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New energy in ancient study - Classics Feature Part 4

Fri. Oct. 16, 2015

The Winnipeg Art Gallery’s exhibit, Olympus: The Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin, brings to us more than 160 classical treasures from the National Museums of Berlin, and so doing, it is the largest exhibit of classical antiquities to be held in Manitoba in more than 50 years. It’s no surprise, then, that the usually busy faculty, staff and students of the University of Winnipeg’s Department of Classics are working even harder this year to maximize the benefit of having this amazing exhibit in Winnipeg and practically next door!

In this four part series, we feature UWinnipeg’s Department of Classics and look at some of events and activities the Department is planning in association with the exhibit.

In Part 1, I caught up with Dr. Allison Surtees to ask her for some background about her work, about the conference, Methodologies in Ancient Material Culture, and how she came to be hosting it with Dr. Kate Cooper at the University of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

In Part 2, Dr. Surtees tells us about the keynote address for the conference Methodologies in Ancient Material Culture, which is being given as the University of Winnipeg 2015-16 Bonnycastle Lecture.

In Part 3, we look at this year's Western Canada Tour lecture, organized by Dr. Conor Whately, and see how this ties in with the Olympus exhibit and other events.

Finally, I met with Dr. Pauline Ripat, Chair of the Department of Classics, to find out about how the Department is involved, sometimes in collaboration with the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) and/or the University of Manitoba’s Department of Classics, in ways which work to highlight this very special learning opportunity. Here’s what I found out.

Faculty members are lending their expertise.

Faculty members are giving seminars and lectures at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) in their respective areas as they relate to the exhibit, where for example:

  • On May 31, Dr. Conor Whately and Dr. Matthew Maher gave an interactive seminar that explored how the Greeks and Romans fought, who they fought, why they won or lost, and what it meant to be a soldier in the ancient Mediterranean world. 
  • On October 24, 2015, Dr. Michael MacKinnon gave a seminar “Animals in Antiquity.”

There are opportunities for students.

(i)                   Three UWinnipeg Classics students, Royce Murray, Evan Taylor, and Arial Tetreault, had the opportunity to be involved directly with the exhibit when they were invited to put together research materials to be used for WAG tours of the exhibit for students in Grades 5, 8, and 12. In each case, the objective was for them to relate specific pieces in the exhibit to social and mythological contexts as entry points into important areas of ancient life.

(ii)                 Student colloquia

    • January 2016: The UW/U of M Classics departments are hosting a student colloquium on Saturday, January 23. Students from Dr. Allison Surtees’ course on the collection and students from comparable classes at U of M will be invited to present their work in a supportive environment, but one which will have a bit of the formality of a professional conference.

    • March 2016: A second student colloquium is being held in March 2016 and, in addition to upper level undergraduate and Masters level Classics students from the UW and U of M, it will include students from the University of Calgary, who have been drawn to Winnipeg by the opportunity to view the collection. Students will give presentations of their work which may or may not relate specifically to the collection, as the students from the U of C will not have had the same access to the exhibit.

Speakers have been invited from outside of the local classics community.

  • The University of Winnipeg, the University of Manitoba, and the WAG are working together to host Dr. C. W. Marshall from the University of British Columbia for his talk: “From Athena to Wonder Woman: Pop Culture and Classical Myth,” which will be held at the Art Gallery.

  • The University of Manitoba’s annual Berry Lecture is being organized around a speaker with an interest in ancient material culture, i.e., Dr. John Bodel of Brown University. Bodel is an anthropologist and historian with an expertise in material sites. His talk will be given in the Spring of 2016 (March 6, 2016) and is entitled “The Botany of Death.”