Summer Seminar Testimonials

The Summer Seminars, 18-day sessions exploring specific topics in Greece through visits to major monuments with exceptional scholars as study leaders, were introduced in 2017 to great success.

Participants in the 2017 Summer Seminars share their reflections on the experience below. The two Seminars offered during 2017 were Greek Sculpture Up Close with Mark Fullerton of Ohio State University, and while Myth on Site with Christina Salowey of Hollins University 


Sara Hales
Syllecta Classica Editorial Assistant and Graduate Student, Department of Classics
University of Iowa
(Greek Sculpture Up Close)

As part of our visit to Santorini, our group was allowed a unique opportunity to spend an hour with an unpublished, nearly-complete Archaic kore and the scholar working on her. By that point in the seminar (nearly halfway through), I'd already seen and learned a great deal about works and places I'd never expected to see first-hand, but not even my first trip to the Athenian Agora was quite so magical as entering a museum workroom that was totally empty, except for this unexpectedly beautiful kore gazing calmly at us. It was like seeing the entire Greek world for the first time, understanding with new eyes how important ancient art is to any study of the ancient world.

Since my own development in Classics has been quite text-heavy, the opportunity to spend 18 intense days focusing on Greek sculpture with some of the best art historians the field has to offer was truly broadening for me. I continue to revisit that kore in my memory, and because of my American School Summer Seminar experience, I am looking for ways to incorporate art history and material remains into my work on ekphrasis [literary description of a work of art] and other descriptions of women in Late Antique texts.

Jeanna Cook
Graduate Student, Department of Classics, Boston College
Classics Department Head, St. Mark’s School
(Myth on Site)

As a teacher of high school students, I wanted gain a better understanding of the relationship between Greek mythology and ancient culture, and to be more intentional about addressing the application of myth in the ancient world with my classes.

What I did not know until I was there—until I felt the first raindrops of Zeus' storm over his sanctuary on Mt. Lykaion or dipped my toes into ocean water lapping at the Gates to Hades at Taenaron—was the way in which myth tells the story of place, not just people. I could not have anticipated the way in which the smell of wild mint underfoot in the Valley of the Muses or the sound of buzzing cicadas on the citadel at Thebes would reveal the human experience from which myth derives. As it turns out, landscapes can tell stories both mythical and historical.
The sense of place that I gained in Greece this summer challenges the distinction between these two realms.

My colleagues in the seminar and our fearless leader, Dr. Salowey, could have been mistaken for heroes on an epic quest. We scaled walls and hiked along ridges. We refreshed ourselves with bubbling spring water and picked fresh fruit off the tree. We saw the sun go down over ancient sanctuaries and we woke up early to greet the rosy-fingered dawn. The seminar offered the opportunity to build an affinity for ancient people that can only come from walking in their landscape.

Konstantinos Karathanasis
Graduate Student, Department of Classics
Washington University in St. Louis
(Greek Sculpture Up Close)

The Greek Sculpture Up Close seminar was a fulcrum point for the expansion of my understanding of the ancient Greek world. As a philologist, I did not have ample opportunities to explore the material culture of Greece, and this summer seminar was a splendid one.
Being born and raised in Greece, I had the opportunity to visit plenty of archaeological sites in the past out of personal interest. However, this was the first time I had the opportunity to visit and closely examine these sites from an art historical perspective. This experience introduced me to a whole new way of viewing the cultural heritage of my country. It provided a stellar opportunity to be guided through the interconnectivity of aesthetics in Greek statuary by distinguished scholars in the field, such as Prof. Mark Fullerton.
Throughout travel in the Cyclades and southern Greece, we were able to take a really close look at Greek statuary, exploring questions of origin, context, and function, as well as how Athens imported, adopted, advanced, and exported the sculpting styles of her neighboring islanders. Exploring the political significance of statuary provided unique insights into the distinct political dimension of all things artistic in the Greek world.

Marisa Vitulli
Undergraduate Student, Batten Scholar
Hollins University
(Myth on Site)

As a double major in both classics and creative writing, I acknowledge and respect the power that story held for the ancients. Still, I have always wondered about the inspiration for these narratives, about the elements of the Greeks’ lives which prompted their traditions, artistic representations, and cult practice. It was only once I saw the strength of the perennial river, twisting green and blue under the bridge at my feet that I realized why the Greeks personified the Acheloos as a mighty shapeshifter among Pan and the nymphs. When I saw the wind move the green reeds of the Stymphalian fields, scattering the birds, and learned about the natural flooding and draining of its lakes, I understood the inspiration for Herakles' sixth labor. And as I hiked the desolate rocky hills of Tainaron and scrambled through the grove that had swallowed an ancient entrance to Hades, I agreed with the ancient historians: this spot could house a death oracle.

Our incredible director, Dr. Salowey, made myth come alive as we hiked, swam, and, in some cases, tripped over the landscapes of Greece. In private tours led by site directors and masters of the classics field, we explored active sites like Mt. Lykaion, the Athenian Agora, Corinth, Nemea, and Sounion. As well, I learned details of motifs, artifacts, and background mythology not just from our leader but also from the rest of our group, a diverse and well-rounded collection of teachers, professors, and graduate students, as we compiled presentations and bibliographies for each stop. In the end, I walked away from this seminar not only with resources and notes for many of the major sites in Greece, but also with priceless memories, friendships within the classics community, and a better understanding of the power setting has to inspire story.

Laura Hutchison
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Classics
Johns Hopkins University
(Greek Sculpture Up Close)

Greek Sculpture Up Close offered the unique opportunity to study and discuss the origins of Greek sculpture beyond the pages of Greek art textbooks. Our “classroom” was in fact many disparate archaeological sites and museums that feature the earliest evidence of monumental stone sculpture. The nature of our American School trips made it possible to travel to a huge number of sites and museums, including Panhellenic sanctuaries and Cycladic islands, in a brief three-week period.

The experience impressed in me a better understanding of the distances between popular production centers and the contexts in which these sculptures were displayed. We saw many stunning works, but the unfinished Dionysos in the Apollonas quarry on Naxos took my breath away. My first encounter with the Dionysos is indicative of my overall experience in the Summer Seminar: I felt as though I was meeting an old friend and, simultaneously, had stumbled upon some entirely new and strange remnant of antiquity. The course provided me a deeper breadth of knowledge for teaching ancient Greek sculpture and endless research questions for the future.

Martha Payne
Visiting Lecturer, Department of World Languages and Cultures
Indiana University–Purdue University, Indianapolis
(Myth on Site)

The Myth on Site seminar was a wonderful experience that allowed me to revisit some sites and become acquanited with new ones. Seeing the Underworld site in Tanairon for the first time allowed me to provide further information to my mythology students in studying the Underworld episode of The Odyssey. Hiking around the Athenian Acropolis introduced me to several cult caves, while the the trip to Aegina allowed me to experience the site of Zeus Panellenion. In Dimitsana, we visited the Open-Air Water Power Museum and its tannery, fulling mill, and still for making tsipouro from the skins of pressed grapes.

The photographs I took at these sites have proven extremely useful in teaching classes on myth and Greek history, while sharing the provided bibliography with my students has helped them in preparing their final research essays. It was also especially gratifying to get to know the other participants; heartening to see that Classics is alive and well among the younger generation, and good to know that American School folks are as intrepid as ever in investigating unusual and fascinating places!

Velvet Yates
Distance Learning Director, Department of Classics
University of Florida
(Greek Sculpture Up Close)

The Greek Sculpture Up Close seminar led by Mark Fullerton made possible a pilgrimage to the islands in order to see the sculptures there in person. Not only did visiting these places provide context for labels like 'Naxian' or 'Parian,' but seeing the sites and works in person makes one realize the inadequacy of pictures in a book.

I've seen plenty of photos of the Apollonas colossus on Naxos, but being there was wholly different. Only by standing near, around, and beside the statue, and surveying the site layout, could I begin to appreciate the enormous effort of extricating the colossus from the surrounding rock. I am considering this statue in particular in my research on stone carving and quarrying methods, utilizing the observations made during the seminar visit.

I am also sharing the knowledge gained from this seminar in a graduate course I'm currently teaching: Greek and Roman Sculpture Methods. Many thanks to the American School, Dr. Fullerton, and my fellow seminar students for such an enriching experience!