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May 10, 2007

   

Archaeology Ph.D. Student Catherine Person Wins Fulbright to Study in Athens

Person

Catherine Person, a doctoral candidate in classical and Near Eastern archaeology, is one of three people worldwide who have won a 2007-08 Fulbright grant to fund a full year at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. The American School, established in 1881, offers advanced graduate students "an intensive survey of the art, archaeology, history, and topography of Greece, from antiquity to the present."

Bryn Mawr has a strong relationship with the American School, Person says, so she has been able to talk to several of her fellow graduate students who have completed its prestigious program. Three Bryn Mawr graduate students are currently enrolled in the program, and Person's fellow archaeology graduate student Andrea Guzzetti will undertake the program in Person's cohort next year.

"The program involves a lot of travel; we'll visit most of the major archaeological sites in Greece and then give presentations on them, and in the final stage, there is an opportunity to attend a field school in Corinth or to do independent research," she says. "It can be pretty rigorous, but everyone I've talked to says that it's a wonderful experience, just invaluable in understanding the classical world."

Person's fascination with the Romans and the classical past began in childhood and hasn't abated since. As an undergraduate at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., she majored in classics, and she spent half her junior year abroad in Athens and the other half in Rome.

During her first year as a graduate student at Bryn Mawr, Person picked up some tricks of the archaeological trade at a field school operated by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill at Donaratico, Tuscany. She has since assisted at Professor of Latin Darby Scott's excavations at the Atrium Vestae in the Roman Forum.

Person has experience working with objects long out of the ground, too. As a National Endowment for the Humanities Curatorial Intern, she curated an exhibition of objects drawn from the College's Richard C. Bull Collection, a varied assortment of artifacts that presented unusual challenges because of their lack of archaeological context (the donor bought the objects from antiquities dealers over the course of several decades). She is enthusiastic about the College's art and archaeology collections.

"The collections are such a great resource, for undergraduates as well as graduate students. Seniors who work for the collections have the chance to curate exhibitions, either in the display cases or online. There aren't many places that offer that kind of opportunity."

Person's academic apprenticeship has also embraced the practical realities of bringing colleagues together for scholarly exchange: she served on the committee that supervised the biennial graduate-student symposium hosted by students in the Graduate Group in Archaeology, Classics and History of Art. She's even had a taste of the ubiquitous academic committee work as the archaeology representative to the Graduate Student Association for the past two years.

Person is especially interested in Roman archaeology in the Greek world. She hopes that her year in Greece will help her identify and refine a dissertation topic in that area.

"I have a file on my computer of ideas for dissertation topics, and it's two pages long," she says wryly. "Right now, my topic depends on the day of the week or where the moon is in the sky. But I hope that looking at some of the sites and doing some intensive study there will help me define a problem that hasn't been solved."

 

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