Monthly Archives: August 2008

Creative director William Whelan takes RU Classics website one step beyond

It may be the world’s first exploding pyxis.

And that’s just the start of the surprises on the new Rutgers Classics website, unveiled 22 August 2008.

The creator? William Whelan, head of d-stroy advertising, a one-stop creative consulting firm based in Miami. Whelan’s clients have included Volkswagen, Citibank, Home Depot, Sprite, Heineken, Cingular, Qwest—even Yahoo.

Whelan’s work has earned him many of the most coveted juried prizes in advertising and new media, including numerous Francis W. Hatch Awards from Boston’s Ad Club, multiple awards from the One Club in its One Show Interactive competition, Grand Prize in the London International Advertising Awards, and a Grand Clio and a Gold Clio in the prestigious Clio Award festival.

On the new RU Classics web site, Whelan deploys Flash animation to make strikingly innovative use of images from the Department’s large visual studies collection. He even composed original music that plays under the home page as it loads.

(If you’re not getting the pages above and below via the http://classics.rutgers.edu link, but rather the old “terracotta” site, try clearing your web browser’s cache.)

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From Belgica to Baghdad, RU Classics digital project nears end

And for yet another unique Rutgers Classics resource…a five year teaching initiative on the visual culture of the ancient world. This project started in 2003 and is now nearing completion.

Here RU Classics has transformed its collection of 16000 35mm slides and almost 1000 lantern slides into archival quality digital images ready for use by faculty and students in Powerpoint or web-based presentations.

Above: sorting pottery from the Stoa Gutter Well of the Athenian Agora excavations

These images include all aspects of material culture in antiquity. The Rutgers Classics digital collection is awash in vase paintings, landscapes, murals, statues, and monuments from prehistoric to early medieval periods. The regions represented stretch from ancient Britain to Egypt and Spain to Afghanistan, with a focus on the Mediterranean basin. Since the images reflect the work of many decades, they often provide distinctive views and diagrams of archaeological sites before and after reconstruction processes

The bulk of these slides represent on-site, original photographs by scholars such as Rutgers professores emeriti Jack Cargill (History) and Christoph Clairmont (Classics), or longtime University of Michigan professor and (later) ACLS president John D’Arms.

There are several sub-collections, ranging from a large group of glass lantern slides dating to the 1920s and 1930s, to an unusually valuable set of photos of inscriptions honoring Roman medical women, compiled by Zoë Perkins (Bryn Mawr ’97). The basic metadata markup for all the Rutgers Classics digital holdings will be complete by October 2008.

Above, tombstone of a medica from Metz, probably 1st century AD (CIL 13.4334) INI FIL MEDICA

Some of the most striking items in the collection are images of Israel, Iraq and Iran taken by Christoph Clairmont in the 1950s and 1960s.

Above: pottery in the Baghdad Museum, photographed probably in the mid-1950s.

And here is the really exciting bit.

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Rediscovered at RU: lantern slides shed new light on women in archaeology

And so long as we’re talking about unique Rutgers Classics resources…

Above: “The House of Paris”, Troy 1935

The Rutgers Classics lantern slide collection consists of almost 1000 original exposures taken in the 1930s as part of archaeological research done in Italy, Greece, and Turkey, by faculty members of the New Jersey College for Women—now known as Douglass College.

Above (all from 1935): NJC group examines the one remaining column of the Temple of Hera at Samos; an archaeological worker spins at Delphi; noontime musicians at Delphi; veiled woman at Rhodes.

The collection—now completely digitized—provides a glimpse into the NJC academic and teaching culture of the 1930s, as well as American women in archaeology in the pre-World War II era.

Above, from 1935: Lion Gate at Mycenae; remains of the Servian Wall in Rome.

For instance, one of the main figures in the making of these images is Evalyn A. Clark, then an assistant professor at NJC.

Above (from 1926, second from right), Evalyn Clark as a Johns Hopkins graduate student in Classics. TRS Broughton is second from left.

As a direct result of these travels, it seems, Clark retooled herself at Harvard and Columbia as a historian of modern nationalism. Soon afterward, in 1939, Clark—having left New Jersey to join the Vassar faculty—went on to co-found the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians.

For the dramatic story of how these images came into being, and then reemerged after a half-century or more of neglect, see this article in the 20 February 2006 issue of Rutgers Focus.

Above: New Jersey College for Women faculty on the ascent, 1935.

At RU Classics, sculptor Evelyn Wilson’s ‘Homerica’ in terracotta

Perhaps you were wondering about that Odysseus tied to the mast on our blog header.

Well, it comes from “The Iliad and the Odyssey” by Evelyn O. Wilson (1915-2006). That’s a narrative group of more than two dozen grey terracotta sculptures, each about sixteen inches in height, executed in the early 1990s.

These works, along with paintings by the sculptor’s husband, noted American artist Ben Wilson (1913-2001), have been on permanent display in the RU Classics department since 2006.

The artists’ daughter, Joanne Wilson Jaffe, and the Ben and Evelyn Wilson Foundation, gave Rutgers Classics this unusually generous gift.

In fact, Rutgers-New Brunswick is building a rich collection of Wilsoniana, with other pieces by the two artists in its Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, its Art Library, and (most recently) in the lobby of its Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.

There’s a short film entitled “The Turbulent Ground” that Florida fine arts and antiques dealer Don Elder has made about Ben Wilson. “It’s terrific”, said Joanne Jaffe, “and offers rare insight into Ben’s thinking and paintings.” Wilson was a painter of the Abstract Expressionist school and a veteran of the WPA.

But of the Homeric sculptures at Rutgers Classics, why not let Evelyn Wilson tell the story in her own words?

As it happens, Rutgers was to receive also the Canterbury Tales and Mother Goose cycles. But keep reading–we’ve only just started!

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For RU Classics, a teaching collection of Roman Republican coins

Rutgers has an extraordinary collection of Roman Republican coins which is housed in its Alexander Library Special Collections and University Archives. At present it numbers about 750 individual pieces; in time, as a result of an ongoing gift, it will grow to more than double that amount. The Rutgers collection is remarkable for its comprehensiveness, historical value, and the fine condition of most of its individual pieces.

Above: Bronze (unworked) Aes Rude, 5th through 3rd centuries BC. Weight: 481 gm. Size: 78 x 65 x 24 mm.

It was in 2001 that an unusually generous anonymous benefaction brought these coins to Rutgers. The gift of this collection, which had been acquired with an expert eye and much continued effort over many decades, almost overnight made RU an important center for teaching (and, in time, research) in this area.

Above: Bronze (cast) Uncia 280-276 BC. Knucklebone seen from outside; beside */*. Weight: 23.55 gm. Size: 27 mm. Sydenham 13; Crawford 14/6

Since 2001 use of the Rutgers Republican Roman coin collection has been restricted to undergraduate and graduate courses in Classics.

But in fall 2005 Rutgers hosted an exhibition which was the first public display of these coins; Rutgers University Libraries published a 72 page catalogue to accompany the show. The exhibition had as its major themes the evolution of the technical aspects of coinage in the earlier Republic, and political and social developments that are reflected in Rome’s money during the period down to 91 BC, the start of Rome’s “Social War” against its Italian allies, and with it, a new era in the coinage.

Above left: AR Denarius 137 BC.

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Welcoming new Classics faculty (3): Emily Allen


Emily Allen was born in the United States but raised in Paris, where she studied at the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Sorbonne. She then went to Harvard to pursue a PhD in Classical Philology. She joins the Rutgers Classics faculty in the fall of 2009.

Her dissertation is a study of the representations of pain, both physical and mental, in archaic and classical Greek poetry and culture. This year she will be gearing up to defend her thesis before a French “jury” at the Sorbonne.

Allen has given several papers on both Greek and Latin literature, including at the APA in 2006, 2007 and 2008. This fall, she has been invited to give papers on pain and tragedy at McGill and the Ecole Normale Supérieure. She is also currently working on the first translation into English of August W. Schlegel’s Comparaison entre la Phèdre de Racine et celle d’Euripide, as a contributor to a project directed by Donald Mastronarde (UC Berkeley)

This summer she spent a few sun-drenched weeks in the hills just outside of ancient Olympia, teaching a course on “The Ancient Greeks and the Other” for Harvard’s Summer School, and exploring a few sites of the Peloponnese, including the beautiful Venetian fortress of Methoni and the palace of Nestor at Pylos.