It's All Greek

A graduate student talks about why she loves the classics, teaching, and Bryn Mawr.

Audrey Wallace, M.A. ’17, who is on the Ph.D. track in the Greek, Latin, and classical studies program, received her B.A. from Oberlin College, where she majored  in ancient Greek and minored in Latin. Today, she’s continuing her pursuit of all things classical while trying her hand at teaching. Wallace sat down with the Bulletin recently to share her thoughts about her Bryn Mawr experience.

The Humanity

“I got suckered in by Greek mythology, as a lot of students do,” says Wallace. “The commonalities between the classical world and our own is what drew me in. The appeal of studying a dead language, or even a society that’s so far removed from our own, is seeing the overlap. When you’re reading Ovid, who wrote millennia ago, you see similarities to your own life. And that taps into something about humanity, if that’s not too big of a claim to make about my field.”

The Defense Team

Wallace is interested in ancient Greek tragedy and philosophy (particularly in fifth-century Athens) and the depiction and role of women in the ancient world. For her thesis, she’s examining the similarities and differences among Euripides, Isocrates, and Gorgias in their defense of Helen of Troy.

Sine Qua Non

“Bryn Mawr has always been a front-runner when it comes to classics,” says Wallace, “and we are really lucky in the faculty we have here right at this moment. In recent years, the program has only gotten stronger, and the students are doing really exciting projects.”

Quizzo and Plasma

As Wallace explains, her department is part of the grad group—Classics, Archaeology, and Art History—“and then there are also the sciences,” she says. “We don’t overlap with them a ton, but this week is Graduate Student Appreciation Week, and we have a bunch of activities together: a lightning talk that gave me the chance to see a presentation about plasma, which I knew nothing about, as well as a round of Quizzo. So there are opportunities for us to interact with students in an entirely different field.”

Classical Classroom

Bryn Mawr has given Wallace teaching experience—both in her field and in the history of art. Of her time teaching the introductory ancient Greek course, she says, “I remember being a first-year Greek student and loving it but also struggling with it. It’s exciting to see students feel joy at being able to read these texts for the first time and exciting as well to be a resource for them.” More recently, she was a teaching assistant in Professor David Cast’s history of art classroom. “I had to prepare more for that and familiarize myself with the material,” she says. “It was a chance to push the students in their own skills in visual analysis—going over images again and again and talking things through with them.”

A Woman’s Place

“It’s exciting to be at a women’s institution and see all these young women who are going to take the world by storm,” says Wallace. “They’re really encouraged by the faculty here, and that’s so empowering. The community really encourages and supports young women’s excellence, and that’s a reassuring thing to be a part of.”