An “Enriching” Undergraduate Research Workshop

The Sunoikisis consortium has presented an undergraduate symposium nearly every year since 2003. On Saturday, March 7, the Center for Hellenic Studies continued the tradition by hosting the 2015 Sunoikisis Undergraduate Research Symposium. The event featured the work of five undergraduates:

“Three of a Perfect Pair: The Fractured Feminine in Aristophanes’ Ecclesiazusae

Mason Johnson, Rhodes College

“Nostalgia Inverted: The Golden Age Motif in Strepsiades’ Pre-Dramatic History”

Elizabeth Ridgeway, University of Georgia

“Reexamining the Goddess ‘Roma’ on Republican Denarii”

Jacob Lichtblau, Franklin and Marshall College

“War and Peace in Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae

Jason Steranko, College of the Holy Cross

“Hyper-Partisanship and Scandal in the Late Roman Republic and Contemporary America”

Amy Laughlin, Agnes Scott College

Faculty mentors — Alexis Castor (Franklin and Marshall College), Kenny Morrell (Rhodes College), and Charles Platter (University of Georgia) — also attended along with Ryan Fowler (Franklin and Marshall College), Bryce Walker (Sweet Briar College), and the spring term fellows of the CHS.

For the first time, the symposium followed a workshop format in which the authors shared their research and received feedback in a roundtable discussion. Dr. Ryan Fowler, one of the event coordinators, found that the move from a presentation-based conference to a workshop-style symposium yielded

…one of the most collaborative, enriching experiences the organizers have experienced in a conference or presentation setting. Rather than 15-minute presentations and perhaps a few comments or a single question after each speaker (as is often the case at conferences), participants had a series of substantive discussions, during which students received ideas about the direction of their research, other alternative sources of evidence, and in some cases the style of presentation or argumentation.

The five students also received feedback in advance of the symposium on their abstracts, annotated bibliographies, and paper drafts. A week before the workshop, the authors pre-circulated their papers and, using CommentPress, faculty members and fellow participants started discussions online through annotations. If one student asked a question or pointed out a problem area in her own paper, other participants would reply with ideas and suggestions. The students’ familiarity with each others’ work set the stage for the fruitful discussion during the one-day workshop.

The Sunoikisis consortium will publish the students’ final papers in Sunoikisis Undergraduate Research Journal (ISSN 2373-5937). Please check back for updates this summer when Volume 3 of SURJ will become available.

All five papers in the 2015 symposium concerned Greek comedy or Latin literature of the Late Republic, topics which correspond to the fall 2014 Greek and Latin courses offered by Sunoikisis. Next year, in line with the 2015 Sunoikisis courses, the topics of the 2016 symposium will be 4th Century Greek Literature (Plato, in particular) and Neronian Literature.