Every summer, CLST supplements the stipends granted to PhD students to enable them to pursue opportunities around the world that are related to their research and/or academic development. For more information about the wide variety of activities undertaken by our students, please see below.
- Sebastiano Belleggia
Ancient Philosophy; Logic and Philosophy of Language; Metaphysics; History of Biology
- Giulia Bertoni
Iconographic Tradition; Classical Art and Archaeology; Early Modern Art History; Archaic and Classical Greek Literature
- Abigail Breuker
Ancient Philosophy; Epistemology
- Francesco Cassini
Classical Art and Archaeology; Roman History and Epigraphy
- Margaret Corn
Ancient and Comparative Philosophy; Pythagoreanism; Music; Mathematics; Near-Eastern and South Asian Studies
- Mary-Evelyn Farrior
Roman History, Archaeology; Greco-Roman Cultural Interaction
- Wooseok Kim
Ancient Philosophy; Metaphysics; Logic
- Shenda Kuang
Hellenistic History; Acculturation; Identity Politics; Classical Athens
- Giovanni Lovisetto
Classical Art and Archaeology; Epigraphy; Greek and Roman History; Greek and Roman Architecture; Greek Literature
- Susan Rahyab
Greco-Roman Egypt; Papyrology; Greek History; Roman History; Comparative History
- Ayelet Wenger
Roman Near East; late antique literatures; Jews in the Roman Empire
During summer 2023 I have invested a considerable amount of time in several activities connected with my field of study. First, I attended an intensive class of German for reading knowledge. It lasted six weeks from mid-June until the end of July and consisted of eight hours a week plus around two-three hours of study each day. The course has been useful: I have now a comprehensive knowledge of German grammar and a basic acquaintance with academic vocabulary. With a little exercise on my part, I should be able to reach a satisfactory level in a few years.
Apart from the German class, I have been working on three different projects. The first is a long-term project consisting in getting acquainted with Medieval Aristotelianism, with particular attention on dialectic and logic. I have read Aristotle’s Topics in Greek in their entirety. Moreover, I have accompanied my reading of Topics I with Alexander of Aphrodisias’ commentary and Boethius of Dacia’s quaestiones, both in their original language. On top of that, I have read Cicero’s Topica and Boethius’ De consolatione philosophiae, and I am currently reading De topicis differentiis. My goal is to have an adequate picture of how the Aristotelian notion of endoxa was adapted in Medieval philosophy.
My second project is a paper on Aristotle’s paronyms, to be presented at a conference in Fribourg (Switzerland) on 17th-18th November 2023. I intend to argue that paronyms are not to be understood as accidental compounds qua named after abstract properties inhering in them, but rather as distinct entities, with an account of their own. I offer a threefold classification of the forms this account may take. Then, I analyze the peculiar semantics of paronymous terms and I stress the fact that, contrary to essence terms, paronymous terms have a reference distinct from the content of their account. I argue this is due to the peculiar nature of the account of paronymous terms.
My third project is still in its initial phase. Broadly speaking, it is an analysis of Aristotle’s modalities and, in particular, of the modal operator ἐπὶ τὸ πολύ. Such operator plays an important role in biology, where it is used to talk about the regularities on nature, psychology, understood as a branch of biology, and moral philosophy. Yet, it is also the less clearly definable among Aristotle’s modal operators. Other modal operators, necessity, possibility, impossibility, and contingency, have been thoroughly studied and are defined by Aristotle himself in terms of each other (necessity is impossibility-that-non, contingency is possible-that and possible-that-non, etc.). The modal operator ἐπὶ τὸ πολύ is instead left aside and seemingly cannot be reduced to the others. For this reason, I thought it could be interesting to try to offer a unifying account of Aristotle’s modalities, that can include all the modal operators. Again, the project is still in its initial phase and I have not reached any conclusion yet.
I spent most of the summer based in Milan, working on my dissertation in Università Statale di Milano’s Classics library. From Milan, I took trips to Rome, Paris and Tel Aviv, and back to Italy. In Rome I took several photographs of sarcophagi reliefs needed for my dissertation and had the chance to see the exhibition at Terme di Diocleziano called ‘L’Istante e l’Eternità’, containing rare pieces from the Museo Nazionale Romano collection, including variations of some of the ‘cloth-gestures’ I investigate in my dissertation (fig. 1).
In Paris I visited the Louvre and saw and photographed central pieces to my dissertation, such as the Meleager Sarcophagus held there (fig. 2).
In Israel, I visited Caesarea (fig. 2) and met with Guy Stiebel at the Tel Aviv Archaeological Institute, discussing his edited book ‘Dress and Ideology: Fashioning Identity from Antiquity to the Present’ and the similarity between drapery and armor.
Back in Milan, I wrote a draft of my dissertation chapter on a ‘cloth-gesture’ ubiquitous in Roman art (and in pop art beyond that) but never investigated before: the fluttering cape of the hero. I discussed this chapter earlier this semester with Professor de Angelis. Thank you very much again for funding my research and field-trips this summer.
Fig. 1: Statue of Leda and the Swan, 2nd-century BCE, photograph from the exhibition ‘L’Istante e L’Eternità’ at Terme di Diocleziano in Rome.
Fig. 2: Detail of Meleager Sarcophagus, ca. 180 AD, showing Althea about to burn the log that will cause the death of her son. From Louvre Inv. No. Ma 539.
Fig. 3: Unfinished sarcophagus in Caesarea Maritima, Israel.
Over the summer of 2023, I used funding from Classical Studies to enable me to stay in New York and work on the first chapter of my dissertation with the resources of the Columbia libraries. At the start of the summer, I was conducting research on the state of the field covering the question at the heart of the first chapter of my dissertation, so I was heavily reliant on the resources at Butler library. After compiling this literature into a more or less comprehensive report, I spent much of the rest of the summer writing a preliminary draft of the first chapter. My goal was to write approximately 10,000 words over the summer and think about how to turn this shorter version of my first chapter into a potentially publishable piece. As such, I also worked on developing a couple of abstracts for conferences about the topic of my first chapter to send out. I also prepared a presentation on a section of the first chapter to share at the End of Summer Workshop run by Katja Vogt. Staying in New York over the summer allowed me to accomplish these goals, as I had access to the library resources I needed as well as focused working spaces. Thanks to funding from Classical Studies, I did not have to sublet my apartment here and return to Georgia for an extended period of time during which working would have been much more difficult. Because of the work I was able to do over the summer, I have been able to continue making progress on my first chapter of my dissertation at a good rate during the semester.
The summer funds, generously awarded by the CLST committee, were beneficial to several activities related to the completion of my dissertation project, entitled “Cities and Spaces: Civic Culture and the 'Politics of Space' in Republican Italy, 2nd– 1st century BCE.”
After having spent the first part of my summer working and researching in Venice, I dedicated July and August to field and archival research for the central chapters of my dissertation, represented by three case studies (Aquileia, Praeneste, and Pompeii), for which I am studying the archaeological and epigraphical dossiers related to their Republican phase.
In July, I was in Aquileia, where I could visit some of the most recent excavations in central areas of the city and take measurements and pictures of the archaeological remains still in situ. Even more important, however, was the work done in the local museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale), which stores some of the most relevant pieces related to my doctoral work.
In particular, I spent a few days in the Museum’s archive, where I was able to access excavation reports from the Seventies and Eighties and clarify some obscure points related to archaeological material that still presented dating problems. Also, seeing the material firsthand allowed me to revise some interpretations and correct mistakes made in the chapter's writing phase. Particularly important was, in this sense, the opportunity to take measurements and pictures of two specific inscriptions (of C. Lucilius and T . Annius Luscus) coming from the old city’s forum, whose importance has been so far neglected by scholars and that can be, in turn, pivotal documents for the understanding of Aquileia’s public spaces.
After Aquileia, I continued my research in Praeneste. There, I could get a sense of my chapter’s material for the first time by confronting the scholarship on which my writing was based, with the actual topography of the city and its architectural remains. The local museum helped me expand the section on statues and monuments, thanks to the wealth of archaeological material from the sanctuary of Fortuna, the forum, and the so-called ‘lower city,’ which is the outcome of different excavation phases from the early 20th century onwards. Some of these objects, only partly published, were very useful for opening new avenues for the chapter and as a comparison for the already existing material on which the case study is based. Also, on a more general yet fundamental level, the experience of the space in a city like Praeneste, redesigned in grand, scenic forms in the Late Hellenistic phase, allowed for a different and more aware comprehension of the spatial dynamics that must have been in placed in the ancient Roman cities. The research visit allowed me to document most of the material inside and outside the museum and integrate my chapters substantially with new information and various amends.
Finally, between the visits and in early September, I spent some weeks in Rome, where I could take advantage of the libraries of the Ecole Francaise, the America Academy, and the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut to complete and revise my dissertation chapters and work on new projects.
Among these, I worked on a conference paper titled “Serial honors: public spaces and honorific practices in Republican Italy (2nd-1st century BCE) to be published in the proceedings of the conference “Standardisation and Localism in the Roman World,” June 8-10, 2023. The paper constitutes a reflection on some general patterns in Italian urbanization in the Late Republican period, derived from my dissertation and very useful as a writing sample for many upcoming applications for academic positions.
Also, during my time in Rome, made possible by the CLST summer funds, I was able to conduct the necessary research and make the arrangements required for my participation in the conference “Symposium Vesuvianum: Reading Pliny in the 21st Century,” in which I recently participated.
Thank you again for allowing me to conduct such crucial research through CLST funds.
Upon the conclusion of the Center for the Ancient Mediterranean’s trip to Western Turkey this past May, I used the funding generously granted to me by CLST to spend extended time in Istanbul and to travel to Samos, Greece. My goal was to begin collecting preliminary data on Samos’ role in eastern Mediterranean trade in the 6th century BCE for my dissertation on the rise of early Pythagoreanism. As such, in Istanbul, in addition to visiting sites that we were not able to see on the last day of the CAM trip, I explored the main building of the Istanbul Archaeological Museums complex, focusing on the similarities and differences between Near Eastern iconography and visual motifs and their archaic Greek counterparts. I then traveled to Samos, home of Pythagoras, where I continued the comparative work begun in Istanbul at the archaeological museums in Pythagoreio and Vathy. I also explored key sites including the Heraion, Eupalinian Aqueduct, and the fortification walls of the ancient town, and toured the island by boat. Getting to be on-site both enabled me to have access to resources that are otherwise not very accessible and to get a better sense of Samos’ physical position in the North Aegean and its proximity to significant ancient cultural centers including Miletus, Ephesus, and Priene (all of which I had the pleasure of visiting the week prior as part of the above-mentioned CAM trip). The foregoing has been invaluable as I continue to reconstruct a fuller picture of the Golden Age of Samos, the backdrop of the beginning of the Pythagorean tradition, as part of my dissertation. Thank you, CLST!
With the support of the Classical Studies Program, I supervised the excavation of a shopfront in the southeastern corner of Pompeii as part of the Pompeii I.14 Project. I trained and worked together with four student-excavators to excavate the space from the level of the A.D. 79 eruption, which had been exposed in previous archaeological campaigns, all the way down to the bedrock. Our work revealed that the space underwent several changes in the century prior to the eruption, from the addition of new walls to several phases of repaving. I was particularly thrilled that our trench included several primary deposits, meaning that the material had been preserved in its original context as it was deliberately deposited in antiquity. Primary deposits provide valuable information about the use of the space but also the daily life of its occupants. For instance, one of our deposits was a cesspit (i.e. an ancient kitchen trashcan!). Its contents will be further analyzed by our environmental team in the coming season, and the results have the potential to reveal more about the dining habits of first century A.D. Pompeiians.
The information we learned through our excavation this summer is contributing to our understanding of the development and use of an area at the physical and social margins of Pompeii. Each season brings new questions, and the uniquely difficult urban stratigraphy of Pompeii constantly challenges and strengthens my skills as a field archaeologist. I am immensely grateful to both the Pompeii I.14 Project and support of our director Dr. Allison Emmerson for this incredible experience, and also to the Classical Studies Program for providing me the financial support necessary to enable my involvement in this project.
The primary objective of my CLST-funded research this summer was to improve my reading skills in French by reading philosophical prose written in quality French. The selected text was Nobel prize awardee Henri Bergson’s magnum opus Matière et Mémoire, and the plan was to read weekly 9 pages of its introductory and first chapters, the amount of which was 80 pages, in about 9 weeks.
It turned out that the initial weekly schedule failed to reflect the progress made as a result of taking an intensive reading course in French. It took only two weeks (Jul. 13–30) for me to accomplish the initial task of reading 80 pages of French. I read up to 10 pages by spending about 3–5 hours a day.
That said, it was fruitful in that I had a chance to encounter advanced grammar points in use, such as neafter comparatives (§ 563 Glanville Price), the construction of de where a modifying adjective is to be combined with de after a noun that has indefinite force (§ 667 Price), zero-article when two nouns are connected by et and complement each other (§ 28 i Price), and so on.
Philosophically, the motive of reading Bergson was that he appeared to adopt, at least for the time being, what one might call a “naïve” or commonsensical, as Bergson himself dubbs, viewpoint concerning the problem of the existence of the outer world: the world is as it appears to us. This is strikingly similar to the Socratic interpretation of the Protagorean relativism in Plato’s Theatetus. Moreover, this naïve view was independently investigated by a philosopher from a different tradition than the Western one, namely by Buddhist philosopher Dignāga. Surprisingly, the three philosophers, Plato, Dignāga, and Bergson, each arrive at different conclusions. As is well known, Plato refutes, or claims to have refuted, Protagorean relativism; Dignāga goes on to claim that “mind-only” thesis, although he has not been usually, and to my thought rightly, thought to be a relativist. Bergson, on the other hand, admits the existence of the outer, material, world while endorsing the view, which fact is not uncontroversial among scholars. This disagreement indicates that naïve view may still have more to say to us, which, though, was beyond the language study I was focused on this summer.
This summer, I used part of the CLST funding to cover my transatlantic air ticket for this year’s CAM trip to West Turkey in late May. Over this 10-day-long journey, my cohort visited 13 ancient cities including Halikarnassos, Miletos, Aphrodisias, Hierapolis, Laodikeia, Priene, Ephesos, Smyrna, Sardes, Pergamon, Troy, Assos, and Istanbul. I did on-site presentations for Smyrna and Sardes on May 23rd and wrote a travel journal for that day. I am also going to give a short talk during the 2023 CAM trip presentations on November 3rd.
Then I flew back to China and spent the next 2 months writing and rewriting parts of my dissertation. With the feedback and input from the committee meeting in early May, I restructured the first part of my dissertation (especially the bits on methodology) and rewrote some of the first case study in Part II on wonders/thomata. I am currently working on the second case study.
The next thing on my summer schedule began in mid-August when I got back to New York City to prepare for my Fall semester teaching Contemporary Civilization (“CC”). I spent much time reading materials from the CC reading list and participated in events and workshops for new CC instructors over the last week of August where I worked on my syllabus, attended pedagogical seminars and expert lectures, and experienced micro-teaching sessions.
Thanks to the Classical Studies Summer Fund, I had the possibility of participating in the NYU - University of Milan excavation at the ancient site of Selinus in Sicily during the summer of 2023 (June-July). This summer fund also facilitated museum research in Athens (August 2023), a crucial component for the completion of my dissertation. The combination of these experiences contributes significantly to the depth and breadth of my classical studies pursuits.
This past summer, as I began working on my dissertation prospectus, I put my Classical Studies summer funding toward spending a week in Rome. I was interested in seeing examples of censorship, book-burning, damnatio memoriae, and “Aegyptiaca” first-hand. To this end, I visited various museums and archaeological sites across Rome, including the Vatican Museums, Centrale Montemartini, Palazzo Massimo, the Baths of Diocletian, the Capitoline Museums, the Market of Trajan, and the Forum. A particular highlight of the trip was seeing the reliefs of the Anaglypha Traiani in the Curia Julia; these reliefs were the focus of one of my M.Phil. exam essays and are among the sources for my PhD thesis. Being in these spaces, especially the Forum, allowed me to get a better sense of public spaces in Rome, and the various factors that determine what is displayed and memorialized vs. what is destroyed and manipulated, and when/how the state can determine the parameters of that manipulation. As I continue to write my prospectus on censorship in the Roman Empire, this trip was very valuable as I worked through the early stages of thinking through my topic and identifying new strands of the “problem” that I had not yet considered.
It was a very productive summer. I spent most of my time in the National Library of Israel, primarily working on an article about the relationship between two late antique rabbinic compositions, Genesis Rabbah and Leviticus Rabbah. I also lay the groundwork for a much larger project related to this article.
The resources of the National Library were critical for my project. The article required transcription and collation of passages from dozens of manuscripts, some of which can only be accessed in digitized form when one is physically present in the building of the National Library. Others can only be viewed in the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts located in the basement of the library. The shelves of the library’s Jewish Studies reading room are stocked with readily available editions and books that would, in other libraries, require digging and wait times. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv boast an enormous concentration of experts in and adjacent to my field, and I had many extremely helpful meetings and received much excellent advice.
I was also able to benefit from several important events in and around Jerusalem. I attended three conferences: “New Perspectives on the Talmud Yerushalmi” at Tel Aviv University, “‘Words of Torah are Fruitful and Multiply’: Replication, Transfers, and Strategies of Expansion in Rabbinic Literature” (my translation) at the Hebrew University, and “The Eighth Irano-Judaica Conference,” also at the Hebrew University. I also participated in a series of workshops on the Life of Aesop given in Jerusalem by Prof. Ioannis Konstantakos of the University of Athens.
It was, in short, a good summer. I’m very grateful for the CLST summer funding that made it financially easier for me to spend this time in Jerusalem.