Rome celebrated its 2,768th anniversary on April 21 with parades and fireworks, but it wasn't the only recognition of the birth of this city. Union College participates in an annual Undergraduate Research Conference in Classics or Parilia, a celebration of the founding of Rome, with
Skidmore College, Hamilton College and Colgate University.
This year, Union College hosted the conference at the Kelly Adirondack Center with the attendance of Hamilton College and Skidmore College Classics’ department professors and students. “It is always pleasurably instructive to compare notes with colleagues in one’s discipline. Our colleagues in Classics at Hamilton and Skidmore are an accomplished group. We compared notes on student research at our respective institutions as well as our own,” Professor Hans-Friedrich Mueller commented.
The conference’s agenda held three paper sessions, in which a student from each of the three colleges in attendance presented a research paper they were either currently working on or had finished. “The range of the papers was wide. I learned many things from, for example, how 1960s Hollywood films tried to recreate ancient music in their soundtracks to how ancient Romans anticipated some of the financial instruments that we think of as characteristic of Wall Street today. Students also used the ancient Greek symposium (or drinking party) as way to understand and critique contemporary fraternity culture. I was impressed time and again at how students use their study of the past to understand their own world,” said Professor Mueller.
Ian James Walters, Cydnee Raynell Somera, and Julie Christine Warren, all seniors at Union College, presented their research topics at the conference. Each presentation was about 20 minutes and questions were asked at the end of each presentation. “My project is a two part creative thesis," said Warren. "In part one I translated two poems from Ovid’s Heroides, which is a collection of elegiac poems, really letters, written from the perspective of women in mythology to their male lovers. In part two, I’m writing two letters in Latin the corresponding male perspective. Essentially, I’ve translated love letters from women who have both been betrayed by the same man and then I’m writing two Dear Jane letters back to the women from that man’s point of view. It is a creative interpretation and experiment with gender writing.” The paper sessions, like Warren’s, allowed for a creative and interesting topic to be explored and displayed to peers and professors within the discipline. This opportunity was exciting for many.
“Before the presentation, I was really nervous because I was not only representing myself, but also representing Union College," said Somera. "During the presentation, the nerves went away and I enjoyed sharing my thesis. In the end, it was a great experience and I'm glad I was picked by the department to present.” Somera’s presentation was about how the archeological evidence at Halmyris reflects on the decline of the Roman Empire, which is also her senior thesis.
“Parilia is a wonderful opportunity for faculty and students to gather for a day of exciting presentations and conversation," said Professor Raucci. "I always enjoy hearing about the creative and innovative work of students from Union and other colleges. My favorite part is seeing students come together from different Classics communities for a shared experience.” The Classics conference was an amazing opportunity for learning and exploring new ideas with peers and professors.