A “grand old tradition” in humanities scholarship is soon to be revived at Johns Hopkins, and Alan Shapiro and Michael Koortbojian couldn’t be happier.
The Krieger School faculty members are two of the catalysts behind the new graduate program in Classical Art and Archaeology, which is set to begin in the fall and is aimed at students whose interests span a range of disciplines, including history of art, archaeology, classics, and Romance languages. At its core, the program will focus on Greek and Roman art and archaeology, drawing heavily on Egyptology, Near Eastern archaeology, and Early Christian art.
“Johns Hopkins had a tradition in the first half of the 1900s of scholars with unusually broad interests—men like Leo Spitzer—Renaissance men, if you will,” says Shapiro, the W. H. Collins Vickers Professor of Archaeology in the Department of Classics. As the century progressed and knowledge exploded, there was a trend toward specialization, Shapiro says. Today, the pendulum seems to be swinging back. “There is a re-emerging interest in spanning more than one discipline,” he says.
History of Art’s Koortbojian says the new program will benefit from several recent key faculty hires; in particular, he cites the arrival of Christopher Celenza, professor of Italian literature, who has a joint appointment in history and classics, and Hérica Valladares, an assistant professor of classics, who has an interest in Roman art and archaeology. “As the faculty changes, certain strengths emerge that hadn’t existed before or for decades,” says Koortbojian, the Nancy H. and Robert E. Hall Professor in the Humanities. The program will also draw on the expertise of Betsy Bryan and Glenn Schwartz in Near Eastern Studies; Henry McGuire and Herbert Kessler in art history; and Matthew Roller and Dimitrios Yatromanolakis in classics.
The Johns Hopkins Archaeological Collection, slated for new, more expansive digs after the renovation of Gilman Hall, will be an important resource for the Classical Art and Archaeology program, Shapiro says. “The Archaeological Collection will be well integrated. Once it’s re-installed, it will be the centerpiece uniting the three departments: Near Eastern Studies, Classics, and Art History.”
Koortbojian adds, “It will serve as the basis for a great deal of hands-on teaching.” The collection includes black and red figure Greek vases, artifacts from Cyprus, and a series of large marble slabs with Latin inscriptions.
Interest in the new Classical Art and Archaeology program has been keen. “There are only a few North American schools that offer this kind of program,” Koortbojian says. “Our hope is that once this is going, it will have quite a positive effect on our existing programs—that it will help us challenge each other to be better.”
The Johns Hopkins Archaeological Collection will be an important resource for the new program in Classical Art and Archaeology.