Thursday, May 24, 2012

Welcome to Summer, Welcome to a New Season

Now that winter classes have ended, many Classics undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty are engaged in the second season, or research time. The concept of summer vacation has become a distant memory for many of us, as summer is now an integral part of academic life and is used to advance research, complete projects, or start a new investigation. The break from the regular rhythm of classrooms and lectures allows everyone a moment to focus on their own projects and to further develop our own contributions to the field and to the mass of information that gets disseminated in those classrooms. If academics were a sport, research season would be offence: the power play, passing from the line of scrimmage or getting multiple at-bats: it is the moment to move forward toward large goals. At its best, this time is an invigorating series of moments in which swarms of new ideas are developed, tested, refined, tested again and eventually presented to the academic community and the greater public. The reality, however, is that the research process conforms to Thomas Edison’s maxim suggesting that successful endeavors are more perspiration than inspiration.

Research will bring many of us to the field for archaeological excavations; Prof. Martin Beckmann is leading a group of student including Mr. Owen Phillips (Classics `13), Ms. Emily LeMond (Classics `13) and Mr. Jason Binder (MA `14) on a McMaster excavation at Teos in Turkey; Ms. Naomi Neufeld (Classics `13, Humanities USRA recipient for 2012 and the E.T. Salmon Travel Fellow) is excavating at Cerveteri in Italy and travelling in Italy (; Mr. John Fabiano (MA `13) and Ms. Barbara Scarfo (Ph. D. candidate) will spend time in Rome doing both first-hand research in the Eternal City and profiting from the world-class libraries there to advance their research. Mr. Jonathan Reeves will travel within Greece and spend time in Athens at both the American School of Classical Studies in Athens ( and the Canadian Institute in Greece ( including attending The CIG’s “Meditations on the Diversity of the Built Environment in the Aegean Basin: A Colloquium in Memory of Frederick E. Winter” ( Mr. Jonathon McCallum (MA `14) will also have an extended stay in Athens as a participant in the Summer Semester of College Year in Athens. Classics faculty are spending time in Rome, Athens, Copenhagen, London, Oxford, Brussels, Bologna, and Freiburg both in the library and participating in conferences.
Regardless of specific plans, the summer is the perfect time to get ahead in your work or satisfy your own intellectual curiosity. Perhaps it is the moment to re-read Homer, to dig into a book on Greek history, to read a recent article from a scholarly journal, or to simply wander through the shelves at Mills (or your nearest library) and open up a book on a topic that has interested you. Or maybe it is the right time to build on a term paper that ignited your imagination or revisit material from lecture that you want to learn more about. Whatever your interest is, this is a good time to explore ideas and expand your understanding of the ancient world; without the pressure the semester, it is a ripe opportunity to pursue your interests. Even a small investment now, with deadlines and term papers and final exams far in the distance, will pay off greatly in the fall. Enjoy the summer; enjoy the second season of academia.