by Web on January 6, 2016
Brittany Hardy spent the last semester studying abroad in Greece, where her classes regularly met at some of the ancient sites in Athens.
“As a classical studies major, Athens was the perfect city for me to live in,” said Hardy, who is a junior at Millsaps. “I took classes in Latin, ancient Greek, art and archaeology of the Aegean, and ancient Greek Sculpture.
“Studying these subjects in Athens was such an amazing experience because not only did we read about the various monuments and artifacts, but we also went as a class to visit them on site. My classes regularly met at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, the Acropolis Museum, and the Ancient Agora for our class discussions.”
Hardy worked at the Epigraphic Museum, which is operated by the Greek Ministry of Culture.
“At the museum, I studied fifth century Greek inscriptions from Attica, most of which are funerary in function,” she said. “From those inscriptions, I created apographs, which are essentially very precise sketches. I then interpreted the text in the inscriptions, which is often quite difficult due to the fragmentary nature of many surviving inscriptions, and, if an inscription has been published, I located the inscriptions in the Inscriptiones Graecae, a corpus of Ancient Greek inscriptions.”
Hardy was well prepared thanks to her work as a research assistant for Dr. Holly Sypniewski, associate professor of classics at Millsaps and the assistant director of the Ancient Graffiti Project (ancientgraffiti.wlu.edu).
“That has been one of the most formative experiences of my Millsaps career,” she said. “During the spring of my sophomore year, I enrolled in an independent study with Dr. Sypniewski in ancient Latin epigraphy during which I learned about the proper epigraphic conventions used to document ancient inscriptions. We analyzed ancient Greek and Latin graffiti as well as pictorial graffiti from Pompeii and Herculaneum, two cities destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and, in collaboration with colleagues from Washington and Lee University and the University of Richmond, we added many of these inscriptions to an online database called the Epigraphic Database Roma (EDR).
“Over the summer, I worked with Dr. Sypniewski and her colleague, Dr. Rebecca Benefiel of Washington and Lee University. I continued to upload inscriptions to EDR, but my primary task was assisting with planning the first Ancient Graffiti Project workshop. The workshop took place last August in Washington D.C. at the Center for Hellenic Studies, and a dozen scholars from across the United States and Europe were in attendance. I was given the opportunity to attend the workshop as a research assistant to Dr. Sypniewski, and it was an incredible experience.
“I was able to discuss with other scholars their specific research focuses and help them interpret their assigned graffiti. Attending this workshop was particularly influential to me because it gave me exposure to a very specific field within classical studies, and I could learn firsthand what people who study classics are able to do after college. I look forward to returning to work with the Ancient Graffiti Project in January.”
Hardy, who is from San Antonio, Texas and majoring in classical studies with a concentration in Latin and art history with a concentration in museum studies, took Latin in high school and planned to continue studying it in college.
“When I took my first classics class at Millsaps, I was completely thrown in headfirst as a freshman into an upper level translation course, and we read faster and more proficiently than I could have imagined possible,” she said. “I absolutely loved it. What I have discovered since then is that classical studies is a degree unlike any other. Within classics, students study philosophy, language, literature, archaeology, history, and so much more. Classical studies itself is incredibly interdisciplinary, and there is an infinite amount of room for specialization. This wide array of options within such a seemingly narrow field is what I have always found so captivating about classics.”
Hardy’s first experience with art history was a project in which she discussed the Platonic and Neo-Platonic influence upon Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.
“This paper opened my eyes to the sheer breadth of the field and how diverse it can be,” she said. “Within the discipline of art history, I am especially intrigued by the classical tradition, the presence of classical influence in later time periods. This is what I will be studying for my honors thesis, which will focus on Renaissance paintings of Venus in Florence and Venice.”
Hardy’s career goal is to work in a museum in some capacity, perhaps in museum education or administration. Involved on campus as a member of Delta Delta Delta and the classical studies honorary Eta Sigma Phi, Hardy also works as a student assistant in the Office of the President. Last fall, Hardy was one of two recipients of the Velma Jernigan Rodgers Scholarship Award, which is presented to the rising senior female student at Millsaps with the highest grade point average in the humanities.
Hardy chose Millsaps because the student to faculty ratio ensures students can create deep relationships with the faculty.
“My professors have been incredible,” she said. “Any time an opportunity arises, whether it's applying to present a paper at a conference or taking on an academic project on campus, my professors have continually offered to give me guidance and assistance.”