Graduate Student News (2021-22)

Melissa Baroff

"This year, I taught my first full year of Introductory Latin and passed my prospectus defense. My dissertation will grapple with the literary characterizations of Octavia and Poppaea, Nero’s first two wives."

Erickson Bridges

"As I head into my 7th year at the Department of Classical Studies, I am grateful for the wonderful opportunities and accomplishments I've had over my 6th. Last fall, I taught Intermediate Latin to our undergraduate students, helping them as they began their first foray into actual Latin texts (I particularly enjoyed sharing my own love for poetic analysis in our unit on Ovid's Metamorphoses). Then, in the spring, thanks to the Bass Instructional Fellowship, I taught a course of my own design on the history of the philosophy of Epicureanism, taking students through the poem of Lucretius and interrogating the concepts and consistency of Epicurean physics, ethics, and theology. I found this an immensely rewarding experience, as well as an educational one, as I learned much about classroom instruction outside of the language courses I've previously taught. There are few joys quite like that of a truly engaged and invest classroom discussion.

"In the next year, I will be working under the Graduate School Administrative Internship, assisting with research into various matters relevant to graduate education and administration. Meanwhile, I will be working on the final revisions for my dissertation on retrospective readings of Lucretius: I am currently finishing up my fourth and final chapter, and plan to submit my dissertation for defense in the spring semester."

Michael Freeman

Michael Freeman and Caitlin
Michael and his wife, Caitlin, visiting the Colosseum during their honeymoon in Italy

"This year I have found myself becoming more and more comfortable in my 'teacher' and 'junior scholar' shoes. I’m getting ready to take the leap into the teaching job market this fall!

"My work with the wonderful folks at the Franklin Humanities Manuscript Migration Lab took shape into a short article about the history and acquisition of Duke’s papyri, my first ever manuscript submitted for publication in an academic journal—fingers crossed that Reviewer #2 will be kind!

"I also had the chance to teach one of my dream courses, Greek History, this spring. It was an incredible opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of a bread-and-butter class like this, co-teaching it alongside a mentor (Josh Sosin) who has been at it for decades. Discovering and developing my own lecture style was a challenge, but an exciting one.

"Even more exciting (no offense to Greek History): I married the love of my life this summer! Graduate school has been period of growth in many avenues: Duke has been a fantastic place to begin my academic career, and Caitlin and I have found the Triangle to be the perfect place to begin our own journey together."

Alex Karsten

"My sixth year was an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone, both literally and figuratively. I was lucky to have the incomparable support of the department and work with educators from across Duke.

"In the Fall, I worked in the Writing Studio of the Thompson Writing program as a consultant. I worked with students from a wide-range of disciplines, graduate and undergrad ,on work at all stages of development. I truly enjoyed working one-on-one with students to help hone their writing, and I know that my own writing will benefit immensely from the experience.

"In the Spring, I taught a self-designed Writing 101 course entitled "Ancient Race, Modern Racism." It was a much different class than those I have previously taught, and it was a good reminder of just how familiarly unfamiliar the ancient world can be. The work that my students produced on a daily basis astounded me: the old cliché that the teacher learns more from the students than vice versa is a cliché because it is true!

"In May, I was finally able to take a long-delayed trip to examine manuscripts of the Theognidea in London, Paris, Rome, and Venice. The experience of working directly with these documents will stay with me for the rest of my life. I returned with a refreshed enthusiasm for the final stages of my dissertation."

Sinja Küppers

Sinja Kuppers
PhD student Sinja Küppers

"In my fifth year of my PhD, I taught a special topics course on Roman Education and discussed what brings purpose and meaning to college education as a Kenan Institute of Ethics fellow. In addition, I gained valuable insight into curriculum research and undergraduate programs at Duke and peer institutions while working as a provost intern for the Curriculum Development Committee that is revamping the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences curriculum. I also co-moderated an event on Class, Classics & First-Generation Identity with Dr. Padilla Peralta sponsored by the department of Classical Studies and the Graduate School. Beyond Duke, I learned a lot about the relationship between Duke and Durham as I served on the External Engagement Committee of the Duke Board of Trustees and supported the merger of two local nonprofits working towards more socioeconomic equity in Durham. I am the first Humanist to complete the Duke graduate certificate program in Innovation & Entrepreneurship and am proud to be the first Classicist to receive a dissertation fellowship from the National Academy of Education. This fellowship will support my dissertation research on the social history of higher education in the late Roman Empire. This year, I presented at four conferences my research on Roman immigration, intellectuals' social media, alternative pathways in education, and students in need."

Antonio LoPiano

LoPiano with funerary inscription of Tiberius
Antonio with the funerary inscription of Tiberius at the Mausoleum of Augustus

"My fifth year at Duke was another one packed with new experiences! After passing the defense of my first chapter I dug, into new research on state formation in Central Italy for my dissertation. In the Spring, I had the privilege to assist with the teaching of brand-new class on the history and philosophy of medicine and human flourishing with Prof. González and was extremely excited to work with him again on the Duke in Rome summer abroad program. What an amazing trip! Students learned about Roman history in situ, taking the classroom to an incredible array of sites from Pompeii, to the Forum Romanum, to Etruscan necropoleis. This next year promises to be just as exciting. In the fall I will be conducting a remote sensing field survey at the ancient Etruscan city of Doganella, funded by the Etruscan Research Foundation, Duke University, and the Department of Classical. In the spring I will be undertaking the Bass Digital Education Fellowship, in which I will be working on a digital aspect of my research that can benefit undergraduate education at Duke and in my future career."

Ben Moon-Black
An inscription in the wild! I'm pointing to "Ben," from a poorly ordered "bene merenti."

Benjamin Moon-Black

"This academic year, I completed my ancient language exams in Latin and Greek, meaning that I have passed all of the exams anterior to the general exams in the spring of this year. InMay, I presented a paper on Julian the Apostate at an Early Christianity conference, my first time doing so. Lastly, I recently attended and successfully completed the British School atRome's post-graduate course on Latin epigraphy, taught by Dr. Abigail Graham, for which I received departmental research funding. The attached photo is from this course."

Leo Trotz-Liboff

"This year I'm happy to report that my first peer-reviewed journal was accepted to The Classical Journal. It is called 'Vergil's Epicurean Fortunatus' and treats the philosophic views of the famous Roman poet Vergil. The article will appear in the spring of 2023.

Leo and Durham Bulls mascot
A fortuitous meeting with the Durham Bulls' enigmatic mascot, Wool E. Bull

"A co-authored book-chapter (with our own department chair Jed W. Atkins) on Cicero's "De oratore" will also be published in a volume called 'Cicero as Philosopher' with De Gruyter. We presented our research at the Society for Classical Studies annual meeting on a panel for the reception of Plato in Roman philosophy, and at a workshop for the volume contributors.

"Aside from that, I presented a paper on Caesar's technique of writing history at the Classical Association of the Middle West and South.

"It was also a pleasure to co-organize the Duke-UNC Graduate Classics Symposium, where we had very lively and interesting discussion of graduates from both universities' works in progress.

"I look forward to another year with Duke Classical Studies. Go Bulls!"

Tara Wells

Tara Wells holding awards
Receiving Awards at CAMWS Annual Meeting

"For my 2nd year in the program I successfully passed the Latin Reading List and German exams. In the fall I continued to work on the Diversity Committee’s Events sub-committee and organized a session of the Anti-Racism reading group in which I invited a speaker Rebecca Futo Kennedy to join and discuss her own work in anti-racist pedagogy. I also continued to work with the Nasher Museum on preparing a new Antiquities gallery display. In the spring I gave my first conference paper at the University of Florida’s 5th Graduate Symposium on identity in Euripides’ Phoinissai. Also in spring I was invited to participate as a speaker on a panel through the NYU Society for Ancient Studies’ Critical Conversations in Ancient Studies on the topic of disability inclusivity and disability-inclusive pedagogy. For the summer I participated in an ASCSA seminar and a conservation program in San Gemini, Italy, both of which I received several generous funding awards for from CAMWS (Excavation & Field School Award; Rudolph Masciantonio Diversity Award), Eta Sigma Phi (Brent Malcolm Froberg Award), the Nasher Museum (Mary Duke Biddle Award), and the CLST department (Research Travel Award). I am so grateful for all of these great honors which made an incredible summer possible. Overall it was a wonderful 2nd year and I look forward to my 3rd year in 2022-2023."