Graduate Student News (2019-20)

Melissa Baroff

"This year, I have had the opportunity to focus more on my research interests—gender and sexuality in Ancient Rome and the women of the early Roman Empire. I have also gotten to branch out a bit and will be presenting a paper at the SCS on Gender and Visuality in the Agamemnon."

Erickson Bridges

Erickson Bridges during a summer trip to countryside Umbria in Italy.

"This past year has been quite an interesting time! Specifically, I hit two milestones in my academic career last fall: I defended my dissertation prospectus arguing for a retrospective reading of Lucretius, and I began teaching Latin 101, which marked my first time inside a classroom as an instructor instead of a student. I particularly enjoyed the unique challenges of teaching an introductory language course and am very much looking forward to returning to the classroom this coming semester to teach Latin 101 again, albeit this time I will be teaching a completely online section. While I will certainly miss the experience of teaching in-person, I'm glad to have the opportunity to teach Latin 101 once again.

"In the meantime, I've also been making progress on my dissertation, which is being advised by Prof. Atkins, in preparation for my first chapter defense this coming September. I've found the dissertation process to be a challenging but rewarding one, as I've enjoyed seeing the ideas first expressed in my prospectus develop in new and unexpected ways."

Michael Freeman

Michael Freeman teaching students in Dr. Clare Woods' "History of the Book" seminar how to transcribe a papyrus

"While much of my third year of graduate studies was devoted to preparing for (and thankfully passing!) all of my remaining Qualifying and Preliminary exams, I found a few moments to pursue my passion projects. I am grateful to have been awarded the Rubenstein Library's "Chester P. Middlesworth Award" for my paper on the Duke alchemical papyrus P.Duk.inv. 664R, research supervised by Dr. Jennifer Knust. What's more, I had the opportunity to share my interest in ancient alchemy with undergraduate students as a Teaching Assistant in Dr. Kyle Jazwa's "Ancient Science and Technology" course. With the aid of the David L. Paletz Innovative Course Enhancement Grant, I lead an experimental archaeology project for the students wherein we reconstructed several alchemical recipes from the extant papyrus handbooks and attempted to "transmute" copper coins into gold (success was, unfortunately, limited, so the department should not expect any large, anonymous donations from me just yet). At the close of the academic year, I received a bit of good news amid the drudgery of quarantine: I am to present my papyrological research at the 2021 SCS Annual Meeting, at the [virtual] panel hosted by the American Society of Papyrologists! I am grateful to Dr. William Johnson and Dr. Joshua Sosin for their mentorship in this research, and to all of my colleagues for their support in a year of transition."

Alex Karsten


"My fourth year was one of beginnings that were themselves the culmination of long preparation. Going into the dissertation process, I was both excited and intimidated by the prospect of choosing a project to dig into so deeply. In the end, my apprehension was unfounded—my dissertation on the Theognidea sprung almost naturally from my special topic on early Greek elegy. The process of developing the prospectus and now working on the first chapter has been everything I hoped for, thanks to Dr. González’s deft guidance.

"This year I had the opportunity to teach my first two classes. I have long looked forward to teaching. It more than lived up to my anticipation. My students were a joy to teach: diligent, curious, and resilient in the face of unprecedented challenges. I am lucky to have played a part in their education.

"Finally, this winter I had the honor of serving as the graduate liaison to the hiring committee for the cluster hire. The committee—in their thoughtfulness, care, and integrity—modeled how such a daunting task ought to be approached. I will forever be thankful for the chance to participate in such an important moment in our department’s history.

"It’s hard to know what the next year will bring, but I take comfort knowing that what has made my experience so enjoyable and fulfilling—the mentorship, the companionship, the work itself—will remain constant."

Clinton Kinkade

"My fifth year here at Duke was productive but full of surprises. Having worked through many revisions of the first chapter of my dissertation (covering the ancient reception of Sophocles in his scholia), I successfully defended that in the fall. Since then I have also completed the second chapter on Sophocles’s biography and am working on the third. This long quarantine has been both a blessing and a curse for my writing. While I was free from teaching responsibilities in the spring, I did get to teach the third semester of Latin in the fall, which was a nice return to my old days of teaching high school (though with somewhat less grumpy students). This summer I, together with Michael Freeman, have been helping input ostraca entries into the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri. I received a Bass Teaching Fellowship for the fall of 2020, for which I will be teaching the department’s introductory Greek course (as well as in the spring). In addition to my Classics work, I was also happy in February to welcome the birth of my niece Winnie Joan Sell, who had the good sense to be born right before the lockdown could keep us away."

Sinja Küppers

Advocating Classical Studies as Duke Social Media Ambassador

"This has been an eventful year for our department and for me personally! In my third year of PhD, I presented on Sophists: Public Identity and Roman Provincial Coinage at the UNC Second Sophistic Workshop and at the annual meeting of the Society for Classical Studies in Washington D.C. My research on sophists' public identity and the digital visualization of Sophistic movement led to a guest lecture at the University of Trier in December. The new leadership board of Duke F1RSTS invited me to share my experiences as a first-generation student at the Third Annual Duke/UNC 1G Graduate Student Symposium. Resulting from a special topic with Prof. José González, I presented on the Panhellenic Publicity in Epinician Poetry in the first digital conference of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South in May 2020.

"This summer, I am sharing my enthusiasm about textual transmission with our new faculty member Prof. Erika Weiberg. We are developing an archival module on female Greek lyric poets for fall instruction. Supported by a Summer Research Fellowship, I am working on a prospectus for my dissertation research. Weekly check-ins with my graduate peers and our DGS help our Classics community stay connected during these challenging times.

"Thanks to our Duke leaders, we are able to remain flexible and prepare for in person, hybrid, and online classes and events next year."

Tori Lee

The grad students cheer on recent alumna Laura Winters during her virtual "hooding"ceremony on Zoom.

"I've somehow completed my fourth year at Duke, although it's been quite a unique year in many ways. I had a wonderful experience teaching my own Latin 101-102 class for the first time, and I was sad to have to bid my students farewell over Zoom! I'm so thankful to Prof. Crews for his guidance during our strange digital transition. In the fall, I successfully defended my dissertation prospectus, and in the spring, I realized that the actual dissertation does not always follow one's best laid plans! Thus, I've been spending the summer researching and writing my first chapter, thanks to a generous grant from the Graduate School and not one, but TWO stellar advisors, Prof. Janan and Prof. Davis. In my non-dissertation time, I've been continuing my work for Eidolon and The Sportula, as well as developing resources for holding accessible online conferences for CripAntiquity. Though I've been able to keep in touch with my fellow grad students through Zoom trivia, Zoom exercise classes, and Zoom happy hours, I eagerly anticipate the day when we can congregate once again in person."

Adrian Linden-High

 Adrian enjoying the outdoors during the pandemic lockdown

"Now concluding my sixth year in the program, I have been focused on bringing to a close my dissertation about the slaves of Roman imperial soldiers. For me, the pandemic has had the beneficial side-effect of reducing ability and temptation to travel thus leaving me no alternative but to work on the thesis. In the pre-pandemic part of the year, I delivered a paper at the SCS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., which I submitted as a journal article this spring. On a personal note, I am happy to report that our lovely little Clara, now almost eleven months old, has been an unfailing source of mirth and marvel throughout these isolating months of lockdown and dissertating. Strange to think that she won’t have a memory of these strange times."

Antonio LoPiano reviewing the day's field notes with his team.

Antonio LoPiano

"My first three years at Duke have flown by and looking back at them I can scarcely believe how many milestones I’ve crossed and how many opportunities I’ve been fortunate enough to take advantage of. Just this past year I’ve completed my coursework for the very the very last time, passed all of my qualification and preliminary exams, and presented my first paper at the AIA conference in Washington, DC analyzing the results of the ground penetrating radar survey the Vulci 3000 team conducted in the summer of 2018. I have also had the good fortune to work on special topics and field projects with several professors, including a survey at Numantia/Renieblas in Spain with Prof. Jiménez and excavation at the Etrsucan city of Vulci in Italy with Prof. Forte. Even though COVID-19 has obviously thrown a wrench into my summer research plans, I am still invigorated by the prospect of fully diving into the dissertation process over the coming year as well as teaching Latin 203 as a primary instructor for the first time. I can’t wait to meet my students!"