Two Bryn Mawr Classicists Win Top Honors

Posted January 19th, 2010 at 12:29 pm.


Julia Haig Gaisser

Two Bryn Mawr classicists recently earned top honors from the American Philological Association (APA), the principal learned society in North America for the study of ancient Greek and Roman languages, literatures, and civilizations.

Eugenia Chase Guild Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and Professor Emeritus of Latin Julia Haig Gaisser won the Charles J. Goodwin Award, the APA’s only award for scholarly achievement, for her monograph The Fortunes of Apuleius and the Golden Ass: A Study in Transmission and Reception.

Professor Emeritus Richard Hamilton, who retired from his post as the Paul Shorey Professor of Greek last month, won the APA’s Distinguished Service Award for extraordinary contributions to the profession of classics in both teaching and scholarship.

Gaisser’s book traces the path an ancient Roman novel—the only one that has survived in its entirety—from antiquity to the 16th century. The APA’s selection committee describes Gaisser’s exploration of how the text was transmitted and understood through the centuries as “a triumph of the historical imagination, which achieves its ambitious goals by combining precise and meticulous erudition with elegant and forceful writing.”

The book traces the text from, in Gaisser’s words, “roll to codex, into a medieval library, into the hands of humanists, into print, and finally into translation.” Her “sensitivity to the cultural context of reading and writing,” the committee notes, “makes every stage in the reception and transmission of Apuleius a new chapter in the intellectual history of its time.”

Richard Hamilton

Richard Hamilton

The Distinguished Service Award conferred on Hamilton is an occasional, rather than an annual, award; Hamilton’s is the seventh the society has presented since the honor was instituted in 1984. Hamilton earned the laurel, the award citation explains, for his role in “two revolutions, in pedagogy and scholarship.”

The outstanding pedagogical contribution to the profession cited is the Bryn Mawr Commentaries, a series of classic texts annotated for students making the transition from introductory and intermediate texts to the direct experience of ancient Greek and Latin literature. “Carefully selected and rigorously edited, the Commentaries offer the assurance of scholarly accuracy and pedagogical consistency,” the citation says, noting that 70 scholars have contributed volumes to the series, which now numbers 100 volumes.

The award also recognizes Hamilton’s founding of the Bryn Mawr Classical Review, the second-oldest online journal in the humanities. The BMCR, publishing more than 700 reviews annually, “has become a primary voice of classics book reviewing in the United States, now drawing books and reviewers from around the world,” the citation says.

“Friends and colleagues know well that this citation falls far short of enumerating his virtues,” the citation concludes, “but the classics profession as a whole recognizes that it owes him thanks and acclaim for important work, well done, work from which our profession has benefited enormously, and will continue to benefit for many years to come.”

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