Graduate Student News (2022-23)

Melissa Baroff

This year, I defended the first chapter of my dissertation. The chapter is titled "Poppaea's Apotheosis — the controversial empress characterized as the ideal wife." My dissertation addresses the varied literary characterizations of Octavia and Poppaea, Nero's first two wives. In addition to my dissertation work, I designed and taught a course on ancient female leaders, titled "The Woman Leader: Powerful Women in Greece and Rome," for the Duke Pre‐College Program. Next year, I will hold a Graduate School Administrative Internship.

Alex Karsten

Karsten PhD defense
With my committee after the successful defense

My final year as a graduate student at Duke had a little bit of everything. I had the privilege of teaching Elementary Latin again and had absolutely delightful students. It was my first repeated course, and I learned quite a bit about how to make adjustments to suit the class at hand. In the summer, I worked with the American School of Classical Studies at Athens' publications office. I cannot speak highly enough of the thoughtfulness that they bring to their work every day, not to mention their kindness! Finally, I spent the majority of the year completing my dissertation, which I defended in July. Looking ahead to next year, I will be back in Allen but in a different capacity: teaching Latin and Greek as a full‐time instructor. My years as a graduate were some of the best of my life, and I eagerly look forward to this next chapter.

Sinja Küppers

Sinja at Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center
Sinja at Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center

In 2022‐23, I presented at four international conferences, gave one invited talk, and received the Rudolph Masciantonio Diversity Award by the Classical Association of the Middle West and South. I also served on the Graduate and Professional Education Research Committee of the Duke Board of Trustees and the Young Trustee Selection Committee. At two retreats in Washington DC, I was inspired by the fellows from the National Academy of Education and Spencer Foundation, that generously funded my final year of dissertation writing. I am happy to share that I successfully defended my PhD thesis on nontraditional pathways in Roman higher education and accepted a four‐year postdoctoral fellowship at the Polonsky Academy for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Israel starting in October 2023. My future academic plans include a presentation on slavery in late antique literature at the annual Classics conference in Chicago in 2024, research on adopted slaves in the Roman Empire at the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies in the summer 2024, and a paper presentation on social inequality in Christian philosophy at the International Patristics Conference in Oxford, UK. Many thanks to the Duke faculty who supported me! I know that my Duke friendships and experiences will continue to enrich my life in the future and I look forward to the adventures that lie ahead.

Benjamin Moon-Black

This AY, after completing all of my pre‐dissertation exams, I was delighted to be offered a Graduate Assistantship for the summer to assist Professors Jennifer Knust, Kathryn Morgan, and Paul Jaskot in designing an undergraduate‐level course on looting and ownership of artifacts, intended for the 2024‐5 AY. I also collaborated with two other grad students to secure funding for a project from the Franklin Institute for the Humanities. The project, "Platonic Questions, Contemporary Problems," will take place over the next year and will investigate current issues of justice through a multidiscipline reading group centered on Plato's Republic. Next AY, I will be working as an apprentice in Professor Erika Weiberg's introductory Greek course, with the goal of learning from her how to lead a Greek course of my own in the future.

Orr at CAMWS
At CAMWS—Provo, Utah

Daniel Orr

I enjoyed a great first year in the PhD program: lots of new connections, good classes, and lots of Latin on the side. Highlights included reading de Officiis I with the other first years, Tacitean indirect discourse in Lauren Ginsberg's class on Annales 13 and 14, a romp through de Rerum Natura with Gregson Davis that would have made Lucretius proud, and careful yet caring trek through first half of the gospel of Luke in a class of div students, undergrads, and CLST Phds with Jose Gonzalez. Outside of classes, I presented at the CAMWS conference in Provo on Livy's political characterization of Manlius Torquatus. I'm looking forward to next year!

Leo Trotz-Liboff

This year I had the pleasure of teaching Greek 101 and 102 to a group of amazingly dedicated undergraduates. The future of Classical Studies is in good hands with them! My first article "Vergil's Epicurean Fortunatus" also appeared in volume 118 of The Classical Journal. Aside from that, I am looking forward to spending this coming academic year in Bonn, Germany on a Fulbright grant to finish my dissertation "Esoteric Philosophy in Rome." After that I plan to continue on in academia. Thanks for another great year Duke Classical Studies!

Tara Wells

On site in Pompeii (Tulane I.14 Project) carrying away cassette of pottery to sort and document
On site in Pompeii (Tulane I.14 Project) carrying away cassette of pottery to sort and document

This past year has certainly been busy! As it was my 3rd year in the program, I completed my required coursework and finished all of my exams, bringing me to ABD status. I enjoyed TAing in the fall and am looking forward to teaching more in the coming semesters. I am also excited to dive into my dissertation research on the topic of migrant identity in Greek tragedy. Outside of classes and exams, I had the honor of speaking on a panel on Disability in Ancient History, hosted by the Association of Ancient Historians. I also presented my first paper at the SCS/AIA Annual Meeting, which was very exciting. For the first half of the summer I had a wonderful experience working as a ceramics specialist on Tulane's Pompeii I.14 Project, for which I was awarded a scholarship by the American Friends of Herculaneum to provide needed financial support. Finally, for the upcoming year, I have been accepted into the Regular Member program at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. I will greatly miss the amazing Duke CLST community while I'm away, but I am thrilled and so grateful to have such an incredible opportunity to spend the year immersed in the Greek world, both ancient and modern.