Monthly Archives: June 2008

Michael Sobota ’03, ’08: from Mason Gross to Morningside Heights

When it comes to “double majors”, it’s hard to top Michael Sobota ’08.

Sobota graduated from Rutgers this May in Classics (Greek and Latin option) with a minor in Art History. This 2008 bachelor’s degree is his second from Rutgers, the first being a B.M. with a major in French Horn Performance awarded by Mason Gross School of the Arts in 2003.

This September Sobota starts graduate study as a doctoral candidate in Columbia University’s interdisciplinary Classical Studies program. He aims to use his background in classical philology, music and art history to work toward “a comprehensive social understanding of antiquity”.

During his time at Rutgers’ Mason Gross School, Sobota played french horn in as many performance ensembles as possible: orchestra, wind ensemble, brass ensemble, horn quartet, wind quintet, brass quintet.

“When I came back to Rutgers full-time in September of 2005 to start the second degree,” Sobota recalls, “I played in the wind ensemble for one semester. But when I found myself studying Greek verb flashcards during a recording session, I realized I couldn’t maintain a serious commitment to both performing and Classics beyond that fall.” Still Michael performs in New Jersey as a much sought-after freelancer.

Sobota received a Rutgers College scholarship to attend the Rutgers Summer Study in Greece program in 2006. He also won a scholarship and grant from Rutgers’ Aresty Undergraduate Research Foundation to complete a Henry Rutgers Honors Thesis in 2008 entitled “Greek Lyric: Socio-political Reflections from the Archaic through Classical Periods,” under the direction of Professor Thomas J. Figueira.

So far this summer? “I spent a week in Sicily, with highlights including a visit to the Greek temples at Selinunte, seeing the sculptures in the Archaeological Museum in Palermo, and viewing medieval churches and palaces in the province of Trapani.”

David Danbeck ’08 and his journal The Pinax move to Yale

He sold cars at a Honda dealership, had a career in hotel management (night auditor), and has popped up here and there as an author, exhibited photographer, and musician (playing pretty much everything).

David Danbeck (Rutgers ’08) also founded a new venue for the dissemination of classical scholarship, The Pinax: A Journal of Classical Studies. Danbeck and his journal are soon to move to New Haven, where this September he will start graduate studies in Classics at Yale University.

The Pinax is a refereed journal published online twice yearly and consists of scholarship, reviews and opinion—all written by undergraduates. The inaugural January ’08 issue featured articles written by juniors and seniors at Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard (bis), Rutgers, and Stanford.

As for its scope, “The Pinax publishes papers on all topics concerning the history and legacy of ancient mediterranean culture”, writes Danbeck. “The Journal is committed to fostering an environment which is conducive to the open exchange of ideas among emerging scholars in all disciplines which inform our knowledge of Graeco-Roman culture.”

Danbeck himself focuses on Greek literature, “especially anything but the 5th/early 4th c… [I’m] wed to Archaic, flirt with Hellenistic, salivate over Imperial and Byzantine.” At Rutgers Danbeck completed the requirements for two separate Classics majors, in Greek and in Latin literature, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with highest departmental honors.

His Rutgers BA thesis treated the later reception of the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women in the poetry of Gregory of Nazianzus. And he long has been at work on a new edition of the Catalogue, freshly examining and collating the relevant manuscripts and papyri. Danbeck lists as his “current obsessions: ‘Hesiodic poetry’, epithalamia, Fracastoro’s Alcon, and teaching my cat Henry to meow [Charlie Mingus’] ‘Nostalgia in Times Square‘ (a hint: you can teach your cat a tune by whistling).”

Welcoming new Classics faculty (2): Serena Connolly

Serena Connolly is delighted to be returning to Rutgers this Fall!

She is a graduate of Cambridge (BA 1998) and Yale (PhD 2004), where she taught for three years before coming to Rutgers Classics in 2007 as a visiting assistant professor. This September Serena starts a continuing appointment in the department.

Connolly has just completed her book manuscript, in which she explores the social, political and legal significance of the system of petition and response, and she’s hoping for publication in 2009.

This summer she is editing part of a previously unpublished translation of the Codex Justinianus as a contributor to a project directed by Bruce Frier (University of Michigan).

She also plans to continue work on a new project, the first book-length examination of the Disticha Catonis—an Imperial collection of Latin aphorisms—in their classical context.

Serena has been enjoying spending June in the heat of the East coast, but will soon be heading to Norway, where she will experience for the first time hiking in the land of the midnight sun.

RU visiting researcher Stefan Schorn wins Leuven post

Rutgers Classics has been lucky to host Stefan Schorn, a visiting research scholar in the Department in residence from November 2007 till October 2008. He is funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and hosted by former von Humboldt fellow (and Rutgers professor emeritus in Classics) William F. Fortenbaugh.

Schorn studied Classics at the Universities of Bamberg (Germany) and Rome and has been working afterwards as a research assistant and an assistant professor at the Universities of Bamberg and Würzburg.

During his stay at Rutgers, Schorn is working on a commentary on the fragments of Theophrastus’ work On Piety. “This is a great and complex text”, explains Schorn, “because it combines history of religion, literature, philosophy and mentalities. So work never gets boring. I have always loved to work on fragmentary texts since the days of my dissertation when I edited the fragments of the biographer Satyrus. As a research scholar I have all the time I need. And I have Bill Fortenbaugh—the foremost specialist of Theophrastus—to discuss it with (and someone to correct the English of my commentary).”

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RU Classics faculty update: T.J. Figueira

And what is Rutgers’ senior ancient historian up to these days? A lot, as it so happens.

Among other recent publications, Thomas Figueira draws the attention of his readers to the long-delayed, but now imminent, appearance of his study on 5th- and 4th-century colonization, “Classical Greek Colonization,” forthcoming in A History of Greek Colonisation and Settlement Overseas, G.R. Tsetskhladze, editor (E.J. Brill, Leiden) 427-524.

He continues his collaboration with his younger sister, D.M. Figuiera, the noted comparatist, in a series of papers and contributions on critical theory, including 2007 appearances at the XVIIIth Congress of the International Comparative Literature Association in Rio de Janeiro and at the conference Sparta in Comparative Perspective, Ancient to Modern: History, historiography and classical tradition in Nottingham.

Figueira will give two papers in Cork, Eire (at the International Sparta Seminar and the Celtic Congress of Classical Studies) in July, and, next year, will speak at the Philadelphia 2009 APA Annual Meeting, and at conferences in Liverpool and at Corinth.

In Rutgers notes, Figueira will be representing the School of Arts and Sciences (New Brunswick) in the Rutgers University Senate, and continues his participation in the RU Honors program under colleague Dean Sarolta Takács.

He calls everyone’s attention to the recent completion of Ancient History themed dissertations by Andrew Scott and Gregory Golden (Corey Brennan supervising), and wishes to convey his warmest appreciations to Corey and Leah Kronenberg for their efforts resulting in the addition of Timothy Power, Serena Connolly, and Emily Allen as tenure-track Classics colleagues. (Many thanks to you too, Tom! Ed]

Hicks presents paper at St. Andrews

Fourth year RU Classics grad student Ben Hicks recently sojourned in Scotland, where he gave a paper at Identity, Representation And The Principate AD 14-68. The conference ran from 18-21 June 2008 and was sponsored by Dr. Alisdair Gibson of St. Andrews University.

Hicks’ paper, entitled “‘Unfortunate Rather than Wicked’: Failure to Communicate in the De Legatione ad Gaium,” explored the failure of Philo’s embassy to the emperor Gaius through the use of speech act theory.

The conference drew scholars of the early Principate from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany.

Benjamin Hicks is a native of North Carolina, having received his BA from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. He is currently beginning work on a dissertation focusing on imperial consilia and decision-making.

Hicks also will be presenting a paper entitled “Evocatio Imagery in Tacitus’ Histories 4.83-84” in Philadelphia at the 140th Annual Meeting of the American Philological Association (January 2009).

RU Classics faculty updates: Kronenberg, Brennan

Just in case you were wondering…

Assistant professor Leah Kronenberg has spent the past year on sabbatical with a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.

She has completed work on a book manuscript that will appear with Cambridge University Press entitled Fables of Farming from Greece and Rome: Allegory and Satire in the Agricultural Works of Xenophon, Varro and Virgil.

Kronenberg also has begun researching a new book-length project entitled Gods and Monsters: Roman Representations of Epicureanism. She will continue work on this project next year with a fellowship from the Loeb Classical Library Foundation.

Associate professor T. Corey Brennan has just finished his second three-year term as department chair, and in 2008/9 will serve as acting chair of Classics at Rutgers. This summer he continues work on his main book project, a group biography of elite women in the Roman Republic, and starts a new study, examining sexual stereotypes in antiquity.

Recent book chapters (appeared or forthcoming) treat Roman dress in North Africa, the limitations of ancient diplomacy, and (for a new supplement to the Cambridge History of China edited by M. Loewe and M. Nylan) a comparison of ancient Rome and the Han capital Chang’an.

This past January Brennan began a two year term as president of the Society of Fellows of the American Academy in Rome, and with it, ex officio membership on the AAR board of trustees. He maintains a weblog of SOF activities here.