Departmental Research Interests

Further information can be found on individual faculty profiles.

Literature:

Susanna Braund, Canada Research Chair, is currently engaged in a major SSHRC funded project, exploring the reception of the Latin poets Virgil, Lucan and Seneca (tragedies) especially as manifested in their translation history in later eras, in a wide range of European languages, including Italian, Spanish, French, English, German and Russian. Sara Milstein is disentangling the clashes of perspective lodged within biblical and Mesopotamian narratives, with the aim of finding fresh ways to read and interpret this heavily reworked literature. Florence Yoon is exploring what heralds and diplomats in Greek literature can tell us about ancient construction of identity. C. W. Marshall has published widely on issues of stagecraft and performance in Greece and Rome, paying particular attention to the demands on ancient actors and how masks work.

Archaeology:

Our department has a strong record in the field of archaeology and provides a number of exciting research and experiential learning opportunities for students. Faculty members and students have been involved in a wide range of archaeological projects, and have been especially active in the Mediterranean and Near East. Current projects directed by faculty members include Hector Williams’ excavations in Greece at Mytilene and Stymphalos; Roger Wilson’s work on Sicily with the Gerace and Kaukana projects; Lisa’s Cooper’s work in Syria at Tell ‘Acharneh; Kevin Fisher’s work on Cyprus with the Kalavasos and Maroni Built Environments Project; and Matthew McCarty’s work in Romania at Apulum.

Modern interactions with the past:

Many faculty members are interested in how the modern world understands and relates to its past. Thomas Schneider is working on German Egyptology under the Nazis and Richard Menkis is writing on Canadian reactions to the 1936 “Nazi Olympics.” Susanna Braund and Siobhán McElduff convene an interdisciplinary group of people fascinated with translation, taken in its narrow and broader senses; the group reaches beyond UBC to include Simon Fraser University and other interested experts in Vancouver. Lisa Cooper is researching the life and work of Gertrude Bell, a rare female archaeologist working in the Middle East at the turn of the 20th century. C. W. Marshall has published on representations of Greece and Rome in comics and on contemporary American television (including the series Battlestar Galactica and The Wire).

Digital approaches to the past:

Our department continues to develop its expertise in the application of digital approaches to studying the past. Siobhán McElduff and Kevin Fisher are on the steering committee of the new Digital Salon initiative, which is bringing together researchers from across the Humanities and Social Sciences at both UBC, UBC Okanagan, and Simon Fraser University. Siobhán is former Director of UBC’s Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre (MAGIC) Lab; her research includes open source text books and improving optical character recognition for 18th and 19th century documents – the latter forms part of a project on gathering better economic data for the history of classical reception. Kevin’s Kalavasos and Maroni Built Environments (KAMBE) Project incorporates a variety of cutting-edge digital technologies, including aerial photogrammetry, laser scanning, and 3D modeling, to explore Late Bronze Age urban landscapes on the island of Cyprus. He is working with the MAGIC Lab and Vancouver-based NGRAIN Corp. to produce an augmented reality app for the archaeological site of Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios. CNERS Graduate Students have been awarded funding from UBC for their exciting From Stone to Screen Project, which is attempting to digitize our department’s extensive collection of epigraphic squeezes and turn them into an online research and pedagogical resource. The department offers a graduate course on digital antiquity and will soon offer a course on digital archaeology.

Sicily:

The Centre for the Study of Ancient Sicily at the University of British Columbia was created in 2007 to take advantage of the rich literary and historical evidence preserved for the largest island at the heart of the Mediterranean. Department members Roger Wilson and Franco De Angelis pursue very active research on Sicily ranging from archaeological digs to social and economic history.

Law:

We have experts in three major systems of ancient law: Ayesha S. Chaudhry explores the role that imaginations of a historic tradition play in innovative approaches to legal problems in Islam studies. Her current work focuses on the ethical and legal issues surrounding domestic violence, and explores the various ways in which modern Muslims negotiate the demands of a patriarchal tradition with contemporary egalitarian values. Leanne Bablitz publishes on Roman law. Gregg E. Gardner, the UBC Diamond Chair in Jewish law and ethics, specializes in classical rabbinic literature – texts from late antiquity (e.g. Talmud and Midrashim) that constitute the foundations of all subsequent Jewish thought.

Cultural and political history:

Nigel Kennell is working on the social and political role of young men (or ephebes) in Greek cities. Richard Menkis studies the intersection of Jewish historical memory with Jewish identities.