The Hillsdale Classics Department recently held a lecture, titled “Love in the Aeneid,” to commemorate Grace West, a Hillsdale classics professor who died in May. The lecture was held as a kind of memorial, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics Carl Young, who organized the event, explained how the idea came to be.
“It was inspired by a conversation I had with David West, Grace West’s son, at Grace’s funeral. We, as her colleagues, had a chance to mourn her loss but some of her students didn’t get that because they were gone for the summer,” Young said.
West’s son had been working on an article about the Aeneid and mentioned it to Young. That’s when Young thought of a possible lecture series.
“I said, ‘Why don’t you come talk about it at Hillsdale? It seems like a fitting memorial to your mother,’” Young said.
Many classics professors were in favor of the idea.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics Patrick Owens, who now works from Grace West’s office and teaches her courses, talked more about the lecture held in her honor.
“Our department wanted to pay homage to Dr. West on her passing and celebrate her scholarship and work at the college,” Owens said.
Owens described the event and its success.
“It was a very approachable lecture. It was something that students who had never taken a Latin course could come to and really benefit from,” Owens said. “I invited my entire Aeneid class because I am teaching the very course Gracie West would have been teaching.”
Students and faculty were very receptive, according to Owens.
“The lecture hall was nearly packed with colleagues from all departments, graduate students, and students from English and Classics. Moving forward, there is a hope that this will become a series, but I think that depends on funding,” Owens said.
Grace West’s husband, Professor of Politics Tom West, Young, and the rest of the classics faculty want to make the lecture an annual series. First, they must determine how to solve the problem of financial aid.
“I’m trying to find a donor who is willing to fund this because the classics department has a limited budget,” Young said.
There is hope that the tradition will start with the help of supporters. Young expressed his plans for future lectures.
“We’d like to highlight female classics professors,” Young said. “Grace took that role seriously.”