Classical studies is the interdisciplinary study of ancient Greece and Rome. We offer courses on mythology, warfare, gender, politics, history, art, and philosophy in the Greco-Roman world. But our focus falls on the languages themselves, ancient Greek and Latin. In small class settings, our students read some of the greatest works of world literature, from Homer to Virgil and the New Testament, all in the comfortable and collegial setting of our departmental home in John Stone Hall.
Classical studies is a true liberals arts major…and one of the oldest! We teach you to read closely, think critically, and argue persuasively. Some of our majors go on to top-flight graduate programs in classical studies (like Cornell, UMass Amherst, and the University of Wisconsin) or teach Latin in middle school and high school (often with an education minor). But, most take the skills they learned in classical studies and pursue careers in medicine, public policy, law, social work, and business.
A.B., A.M., Ph.D., Brown University
“My degrees are in Comparative Literature, a field that lets me explore everything from Homer’s Odyssey to Joyce’s Ulysses. If you’re like me, you will love tracing the Classical inheritance of Greek and Latin across the centuries, following the great themes of love and war, the heroes and the villains, and the languages that grew up and sometimes disappeared again—Germanic, Celtic, Romance. But a career at Millsaps has also opened my eyes to the wonders of world literature, especially in a team-taught course like Heritage. My friends in Philosophy, History, and Religious Studies have introduced me to Egyptian love lyrics, Japanese haiku, the epics of India, and Choctaw creation myths. There is so much left to discover, so much left to read in ancient, medieval, or modern works, and the best material shows us who we are and where we came from.”
B.A., University of Cincinnati; M.A., Ph.D., University of Wisconsin
Holly Sypniewski is an Associate Professor of Classics. She teaches Greek and Latin at all levels, study abroad courses in Italy, and a range of courses on Greek and Roman civilization including Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World. She received her M.A. And Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her B.A. from the University of Cincinnati. Her research interests include Latin poetry, the epic tradition, ancient graffiti, and the reception of classical texts by later authors.
“No matter what I teach, I try to bring the ancient world to life for students and to help students connect with the past. If we’re reading Cicero’s Latin orations, then we’re going to learn how to wear a toga and recite those speeches in Latin. Classical literature is so much more than text on a page! Traveling to Italy with my students is one my favorite aspects of teaching. No book can replicate the experience of discussing Julius Caesar in the middle of the Roman Forum, or learning about Roman wall painting by walking through the rooms of a Roman villa in Pompeii. I’ve recently joined a long-term research project on ancient graffiti at Herculaneum and Pompeii and look forward to my students joining in that research."
B.A., University of Virginia; M.A., University of Colorado-Boulder; Ph.D., Brown University
David Yates is an Assistant Professor of Classics. He teaches Greek and Latin at all levels and several courses on various aspects of ancient Greek and Roman society (for example, War and Society in the Ancient World, Greek and Roman Civilization, and Mythology). He received his Ph.D. from Brown University, an M.A. from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and his B.A. from the University of Virginia. His research interests are ancient warfare, politics, and memory.
“My favorite part of teaching Classics at Millsaps is showing students the unexpected things about the ancient world—how did it smell, sound, and feel? Fifty students with PVC pipe spears in the Bowl isn’t exactly Spartan warfare, but it leaves students with an excellent sense of the real experience that stood behind the battles we discuss in class. I bring the same attitude to Greek and Latin. It’s not just about how to read Plato, Caesar, or the New Testament in their original languages (though that is pretty rockin’!). It’s also about how languages work generally and the interplay between language and culture that you can only appreciate when you see it from a different perspective.”
B.A., Ohio Wesleyan University; Ph.D. Candidate, Brown University
Jennifer Lewton-Yates teaches a variety of courses in the Classical Studies curriculum, from beginning language and Classical Mythology to advanced readings in Latin and Greek (recent authors include Euripides, Lucian, Apuleius, and Ovid). Lewton-Yates completed her undergraduate degree at Ohio Wesleyan University and is currently finishing her Ph.D. at Brown with a dissertation focusing on the relationship between the Ancient Novels (fabulous stories about lovers separated by shipwrecks and men who get turned into donkeys) and Greek Tragedy (more fabulous stories about wives who have been replaced by ghosts and heroes who rescue their friends from the clutches of Death). "Having thrived on small classes and personalized attention from my professors as an undergraduate, I love being able to offer my students the same type of experience here at Millsaps," she said. "I like to keep the format of my language classes as flexible as possible. When students ask to read a particular Catullus poem, this tragedy instead of that tragedy, or even a little bit of Latin Harry Potter the answer is almost always yes. "
When she isn’t teaching Latin or Greek, Lewton-Yates directs the College’s 1 Campus 1 Community Program and the Wellspring Living-Learning community for first-year students.