Year in Review

At the end of each school year, our faculty and graduate students look back to reflect on highlights — professional and personal — that occurred. We also invite our alumni to share with us and their classmates any news happening in their lives and careers. We compile this information in the following e-newsletter and associated web pages. If you would like to be on our email distribution list, please contact Matthew Meyer.


Message from Chair William Johnson

William Johnson

The venerable Classical Studies Newsletter Phêmê continues with its new, digital-era look. Follow the links below to explore the news about your old department and its virtual family, or, better, follow us on Facebook or Twitter (we promise posts that are low in traffic and valuable in content), or check out our News and Events section, all magnificently curated by Matthew Meyer.

On our web pages you will, for example, learn that the fun image at the right is from the Fair that has now become an annual feature of Kyle Jazwa’s Ancient Science and Technology Course. There, the students displayed more than two dozen reconstructions of Greek, Roman, Egyptian, ancient Korean, and Native American technologies, including catapults, medical tools, a shaduf, and Egyptian make-ups and perfumes.

Students in class

For interesting reflections on the field of Classical Studies in general, with a focus on our department, read the article “Classical Studies Shows its Staying Power” (and see the crazy graphic) in the Spring 2019 issue of Duke Magazine.

In short, we’ve had another intoxicating year, full of activity and distinction among faculty and students alike, present and past. Read on to see what I mean!

Alumni and Friends

Stewart book jacket

Check out our Alumni page to see what a talented bunch our BAs are (and look to the Duke Alumni pages for others who post there). Each and every year we find ourselves working with amazing undergraduates, and we are deeply proud of their many post-graduate accomplishments, from medical and law careers to diplomatic posts. Keep in touch!


Here a quick shout-out to two of our BAs. Gabi Stewart (Class. Lang. ’18, currently a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford) had her senior thesis published in the inaugural issue of Duke’s undergraduate journal, Visible Thinking, (above, right) and that same thesis won the Rubenstein’s Chester P. Middlesworth Award for research excellence. Congratulations, Gabi! Meanwhile, Julie Hruby, Class. Lang. and Civ. ’96, now a professor at Dartmouth, (at left) has been awarded a grant to accumulate 3D data on ancient fingerprints found on the fired clay surfaces of Greek vases (yes! check it out!).

Student and teacher

Among our doctors from earlier years two (!) won top national awards: Gil Renberg PhD ’03 won the SCS Goodwin Award for Excellence in Research, and Mike Lippman PhD ’04 won the SCS award for Excellence in Teaching. Wow! We also can’t let pass without hearty congratulations tenure promotions for Alex Loney (PhD ’12, at Wheaton College) and Alex Meyer (PhD ’10, at Western Ontario), and the MSLS degree conferred on Mack Zalin (PhD ’16, MS ‘19). Finally, as you see in the picture here, James Francis (PhD ’91) donated a Latin funerary inscription to add to our teaching collection of ancient artifacts at the Nasher. Thank you J!

Read more Alumni News

Faculty and Staff Highlights


Emeritus Professor Francis Newton received an honorary degree in “Lettere" from the Università di Cassino e del Lazio meridionale, in recognition of his distinguished contributions as a scholar of Southern Italian Benedictine culture and Beneventan manuscripts.


Professor Mary Taliaferro (“Tolly”) Boatwright in January took up her post as President of the national learned society for classicists, the Society for Classical Studies (formerly the American Philological Association).


Associate Professor Jed W. Atkins was appointed to the Bass Society of Fellows and will hold the E. Blake Byrne chair in recognition of his excellence in undergraduate teaching and research; he also garnered two fellowships from Princeton University, one of which he has accepted to support a well-earned sabbatical leave.


Associate Professor Alicia Jiménez won two significant external grants to support her use of LiDAR and other technologies to create an orthographic map and 3D digital reconstructions of five overlapping Republican-era Roman camps at her excavation near Renieblas, Spain.


Research Professor N. Gregson Davis delivered a talk in St. Lucia as part of the celebration of that island’s annual Nobel Laureate Week. His topic was Derek Walcott (one of two Nobel laureates native to the island), whose poetry has long been a focus of his research.

We continue to show off our excellent teaching too. This year, four (!) Classical Studies instructors (Kyle Jawza, Rex Crews, Claire Catenaccio, and graduate instructor Clinton Kinkade) received decanal commendations for evaluations ranked among the top 5% of all undergraduate instructors in Trinity College (in the categories Quality of Course, Quality of Instruction, and Intellectual Stimulation).

Read the Annual Roundup of Faculty News & Reflections

Undergraduate Activities and Recognition


Saumya Sao, with the help of graduate students, faculty, and her fellow undergraduates in the Classics Collegium, once again brought the Junior Classical League Certamen to Duke, which attracted high school Latin students from states near and far to showcase their knowledge of the Latin language and of classical mythology and history.

Research travel awards making strategic use of the Quigley and Teasley Funds went to Evangeline Marecki, to work with Sheila Dillon on the Digital Athens Project (Athens, Greece); Anna Gotskind, to support her work with Maurizio Forte at the Duke Etruscan excavations at Vulci (Viterbo, Italy); and Cordelia Hogan and Katherine Owensby, to work on speaking (!) ancient Greek at the Paideia Institute’s Living Greek in Greece program (Selianitika, Peloponnese). We also used the fund named in honor of Francis Newton to support Gretchen Wright’s senior thesis research on illustrated editions of Suetonius’ De Vita Caesarum. (See reports from last summer’s researchers.)

Students in NY

Undergraduates were out and about the United States too. Students in Claire Catenaccio’s upper-level Greek classes traveled to New York to see a performance of Euripides’ Heracles in the original Greek, while students in the Visions of Freedom FOCUS cluster accompanied Jed Atkins to Washington DC.

students in togas

And Christian Burke presented a research paper at the University of Tennessee.

Kyle Jazwa organized our first Olympic Games event for his Ancient Athletics class, including (bloodless) sacrifices, musicians, and a Hoplitodromos competition among much else, with support from the David L. Paletz Innovative Teaching Fund.

Graduate Activities and Recognition


Two new doctors were added to the family: Melissa Huber (Dissertation: Monumentalizing Infrastructure: Claudius and the City and People of Rome), who is joining the professoriate of the History Department at Providence College; and David Stifler (Lucian and the Atticists: A Barbarian at the Gates), who is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Classics Department at the University of Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, Courtney Monahan joins Durham Academy as their new Upper School Latin teacher even as she finishes her degree with support from a Stern Fellowship


Sinja Küppers was elected president of Duke F1RSTS, a group of first-generation graduate students with now more than 200 members, and has a German leadership grant to host a conference for first-gen students in Hannover, Germany this summer.

Fully half (!) of our graduate students presented their research in papers at conferences or workshops, including three at SCS and two at CAMWS; one (Tom Cole) published his first scholarly article; and five have papers accepted for the SCS national convention next January.

Read more Graduate Student News

students in robes

Class of 2019

Congratulations! to the Class of 2019, with majors in Classical Civilization and Classical Languages and minors in Classical Civilization and Latin, as well as our two MAs and two PhDs.

See the Commencement Program for more details

Gratias agimus

We are immensely grateful to friends and supporters who designate their Duke gifts to help the Department. Even as they help us accomplish our goals of furthering the love and understanding of Classical Studies, they remind us that our department continues to have an impact on those we have taught and met. We use these individual gifts primarily to support student research and course enhancement.

We also want to recognize the several endowments that are vital to the health of the department. Some were set up long ago, while others are fresh contributions, but all are vital to our mission:

  • The Warren Gates Endowment
  • The Anita Dresser Jurgens Endowment
  • The Francis Lanneau Newton Endowment
  • The Leonard and Lynn Quigley Fund
  • The Teasley Family Classical Antiquities Endowment
  • The Teasley-Carroll-Trope Family Faculty Support Endowment



And our needs? Our present, urgent need is to locate continuing and sustainable support for archaeological excavation. The Department now hosts two active excavations, one Roman, the other Etrusco-Roman, in Spain and in Italy. We have some support for student travel and activities abroad, but we have little support for the excavations themselves. Shovels and tents cost money! Not to mention the drones now used for landscape archaeology. If you are interested in learning more about how you can support the department, please contact Chris Clarke at