 2018 students at work in a Roman house in Herculaneum.

Dr. DiBiasie-Sammons has just completed her fourth year as an assistant professor, and has quickly become a research leader in the Department of Classics, working in the exciting area of ancient graffiti. She is the field director and technology supervisor of the Ancient Graffiti Project (AGP), which has undertaken to document and digitize all of the ancient graffiti from Pompeii and Herculaneum, and to produce new critical editions of the graffiti in a publicly accessible online database ( Graffiti, produced as they were by people of all social classes, genders, occupation, and ages, have enormous potential to open new windows into Roman culture. Dr. DiBiasie-Sammons and her colleagues are building a robust and user-friendly online database, that allows open access to these “windows” to scholars all over the world. To date seven UM undergraduates have participated in the AGP’s fieldwork.

The graffiti-centered fieldwork is also the starting point for much of Dr. DiBiasie-Sammons’ more traditional article-based scholarship: among her eight published journal articles and book chapters are cultural analyses based on the distribution and typology of inscriptions, methodological articles, and revisions and reinterpretations of known inscriptions based both on new technological approaches and on archival work. Her most recent work focuses on the particular category of charcoal graffiti, scribblings in a material so delicate that they are quickly destroyed when exposed to the elements. For this project, Dr. DiBiasie-Sammons has received research support for archival work from the Getty Research Institute to access the field notebooks of the original excavators in the Getty’s collections.

In October 2019, Dr. DiBiasie-Sammons and Dr. Holly Sypniewski of Millsaps College co-chaired the Symposium Campanum at the Villa Vergiliana in Cuma, Italy, hosting a slate of more than twenty scholars from ten countries, presenting research on inscriptions of the Bay of Naples region. The symposium was a grand success, and Dr. DiBiasie-Sammons leadership of the group clearly signals the strong position she is mapping out in the world of ancient epigraphy.

Though still only six years out from her 2015 University of Texas-Austin PhD, Dr. DiBiasie-Sammons is making her scholarly mark on a variety of fronts, and on a truly international stage. Her accomplishments are already impressive, and she has a strong, innovative, and multi-faceted research program that promises to flourish for many years to come. Congratulations to Dr. DiBiasie-Sammons!

June 2020 faculty statement of commitment to antiracism

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

Photo by 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 amyevans

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 amyevans

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 amyevans

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 amyevans

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 amyevans

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 (