Professor and Chair of the Classics Department,The Catherine Ehrman Thoresen '23 and William E. Thoresen Chair of Humanities
B.A., University of South Carolina; M.A., Ph.D., University of Wisconsin (Madison)
Since joining the faculty in 1994 I have combined my graduate training as a Classical philologist with my research as an archaeologist: I currently teach all levels of Latin language and literature as well as courses in ancient archaeology.
A specialist in the archaeology of late and post-Roman North Africa, over the last decade I have directed archaeological excavations of two early Christian basilicas at Carthage (Tunisia) and the ongoing excavation of a catacomb (burial ) complex at Lamta (Tunisia). The three excavations were supported by a variety of foundation fellowships and research grants and included archaeological field schools for graduate and undergraduate students and resulted in the publication of two books and numerous articles.
I was a fellow at the American Academy in Rome (1999-2000) and received a sabbatical fellowship from the Loeb Classical Library Foundation (2006-2007). In addition to my fieldwork, my recent collaborative research includes an interdisciplinary project, "Roman Burial and Memorial Practices and Earliest Christianity," funded by the Shohet fellowship of the International Catacomb Society (2004-05).
These experiences lead me to encourage students to participate in excavations, interdisciplinary research and experiential learning. I have supervised both independent study and student projects as part of Randolph's Summer Research Program, most recently in 2009, compiling an Intermediate Latin Reader called Epistulae aliorum (Other People’s Mail) now in used in Latin 201.
As an avid student of modern languages and an advocate of overseas travel and
study, I urge Classics majors to study in Rome, Sicily, Athens or Reading for a
semester and I have led study tours, most recently to Rome, in conjunction with
a course on mosaic and frescos. Since my office is on the third floor of a
building without an elevator, my serious practice of yoga is helpful.
I received a B.A. in Classics (Greek) at Yale University, and then a Ph.D. in Classics, with a minor in Comparative Literature, at Stanford University. My doctoral work focused on the interpretive implications of doubling and the three-actor convention in Greek tragedy.
At Randolph my students and I put that work on its feet by continuing the R-MWC Greek Play tradition, begun in 1909 by Greek Professor Mabel K. Whiteside. Directing the plays provides insight into the realities facing the ancient playwrights, and my research continues to argue that you cannot understand the plays without understanding how they were played. I have now directed seven productions using original practices, six in the Whiteside Greek Theatre on campus and one in Greece as part of the 2009 summer travel seminar, "Practical Wisdom: Philosophy and Drama in Greece."
Although Greek drama is my specialty, I love teaching any course that leads students into an understanding of ancient literature and culture, in translation or in the original language. I haven't met an obscure grammatical term I don't love, and I do my best to inspire your passion for them as well in my ancient Greek courses. I also try to help students remember that the point of learning that declension or conjugation is to be able to read the words of the ancients, and to draw us that much closer to understanding them and their importance to us.
When I have time, I see movies, read novels, and knit. I live happily on Garland Hill with my husband Chris, my sons Spencer and Leo, and my daughter Helen.