Academics Blog

Archive for the Category Classics *



Name: Grady Stevens

Year: Class of 2013

Hometown: Unionville, PA

Major: Classics

Coliseum in Rome Credit: http://heavenspot.us/coliseum-rome-italy.html

Course Offerings:

The study of the classics offers many interdisciplinary options to the student who wishes to have a secondary major, minor or use the courses as distribution credits. For these reasons every student at Hopkins can find at least a course or two, offered by the department, which are not only interesting to the student intellectually, but also help advance the student toward graduation in their Major. Whether you are a Pre-Med Student who is looking to use Latin to improve your understanding of medical terminology; an Archaeology Major interested in delving into hands-on field work in Greece or Italy; a Philosophy Major looking to gain an understanding of the beginnings of the Western Philosophical Tradition; an English Major looking to delve into the origins of Epic, Tragedy, or the Ancient Novel; a History Major looking to read Herodotus or Thucydides; an Engineer interested in Roman Engineering; an Art Major looking to better understand the intense realism of Classical Greek Sculpture; or an International Studies major looking to understand the Thucydides, and Aristotle’s  theories about International Politics, there is something for everyone in the department. The Classics department offers courses that are as wide and varied as the majors at the school.

Laocoon Pio Clementino Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laoco%C3%B6n_and_His_Sons

Study Abroad options:

Unlike most majors, not only is there an option to study abroad, this option is actively encouraged by the faculty. Studying abroad can take the form of a semester, year, summer intensive language and culture work, summer archeological digs, or intersession studying abroad. The department’s flexible major and minor requirements allow for many varied ways at incorporating the Study abroad option. Particularly great study abroad options are opportunities in Rome and Athens, as well as archaeological digs that take place all across the Classical world. As I said before, Studying abroad is not just an option it is actively supported and is well worth the student’s efforts.

She Wolf Suckles Romulus and Remus Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laoco%C3%B6n_and_His_Sons

Advantages of Being a Classics Major:

The Classics as a major is one of those stereotypical majors that many people will look at you and ask “Well, What are you going to do with that major?” The implication is that The Classics is not a worthwhile major because the perceived career route is too narrow and doesn’t prepare students for the ‘real world’. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In my opinion, students who use Classics as a major can give themselves quite a leg up on other students. There are many reasons for this. The first is that the Classics is such an interdisciplinary study, encompassing Philosophy, Literature, Linguistics, Political Science, Archaeology, Engineering, Art History and other disciplines. Therefore, this field can be used to bolster another passion that you have, if that is what you desire. Unlike many other majors Classics is so flexible that the major becomes what you want it to become. Consequently, it is very easy to major in the Classics and have another major or minor. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the courses it happens that many courses are cross listed with other departments and students can get credit for those other departments in this fashion. However, if the student has their heart dead-set on studying the Classics and wishes to pursue a career in the field they are in luck because the major offers very small class sizes with a lot of direct one-on-one attention from professors. As well as independent research opportunities, to help direct the student’s passions in a much more focused way then is possible in some of the larger majors. This is the beauty of the Classics at Hopkins. Because the classes are small and professors care about not only your progress in class, but also about you as a person. You develop a relationship with many of the professors, and they guide you toward what you are really interested in studying. That is the biggest advantage of the Major- great faculty that want to see their students succeed in the classroom and grow as people.

Achilles and Hektor Credit: http://www.sikyon.com/mykinai/homer_eg.html

My Journey with a Classics Degree:

My journey to the Classics was a circuitous one. I knew that I wanted to come to college and Study Philosophy, and I knew that I loved Greek Philosophy and I also had an interest in Homer and Classical Athens. Further, I intended to study Philosophy and Psychology and just take a couple courses offered by the Classics department in order to have some fun. After my first semester, taking two courses in the Classics department, I knew that I wanted to major in the Classics. So I switched my Psychology Major to a Minor and double Majored in Classics and Philosophy. Since that switch, I have been taking Latin and Greek, as well as Ancient Philosophy Courses, courses on Greek Heroism, Ancient History Courses, and Ancient Gender Studies. Every course has been both interesting and exciting in its own way. I have enjoyed my time at Hopkins as a Classics Major so much that I have decided to apply to Graduate school for the Classics. I intend to apply for many competitive National and International Scholarships in order to get funding to study specific aspects of Classical History at one of the top Classics Graduate Programs in the world.

Acropolis Credit: http://www.greece-athens.com/place.php?place_id=1


Click here to access more information about the Classics Undergraduate Program of Study.

To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective and the Classics question thread.



Name: Leigh Lieberman

Year: Class of 2007

Hometown: Delray Beach, FL

Major: Classics

Many students take Latin classes in high school. It kills two birds with one stone: studying the language both fulfills a course requirement and helps improve your English vocabulary for those daunting standardized tests that everyone takes in order to get into college. But, while many are exposed to the dead language at an early age, few think of turning it into career. I was one of the lucky few. I knew upon arriving in Baltimore back in the fall of 2002 that I’d be taking advantage of the many resources that the Department of Classics has to offer, even though I wasn’t fully aware of how those resources would really shape the rest of my life.

Archaeology For students that have an interest in learning ancient languages, JHU offers both Latin and Greek classes for both the beginner and the advanced student. Having taken three years of Latin in high school, I fell somewhere in between, so I started out with Intermediate Latin, and during my first semester, we read Cicero’s speeches on Catiline while still focusing on strengthening our grammar and vocabulary. I wasn’t just learning out of a text book, as I would have been in an elementary course, nor was I expected to have every use of the ablative mastered, as I would later be in my advanced courses. Enjoying my experience in Latin classes during my first year, I decided to start with Elementary Greek during my sophomore year. With both languages under my belt, I had a good foundation with which to read any primary text my professors threw at me.

In addition to improving my language skills in my Cicero course, my professor also made sure to expose us to the culture and lifestyle of the individuals we were reading about. Here’s where my academic career hit its first hiccup. I had really disliked history courses in high school, and I struggled my way through my requirements so that I wouldn’t have to take any during my senior year. However, in college, I began to realize how necessary an understanding of ancient history and culture are to the study of ancient languages. Knowing a little bit about the period in which the people were writing and the habits of the characters and writers themselves really helps to put things into a context that can lead to a better understanding of the material. With this in mind, I dove head first into a variety of the history and culture courses that the Department of Classics offered, including Introduction to Roman Law; Greek Mythology; Religion, Music, and Society in Ancient Greek Culture; and Roman Laughter, just to name a few. Although I focused primarily on cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, I was able to complement my interests by taking a course on the Near Eastern Epic of Gilgamesh, and an art history course that covered the city of Rome from antiquity to modern times.

With all the course work I’d taken regarding the ancient world, the one thing I lacked was personal experience with the places and peoples I’d been reading about for so long in textbooks. Hopkins strongly encourages students majoring or minoring in classics to take advantage of the many study abroad and independent research opportunities that offer Col students a better understanding of the ancient world. During the summer before my senior year, I received a Provost’s Undergraduate Research Award to study the development of ancient theatrical practices and their impact on modern performance techniques. With this grant, I was able to travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Sackler Gallery at Harvard in order to explore the collections and talk to experts in the field. Furthermore, I was able to spend a month in Athens visiting important archaeological sites and museums while I developed my thesis further. Upon the completion of my project, I was able to present a poster in a university-wide undergraduate research symposium, as well as produce my own Ancient Greek play, Euripides’ Cyclops, with the help of both the Department of Classics and Homewood Arts Programs. Overall, this experience gave me my first tastes of advanced independent study and travel. The following semester, I continued to pursue the latter in choosing to study at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome. Now with facilities in both DSCF0553Rome and Catania, this program not only allowed me access to so many wonderful resources throughout the Italian peninsula, but also introduced me to some fabulous friends who shared my academic interests. Some of my colleagues and professors from my semester abroad are still wonderful contacts today, both personally and academically. While the ICCS Program focuses on ancient life in the Western Mediterranean, the College Year in Athens Program is a wonderful outlet for students interested in any ancient or modern studies of the Hellenic world.

Upon returning to Hopkins the spring of my senior year, I knew that my time abroad had changed my academic interests in a significant way. I still loved reading Greek and Latin, and I still loved putting the literature into its proper historical framework, but I also loved stuff. I loved the fact that every monument I had seen on site, every pot I had seen on display, every inscription I had seen on a wall, had once been discovered by modern scholars, and I came to appreciate the sort of information you could glean from studying the material culture of ancient civilizations. I soon started working in the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Collection as a curatorial assistant, and I also served as the Hall Fellow in Ancient Art at The Walters Art Museum in downtown Baltimore. Holding these two positions, I was able to research various objects in both collections and came to understand how difficult and rewarding such investigations are. I decided to stay at Hopkins for a fifth year so that I might pursue a master’s degree, during which I researched and wrote about how the material culture of Poseidonia, a Greek colony in Southern Italy, reflected its religious atmosphere. This independent project really allowed me to further define my academic interests in the broad field of Classics.

All in all, The Department of Classics at JHU provided me with a strong foundation for continuing in academia. With a thorough background in both Latin and Greek, and a well-rounded knowledge of the ancient Mediterranean world, my transition into the field of Classical art and archaeology has been smooth. As a second year in a PhD program, I have been able to travel back to Greece and Italy several times for research, and I currently spend my summers in the dirt, excavating at Pompei. Although my interests have developed slightly from their humble beginnings in my high school Latin classroom, the faculty members at Hopkins offered me guidance and support through it all; if you come in to the Department of Classics somewhat interested, extremely enthusiastic, or utterly undecided, they’ll be sure to do the same for you.


Click here to access more information about the Classics Undergraduate Program of Study.

To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective and the Classics question thread.