A little touch of classics from Winter Break!

When You Study the Humanities

When I first stepped foot on the South 40 more than a year ago, I had never seen the Midwest, had no clue how delicious Middle Eastern food was, and I had never even been on a plane until earlier that day. I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed first-year student who wanted to study neuroscience, and then business, and then international and area studies. But somewhere along the way, I found myself gravitating towards the humanities. And more than a year later, I have found that that love is still going strong (the feelings are mutual, by the way).

I had always planned on studying classics at WashU, mostly because of my love for Greek mythology and years spent reading and re-reading (and re-reading) the Percy Jackson series. So my very first semester of college, I enrolled in a course on Greek Mythology with Professor Keane and a First-Year Seminar called Eros through the Ages with Dean McClelland (who also happened to be my Four-Year Advisor). From there, I would end up taking Intensive Greek I, Sex and Gender in Greco-Roman Antiquity, Olympian Shadows, and Greek and Roman Painting (a course which is currently a highlight of my Monday and Wednesday schedules, mind you). The Department of Classics welcomed me with open arms, and the community of brilliant professors and insightful students-by-day-and-researchers-by-night has been my home ever since. In fact, I love the department so much I became their student-worker last semester, and have been able to work more closely with my professors each and every day. Through my pursuits in the department, I have harnessed a passion for history, culture, research, and analysis, and developed an affinity for the likes of Ovid and Pindar.

What’s so incredible about the humanities (and in particular, classics) is its intersectionality and its multidimensionality. In my studies, I have delved into history, art, culture studies, gender and sexuality studies, geography, film, language, and even economics! Classics offers me a unique opportunity to explore an endless number of fields, because even an ancient field like classics is continually growing and expanding; each new approach breathes life into a new angle to be studied.

In many ways, the Classics Department is reflective of WashU as a whole. The freedom to pursue a myriad of interests and passions is encouraged, and even expected, and is made possible by the complementary nature of WashU’s academia. Just last semester, I helped create a website on the historicity and meaning of the Theseus myth using what I had learned in my Web Development course. Combining web design and mythology was certainly the last thing I expected to do when I first stepped foot on the South 40 more than a year ago.

There are only a few places on Earth where you can combine traditional and modernity, and WashU is one of those places. Studying the humanities at WashU has allowed me to fall in love with the old and the new, and without this opportunity I can’t say that I’d be the student, or the person, that I am today.