Classics professor Anne Leen awarded 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award from SCICU

APRIL 20, 2012
by Tina Underwood, Media Relations

GREENVILLE, S.C.—Furman University Classics professor Anne Leen has been awarded a 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award from the South Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities (SCICU) organization. Recipients were honored in April at a special recognition dinner, and each was awarded a $3,000 professional development grant.

SCICU annually recognizes one faculty member from each of its 20 member schools. Previous winners from Furman are Victoria Turgeon (biology), Scott Henderson (education), Lloyd Benson (history), Brannon Andersen (earth and environmental sciences), Gil Einstein (psychology) and Elizabeth Smith (political science).

Leen joined the Furman faculty in 1981 and teaches Latin, Greek and Classics. She earned a bachelor's at Smith College and a doctorate from the University of Cincinnati. Furman President Rodney Smolla applauded her "ability to make the old fresh and interesting." Vice president of academic affairs John Beckford said, "Under Anne's instruction, students find relevance, application, and fascination with classical literature and language."

Throughout her teaching career, Leen has illuminated students' study of antiquity through co-curricular activities and guided research. Her methods for engaging students in the use of ancient primary sources resulted in the production of a catalog of more than 700 ancient coins donated to Furman. The project produced an historical essay, high quality digital images of each coin, and a searchable digital database in Furman's Special Collections.

For an intermediate Latin class, students produced original translations and commentaries on Roman funerary inscriptions. Students' work was showcased at Furman's annual student research symposium, published in the "Online Companion to the Worlds of Roman Women," and presented at the American Classical League's Annual Conference.

To further students' understanding of Roman history and literature, Leen co-developed a new study abroad program to Italy where she introduced 23 Furman students from ten different majors to ancient history.

For more information, contact Furman's media relations office at (864) 294-3107.

Italy: From Rome to Modern Republic

Dr. Anne Leen took a group of students to Italy in the Spring of 2012. For tales of her adventures, visit her blog.

Other department news

    Digitization Things Dr.Christopher Blackwell will spend the summer of 2010 engaged in various activities related to the digital conservation of cultural heritage objects.
    He will spend the month of June at Lichfield Cathedral in England taking multispectral digital images, and 3-d mapping, of the pages of two early manuscripts of the New Testament. One of which is a very early edition of the Wycliff translation of the Latin New Testament. The other is a 6th century Latin New Testament that features interesting variations from the Vulgate Text of St. Jerome, and whose marginal notations represent the earliest examples of writing in the Welsh language.

    He will spend July at the Biblioteca del Monaserio de El Escorial, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, capturing digital imagery of two important Greek manuscripts of the Homeric Iliad. This work will contribute to the ongoing publications of the Homer Multitext Digital Library (C. Dué and M. Ebbott, edd.: Harvard University).

    Classics Majors Susannah Morris (Class of 2012), and Andrew Corley (Class of 2012) will be working this summer under funding from the National Science Foundation and from Harvard University to analyze and publish the data from these digitization efforts.
  • CHS Grant Awarded to Dr. Christopher Blackwell For Dr. Blackwell's sabbatical, he was awarded a Research Fellowship from the Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University. This grant, in addition to support from Furman University, will provide funding for travel and other research activities related to digital library infrastructure, Greek epic poetry, and pedagogical innovations."
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant Awarded to Dr. Christopher Blackwell 9/18/09 Christopher Blackwell, Professor of Classics, has been awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to develop new technologies for organizing and analyzing digital images of artifacts such as Byzantine and Medieval manuscripts. Blackwell will use his $248,054 grant over three years in collaboration with another grant recipient, Brent Seales, director of the University of Kentucky's Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments. The project is called FoLIO: Framework for Longitudinal Image-based Organization. The work will take place at Furman, the University of Kentucky and other libraries in the United States and Europe. A number of Furman undergraduate research students will participate in the project.

    The project: "FoLIO: Framework for Longitudinal Image-based Organization"

    Universities, libraries, and museums around the world are creating massive collections of digital images. This grant will fund research into technologies to allow scholars to bring order to those collections and to engage in scientific study of those images and the artifacts they represent.

    A collection of images might include many photographs of an ancient manuscript, some taken early in the 20th century, some taken more recently; some images might show whole pages, some might show details of pages; some might show the manuscript under natural light, some might show it under ultraviolet or infra-red light. Currently, there is no technological framework in which scholars can bring all of these images together so that a measurement on one corresponds to measurements on all others, and corresponds to measurements on the original artifact. Such alignment of images is called "registration", and with a general-purpose system for registration, new kinds of analysis become possible.

    Registering 19th century photographs with modern photographs can allow scientific study of change-over-time: how the ink has faded, how mold has grown, where repairs have been conducted. Registration of 3- dimensional data with 2-dimensional images allows analysis of how the shape of artifacts may have changed, and can result in clearer images through mathematical removal of distortion. Registration of images taken under different wavelengths of light can help recover faded text, and can yield insights into the composition of inks, which will help conservators preserve artifacts.

    Registration of images of a manuscript with transcriptions of text from other editions, or "semantic registration", can provide the basis for linguistic analysis, even when the target manuscript is badly damaged. This in turn can lead to new questions of the history of language and of the tradition that preserved ancient works into the modern era.

    This grant will support work over three years that will take place at Furman and the University of Kentucky, as well as at various libraries in the United States and Europe. It will involve a number of undergraduate research students at Furman, who have already made significant contributions to the field of digital curation and conservation of cultural heritage.
  • Research Grant Awarded Dr. Christopher Blackwell and Classics Major Andrew Cannon (Class of 2010) were awarded a Research Grant for the Summer of 2010 for their project: "The First Thousand Years of Greek: Dataset Development for Historical Linguistics".

    The purpose of this project is to edit a corpus of ancient Greek texts for historical linguistic study. In collaboration with (and extending) the work of the "First Thousand Years of Greek" project of Harvard University (hereafter "F1kG"), we will edit a body of openly licensed XML texts of ancient Greek to produce verified tabular data suitable for inclusion in databases for computational linguistic analysis and publication through digital library services.

    We will focus on two bodies of works that (a) represent a plurality of extant written Greek from the invention of writing until the time of Alexander the Great, and (b) present the most pressing problems for computational treatment in their traditional form: the works of Plato and Aristotle.

    This work will provide a uniquely valuable dataset. The data will be suitable for publication online through digital library services such as the Canonical Text Service (see, e.g. , a Google AppEngine service delivering machine- and human-readable text in XML form, but based on tabular data hosted in a Google BigTable datastore). It will also be suitable for scholars doing other kinds of automated analysis of syntax, such as the Syntactic Dependency Treebanking project at Tufts University, or computational study of evolution of linguistic structures over time.

    Plato and Aristotle, too, not only represent a particularly large body of text, currently unavailable for this kind of study, but are of interest to a particularly wide audience of literary scholars, philosophers, political scientists, historians of science, and political historians.

    The best openly licensed texts of Plato and Aristotle are the XML texts released by the Perseus Digital Library. These will form the basis of the tabular dataset. Tabular data holds several advantages over an XML text for the purposes of analysis, automated discovery, and online publication. First, tabular data in the format of the F1kG project is easily transformed into XML when appropriate (this is how the Google AppEngine Canonical Text Services application, cited above, delivers XML fragments of ancient texts in response to queries). Second, tabular data consisting of a hierarchical citation, a "surface-form", and a lexical entity allows analysis of word- and form-frequency in instances where a text has been transmitted incompletely by several manuscript witnesses. Third, tabular data can take advantage of the speed, stability, and efficient use of resources of relational database software. And finally, tabular data is easily merged and combined in ways that are extremely difficult with structured markup like XML.

    With both structured (XML) text and tabular text of these important philosophical works, it becomes possible to answer new questions of these authors, and to engage in new philology and new science. This structure will make true stylometric analysis of the Aristotelian corpus possible; that is, a rigorous scientific analysis of the frequency of words and grammatical forms that can answer questions of authorship, sequence of writing, and the very nature of the text: "Is this text a work of expository prose, or an edited collection of comments and notes?"

    An international group of collaborators—faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates—have been working for several years to generate an electronic Treebank, a database of diagramed sentences for ancient Greek and Latin authors. They have encoded the syntax of much surviving Greek poetry and prose through the Classical period, with the exception of Plato and Aristotle, for the reasons I describe here. A Treebank in conjunction with structured and tabular text allows ever more questions for research: "How does Greek sentence structure change from the 5th to the 4th centuries?" "What are the stylistic markers of genre; how do Greeks write history differently from science?"

    So, this particular work has been put off because of specific problems that we are prepared to plow through, and an international research community is standing ready to begin doing substantive work based on this data.
  • Caroline Vereen will be presenting her paper "The Character of Artemis Ephesia" at the Sunoikisis Undergraduate Research Symposium, March 26 -28 in Washington, DC. Caroline's paper originated in the Furman study-away program in Turkey led by Dr. Shelly Matthews (Religion), Dr. Alfons Teipen (Religion) and Dr. Richard Letteri Communication Studies).
  • The Department of Classics was honored by the visit of Dr. Hisham Darwish and Dr. S. Soliman Farouk from the Department of Classics at the University of Cairo, Egypt. Drs. Darwish and Soliman presented their research and laid the groundwork for future collaborations and exchanges between students of Classics at Furman and their counterparts in Egypt.
  • Seven students from the fall 2008 Latin 202 class collaborated on a commentary to Propertius, Elegies III.23 that has been published in the "Online Companion to the Worlds of Roman Women" at Anne Leen directed the project. The participating students are Matt Arnold, Will Gray Beach, Robert-Lawton Pratt, Jess Renneker, Nate Rowland, and Lois Smith. Their names are listed on the Credits page at



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