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Emily Barnum, a member of the classics hon­orary Eta Sigma Phi, will present her paper on “His­tories.” Katie J. Read | Col­legian

Junior Greek major Emily Barnum is one of three under­grad­uates selected in Feb­ruary to present a paper at Eta Sigma Phi’s annual con­ference, held March 24 – 26 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

With her nom­i­nation, Barnum con­tinues a streak for Hillsdale’s success in securing a paper pre­sen­tation slot at the clas­sical studies honorary’s national con­vention. On March 25, she will read her essay to her peers and a set of judges who will choose a winner.

Barnum wrote her paper in the fall for Greek Civ­i­lization and edited her work over winter break, before sub­mitting it in late January. She said her essay traces the effect of lan­guage on cul­tural for­mation and identity in Herodotus’ “His­tories.”

“I appre­ciate the way that Herodotus rec­og­nizes cul­tural dif­fer­ences, and I think studying the work in this life can be helpful in under­standing and reacting to those dif­fer­ences, even if it’s not an exact blue­print,” Barnum said. “It helps the dia­logue.”

Assistant Pro­fessor of Classics Laury Ward and classics lec­turer Gill Renberg helped refine her paper.

“What I really value in Emily as a student is not just her faculty for lan­guage but how that is com­pli­mented by her ability to ask good ques­tions about the material,” Ward said. “Only a knowledge of the lan­guage com­pli­mented by a keen inves­tigative sense will gen­erate this kind of work.”

While the paper explores the larger theme of language’s place in cul­tural identity, it also delves into the specifics of Herodotus’ work. For example, Barnum del­e­gates one section of her work to the analysis of a single word from the “His­tories” — “bar­baras,” meaning bar­barian.

Ward said the national con­ference is a valuable expe­rience for all stu­dents of Eta Sigma Phi. It gives a select few, like Barnum, the expe­rience of writing, reworking, pre­senting, and receiving cri­tiques on an essay. The con­ference also high­lights what other Eta Sigma Phi chapters do on their cam­puses.

Senior Anne Begin, pres­ident of Hillsdale’s 87-member Eta Sigma Phi chapter, said classics stu­dents broaden their knowledge through the con­fer­ences’ research panels, museum visits, and paper pre­sen­ta­tions.

“This is a big event where we see the fruit of what we have done all year,” Begin said.

But Begin said the con­ference attendees also have fun. Last year, the Hillsdale del­e­gation won Cer­tamen, an ancient trivia com­pe­tition, and dined at a banquet in Ancient Roman style, sans utensils — no forks or knives allowed.

Begin said she is proud to see how much Barnum has grown in her under­standing and appre­ci­ation of the classics.

“In a way,” she said, “I’ve watched all the members of the hon­orary grow up from anxious freshmen to full-fledged scholars getting their ideas out there.”

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Katherine Scheu
Junior Katie J. Read is the assistant editor for the Culture page of The Hillsdale Collegian. When she's not working in the newsroom or reporting on a story, she's reading either French literature or backlogged feature stories on the Pulitzer prize website. After graduation, she hopes to write feature stories for a large daily paper and invest in a KitchenAid mixer and a puppy.