To do research means to inquire about things you do not already know. Employers value research skills highly, and you will have many opportunities to practice them.
Research Within Courses
Many classics courses include research projects. Some examples: In art courses, students visit museums and write papers about ancient sculptures or vases that they have examined in person. In a course on Athenian democracy, a student investigated why the Athenians required slaves to be tortured before their evidence was allowed in court. In a New Testament Greek course, one student wrote about divine epiphanies in Acts and Vergil, and another investigated Roman troops in the province of Judaea.
In addition, all senior majors take our capstone course, CLA 480, in which each student picks a topic to research. Recent seniors have explored the identification of a limestone head found at Athienou, the representation of Sappho in Attic vase painting, the comparisons at the end of Plutarch’s paired lives, grafting in Vergil, and Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus and George Washington.
Some students take the initiative to propose independent study courses, designed and executed with the guidance of faculty members. Examples of independent study topics include: the treatment of Spartan war dead, realism in Hellenistic sculpture, Stoicism, an archaeological investigation of an old Davidson golf course now covered by a pine forest, and a 3-D printing project to create an exhibition of small sculptures excavated at Athienou, Cyprus.
Our top-performing students have the chance to write honors theses. An honors thesis typically grows out of an independent study or a CLA 480 paper and involves another semester of research and writing.
Students have multiple options for summer research. Perhaps the most common for our majors is to go on an archaeological dig. Recent students have worked at Salapia in southern Italy and the Athenian Agora in Greece. More than 80 Davidson students have earned a course credit through Prof. Toumazou’s field school at Athienou, Cyprus, and we hope to start sending students with Prof. Truetzel to Morgantina, Sicily. Davidson’s Dean Rusk travel grants support student research and experiential learning abroad.
Other students work closer to home. The Davidson Research Initiative (DRI) allows first-, second- and third-year students to design research projects and engage with faculty mentors for guidance and collaboration. Ed Henderson ’18 used his DRI funding to experiment with building a lyre, a project he presented at the 2018 annual meeting of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South. Jon Springfield set to music the songs from Prof. Cheshire’s translation of Sophocles’ Trachinian Women, which was published in 2015 under the title Murder at Jagged Rock.
Another good source is the Abernethy Endowment, which supports students who wish to pursue independent research and cross-cultural study in the humanities or social sciences, either in the United States or abroad.
Students interested in any of these opportunities should talk to a faculty member.