‘Rutgers Rome Stories': RU Classics and Center for Digital Filmmaking join forces, produce four student-directed films on Eternal City


Production still from ‘The Princess of Piombino’, filmed at the famed Villa Aurora in Rome (site of ancient Gardens of Sallust), home of Prince Nicolo’ and Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi. Directed and filmed by Sean Feuer ’14 and Adam Nawrot ’14; co-directors Gabriela Elise ’15 and Shaodi Huang ’16

Rutgers Rome Stories is a student-directed series of four films, each of which seeks to animate an aspect of the idea of the Eternal City. You can see the projects—two theatrical trailers for feature-length documentaries to be released in 2015/6, and two short documentaries now complete—at the website classics.rutgers.edu/rome-stories.

Here Rutgers undergraduate filmmakers explore a Papal family’s efforts to preserve their iconic urban villa (The Princess of Piombino); the memories of an Italian princess whose father invented radio (My Father, Electromagnetic); the reflections of a legendary Italian director and producer of film and opera on the creative process (Zeffirelli); and that of a Baltimore hair stylist who unlocks a fashion secret of the ancient Romans (The Hair Archaeologist: Janet Stephens). Continue reading

Rutgers Classics hosts 5th annual GreekFest, highlighting [Euripides’] ‘Rhesus’


GreekFest 2015 organizer Rutgers Classics professor Emily Allen-Hornblower opens the proceedings. Credit: Ella Wallace

On the brisk and sunny morning of Friday 6 March 2015, following yet another major snowstorm, groups of graduate students in Classics from Columbia University, New York University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University braved delays and mild chaos at New York, Philadelphia, and Princeton’s train and bus stations in order to make their way to New Brunswick and meet up with their peers from Rutgers’ Classics department at Brower Commons on College Avenue.

The goal? To spend the day examining Rhesus, a highly unusual and intriguing play traditionally attributed to Euripides but now thought to have been composed in the late 4th century BCE.

This annual gathering was part of an ongoing tradition known as GreekFest; its counterpart, the Corridor LatinFest, was hosted by NYU in the fall. These annual gatherings bring together graduate students from all five universities—along with some of their faculty—to look at a (collectively chosen) minor ancient (Greek or Latin) text. Continue reading

‘The Hair Archaeologist': Rutgers student film profiles Janet Stephens and her rereading of Roman portraiture

Talk about taking it to the next level. Over the past year and a half the Rutgers Department of Classics (School of Arts & Sciences) and Rutgers Center for Digital Filmmaking (Mason Gross School of the Arts) have been collaborating on four separate student-directed films that treat the idea of Rome from one angle or another.

Here’s one of them: The Hair Archaeologist. In this short-format documentary film SAS student Jenny Kim ’16 with the help of John Riggio ’16 offer up a five and a half minute profile of noted experimental archaeologist Janet Stephens.  Continue reading

On Thursday 23 October 2014: RU Classics hosts CIC graduate conference “Ancient Adornment”


The Department of Classics at Rutgers University is pleased to announce Ancient Adornment, the first Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) graduate student conference on the ancient world. The one-day conference will be held on Thursday 23 October in Brower Commons (145 College Avenue) on Rutgers’ New Brunswick Campus.

This interdisciplinary conference on personal adornment in the ancient Mediterranean world offers an opportunity for graduate students in a wide spectrum of disciplines from participating CIC universities to exchange ideas and explore topics of broad interest—in this case, the modalities and significance of antique personal adornment. The graduate students of Rutgers Classics are organizing the conference, led by David Wright and Scott Barnard.

ANCIENT ADORNMENT SCHEDULE (THURSDAY 23 OCTOBER) [all sessions in Brower Commons Rooms A + B (second floor)]. Please note revised schedule for Paper Session II, to accommodate campus-wide union-organized protests (scheduled 12.30-1.30) at Rutgers.

8.45am Registration and coffee

9.30-11.00 PAPER SESSION I   Chair: Brian Hill (Rutgers)

T. Corey Brennan (Rutgers University, faculty), “Body Signs in Classical Antiquity: The Case of Baldness”

Laurie Porstner (Rutgers University), “The Agris Helmet from Iron Age Votive Deposit to Cultural Icon”

11.30-12.15, 1.45-2.30 PAPER SESSION II   Chair: Isaiah Clough (Rutgers)

(11.30) Emily Mohr (University of Maryland), “Deceptive Adornment in Euripides’ Helen and Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazousai

[12.15-1.45 BREAK]

(1.45) Adam Kozak (University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana), “The Adornment of Identity in Martial’s Epigrams

2.30-4.30 PAPER SESSION III   Chair: Katheryn Whitcomb (Rutgers)

Rob Santucci (University of Maryland), “De Togis Perlucentibus: A Senecan Guide to Men’s Fashion”

Jessica Wells (University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana), “Adornment in the Epithalamia of Late Antiquity”

5 PM KEYNOTE PRESENTATION   Introduction: David Wright (Rutgers)

Janet Stephens (Baltimore, MD) “Truthy or Falsish: Sculpting the Language of Ancient Roman Hair” (with demonstration)

The conference will be free and open to the public, but pre-registration at cicruclassics2014@gmail.com is encouraged to ensure participation. A reception follows the conference.

Noted experimental archaeologist Janet Stephens will deliver the keynote presentation to close the conference on the evening (5 PM) of Thursday 23 October 2014. Stephens has published her pioneering work on ancient hairdressing techniques in the Journal of Roman Archaeology and Journal of Experimental Archaeology, and seen her studies featured by the Wall Street Journal, NPR and the BBC.


Ancient Adornment keynote speaker Janet Stephens. Credit: BBC News Magazine

Why this conference? The study of ancient personal adornment opens lines of inquiry into a vast array of cultural, socio-political, and literary spheres. In antiquity, a person’s dress, hairstyle, cosmetics, jewelry, armor, religious accoutrements, and other accessories centrally contributed to their role in society and cultural symbolic capital.

Iconographic representations of personal adornment are found in every imaginable artistic medium. And many ancient writers specifically treated the topic, ranging from Ovid to Tertullian to Synesius. Of course, numerous objects associated with personal adornment have come down to us from antiquity.

Especially in the last decade, there has been much new interest in both recovering the realities and exploring the social functions of Greek and Roman dress and adornment. This area still, however, lends itself to much further study from historical, literary, archaeological, and art historical perspectives.

For questions about the conference, please contact David Wright (djw167@scarletmail.rutgers.edu).


Headquartered in the Midwest, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) is an academic consortium of fifteen top-tier research universities, including the members of the Big Ten and the University of Chicago. Its members, in addition to Chicago, are the University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Iowa, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Rutgers University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

For more than half a century, these world-class research institutions have advanced their academic missions, generated unique opportunities for students and faculty, and served the common good by sharing expertise, leveraging campus resources, and collaborating on innovative programs. Governed and funded by the Provosts of the member universities, CIC mandates are coordinated by a staff from its Champaign, Illinois headquarters. The CIC welcomed the University of Maryland and Rutgers University to membership on 1 July 2013, a year previous to the schools’ admittance to the Big Ten in 2014.

On 14 November 2013, Dylan Bloy (Brooklyn) illustrates the Rutgers archaeological field school at Vacone (Italy)

Tempus fugit! For the Rutgers Classics Graduate Student Association, it’s the third and final lecture of the fall semester. But what a lecture. At 5 PM on Thursday 13 November, Dr. Dylan Bloy will present on the topic of the “Rutgers Field School at Vacone: Purpose, Method, and Results.”  Ruth Adams Building (room 003) is the venue, on Rutgers’ post-autumnal Douglass Campus in New Brunswick. Needless to say, this event will be of special interest to any RU student aiming to acquire some experience in archaeological field methods and conservation techniques—or indeed, anyone interested in up-to-the-minute archaeological findings for later Republican and early imperial central Italy. Continue reading

At RU on Thurs 10 Oct 13, Barnard’s Nancy Worman addresses landscape aesthetics in ancient literature


Nicolas Pouissin’s Blind Orion Searching for the Rising Sun (1658). Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Here at Rutgers Classics, Thursday 10 October (5 PM) marks the first public lecture of the Fall 2013 term.  Ruth Adams Building (room 003) is the venue, on Rutgers’ leafy Douglass Campus in New Brunswick. And the host is the Department’s ever-active Graduate Student Association. The speaker? Nancy Worman, Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature in Barnard College and Columbia University. Professor Worman will present on “Dreams of Order: Landscape Aesthetics in Ancient Poetry and Literary Theory”. Continue reading

Where R they now? Chatting with Thomas J. Biggs’08 about Yale Classics, and beyond


Now here’s a blast from the (not so distant) past: over the weekend we had a chance to catch up with Thomas J. Biggs ’08, now on the verge of receiving his PhD degree from Yale University’s graduate program in Classics.

It’s been a full five years now that Tom graduated from Rutgers College summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and with Departmental honors, double majoring in English and Classics. As a Rutgers senior, Tom also received funding from the Aresty Research Center for Undergraduates to complete a memorable thesis, “Eunuchs and Castration Ritual in the Cult of the Great Mother.” Sarolta A. Takács, Professor of History at Rutgers, directed the work. Here’s an excerpt from our chat… Continue reading