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2016: Tradition, Innovation, and the Liberal Arts

This year’s theme celebrates the role Classics plays in the Liberal Arts tradition and the innovative ways it continues to challenge our contemporary world.

 “Liberal Arts” develops from the Classical theory of enkuklios paideia, “education in a circle.”  The subjects within the circle were considered essential for a free person to know in order to take part in civic life, which for the Greeks and Romans included participating in public debate, defending oneself in court, and serving on juries. The studies in the circle were grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Although the disciplines within the circle vary from Classical to modern times, the strength of a Liberal Arts education is still found in the concept of the circle: placing subjects in face-to-face conversations with each other so that learners weave together multiple strands of knowledge empowering them to confront thoughtfully life’s complexities and thrive. The challenge for us is to embrace such creative liberality that speaks against privileging the supposed usefulness of certain subjects for the work-force. This colloquium intends to explore that challenge by examining how Classical thought defies insularity, testing through innovation the disruptive boundaries too often placed on knowing and productivity.

  • A Roman in Kyoto: Empire Nostalgia in Takeushi Hideki’s Thermae Romae (2012) Monica Cyrino
  • Community and Liberal Arts: Locating the “Live” in the “Reproduced" Tim Johnson
  • STEM vs. Humanities: The Betrayal of a False Dichotomy James Newhard
  • Knowledge is a Verbal Noun James O'Donnell
  • Lettering the Self: Fronto, Marcus Aurelius, and “Distance-Learning” in Ancient Rome Noelle Zeiner-Carmichael

Dr. Monica Cyrino (University of New Mexico), an award winning educator, is one of the leading scholars on Classics in popular culture and film. In addition to numerous articles, she is the editor of two volumes on the HBO series Rome. She is also the editor of Screening Love and Sex in the Ancient World (2013) and co-editor of Classical Myth on Screen (2015). Her literary research centers on eros in ancient Greece, including the books, In Pandora's Jar: Lovesickness in Early Greek Poetry (1995), and Aphrodite: Greek Goddess of Love (2010).

Dr. Tim Johnson (College of Charleston) has published extensively on the politics of poetry, including his most recent book, Horace’s Iambic Criticism: Casting Blame. He served as editor for Religious Studies Review and the special issue Homer for Classical World. He also was the principal originator of the on-line Ph.D. program in Classics at the University of Florida.

Dr. James Newhard (College of Charleston) has been engaged in archaeological research for over 20 years, taking leading roles on projects in the North America, Europe, and western Asia. His publications currently focus upon the use of GIS and geospatial modeling, landscape history, and the relationship between human and environmental agency, as well as the use of informatics and innovative methods to visualize and image the past.

Dr. James O’Donnell (University Librarian, Arizona State University) has been engaged in digital innovation in education for almost 25 years. He has served as Provost and Professor of Classics at Georgetown University for a decade, after a career at Bryn Mawr, Cornell, and the University of Pennsylvania. He is a fellow of the Medieval Academy of America and served as president of the American Philological Association. He was a pioneer in the study of late antiquity, including “Avatars of the Word: From Papyrus to Cyberspace” (1998), “Augustine: A New Biography” (2005), and “The Ruin of the Roman Empire” (2008). His new book, “Pagans,” was published by Harper Collins, 2015.

Dr. Noelle Zeiner-Carmichael (College of Charleston) teaches a variety of courses in classical literature, civilization, and material culture. She has published two books, a monograph on Statius’ Silvae and more recently an anthology of original translation of ancient Roman letters. Her current research focuses on Roman epistolary literature and also involves a new long-term project on Roman death-bed narrative.


This lecture was co-sponsored with the Asian Studies Program, the Center for Public Choice and Market Process, the Classics Club, Eta Sigma Phi, and Friends of the Library.