Essays? Bring them on!

November can be a stressful time of term, and Craig Maltais, a fourth year student studying French and Concurrent Education, knows that well. This week he shares his experience as a student in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures and offers some great tips for getting through the essay workload!

It’s that time of year! It’s the grind. It’s the final countdown. The Halloween festivities are over, and now all that is left is the bright light of freedom at the end of the semester. All there is between now and then are those final projects. For students of the humanities, that probably means taking on a number of long essays that need to be written.

For a lot of programs, the most stressful time of the semester is exam time, but that isn’t necessarily the case for humanities students. For us, the final essays can count for the bulk of our final grade which places us under a lot of stress. Unfortunately, that stress is added to the weekly routine of class and other activities. But, with all the being said, it’s something that we’ve come to expect. After all, we are humanities students!

So instead of getting down on ourselves because of all the work that we have to do this month, let’s take a look at the good things that come from essay period!

First of all I want to point out that for some of us, having big essays that are worth a lot more of our final grade means that we might not have an exam for that class! So knowing once that essay is done you can kick up your boots and relax for the first time since August is a great feeling and definitely something to work towards!

Another one of the greatest things about studying in the humanities is that not only do we get to learn from some of the greatest literary works in history, but we also get to write! Reading is fun, but writing is where we get to be ourselves and explore the things that we are passionate about. In upper year classes, especially, writing becomes a sort of academic freedom. Being able to express ourselves is a great feeling and relating it back to the subjects that we love is why we are here!

Now we do have to acknowledge that the creative process isn’t always easy, and sometimes no words come to mind to fill up that blank Word document. Do NOT worry, because it happens to all of us. Here are couple of tips to get the creative juices flowing once again!

  • Start early! Giving yourself plenty of time to write your paper is essential not only to keeping stress levels to a minimum, but also to getting a good grade. Once in a while, things get pushed off to the last minute. It is university after all! However, making an effort to start these assignments well in advance helps the final product, gives you a chance to overcome writers block, to do extra research, and to edit, and edit, and edit again!
  • Sometimes taking a break for a few hours is another great way find some inspiration, or to boost your motivation! If that doesn’t seem to work and things still don’t seem to be going your way with the essay, there are always other places you can go for support. Sometimes having a quick conversation with your Professor or Teaching Assistant is a great way to stimulate your mind in terms of what you should be writing about. Don’t forget that our instructors are here to help us.
  • Additionally, Brock University offers a variety of different programs that can help students with homework, assignments, and essays. Luckily for us, the James A. Gibson Library offers essay writing help.This service provides tips and tricks to master the art of writing essays. All of the formatting and proper citing is something that adds that perfect final touch to our essays. This can come in really handy in improving your paper’s grade from a B to an A.
  • Another great place to look for some extra help is A-Z Learning Services.  They offer a variety of writing workshops that range from creating a strong thesis statement to mastering MLA formatting.

November can be a tough month. But work hard, and believe in yourself!

Drink that large coffee!  Buckle down, and write something that you’re proud of. We are Humanities Students! Essays are what we do!

    Bring it on!

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Interactive Arts & Science program offers real-world skills and experiences

What is Interactive Arts and Science about anyway? This week, fourth year student Ellen Thornton shares her experience studying the digital humanities.

You can learn more about Brock’s Centre for Digital Humanities and the programs we offer here. The diverse field of digital humanities may be just the right fit for you!

As a university student, the first question anyone asks me is “what program are you in?”

For many students, this answer is very simple since most people are familiar with programs like psychology, geography, or concurrent education.  My answer, however, comes with a lot of questioning looks and follow-up questions.

My program is called Interactive Arts and Science, or IASC for short.  This program focuses on the study of interactive digital media, which can range from web design, animation, video game design, sound design, and everything in between.

The IASC program offers a unique university experience that is different from other programs at Brock.

Smaller Class Sizes

Most university students are used to the huge lecture halls filled with hundreds of people, which I personally found quite intimidating, especially in my first year.  While this is still true depending on the electives people choose, the required courses in the IASC program in contrast have a much smaller class sizes, averaging between 30-50 students.

This means that not only do I know everyone in most of my courses, but the professors know who I am, which makes it so much easier to be engaged in the material and to ask for help on assignments.  The class sizes aren’t that different from high school, which helped me make a smooth transition from high school to university.

Wide Variety of Courses

Because the Interactive Arts and Science program is so diverse, it gives students the ability to find what really interests them.  Through my electives, I have taken history and film courses that relate to my program, while my friends have taken computer science or communication courses.

The IASC program really gives students the chance to learn about a variety of different topics, and when they find something they love they can take a course that dives deeper into the subject.  It makes every university career unique and equips students with the knowledge and skills they need for their dream careers after graduation.

Experiential Learning

While on the subject of courses, it’s one thing to learn about theories and processes, but what happens when it’s time to graduate and apply what you’ve learned?

The IASC program blends theory and practice and builds it into the program to ensure that students have transferable skills that they can use when they start working.

One of the most notable courses I have taken so far is IASC 2P08: Competencies in Interactive Arts and Science.  Instead of writing essays or sitting in lectures, to earn this credit I needed to attend 30 hours of workshops, networking or volunteering events that relate to the program.  This gave me the opportunity to not only discover just how many ways my degree can be applied after graduation, but also to listen and speak to people who are working in the different fields and learn some tricks of the trade.

Plus, it makes my parents feel better that there are jobs out there after graduation!

What are Exams?

Because the IASC program focuses on applying the knowledge we learn in class, it means that most of my required courses don’t have a formal written exam at the end of the semester.  Instead, my workload includes assignments that evaluate how well we use what we have learned in a practical, hands-on setting.

The only exams I write are for my elective classes, but I have been lucky enough to have 2 different semesters where I haven’t had to write any exams at all!  Sure it means that towards the end of the semester I am juggling 4 different assignments all due on the same day, but it feels so good to be done early and have an extra 2 weeks off, and who doesn’t like that?

All in all, the Interactive Arts and Science program doesn’t have a concrete definition, because digital and interactive media is used in so many different ways.  Because of this, every student’s experience is very different.  The thing about university that I was most excited about was having more control in what courses I wanted to take, and the IASC program really embraces this individuality.  I get to learn what I am interested in and what I want to learn, which motivates me to work harder and feel like I have the skills to pursue a career that I am passionate about.

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Six Reasons to Study Latin

Today’s post is brought to you by Keegan Bruce, a fourth year Classics student. As part of her program, Keegan is studying ancient Greek and Latin. Here, she shares her top six reasons to study  Latin.

You can learn more about studying ancient Greek and Latin and the Classics programs here.

1. Enhance Your Vocabulary

When I was in high school, I was taught that the words that sound the fanciest usually have Latin or Greek roots. I didn’t think much of that fact until first year Latin.

As I learned the vocabulary, I drew parallels between English and Latin. It became a kind of game to find the English word that had come from Latin, like the Latin, pulcher, which means beautiful but sounds like something a cat threw up (the English equivalent is pulchritudinous, meaning ‘of exceptional beauty’).

Other great words include:
Ineffable: indescribable, cannot be said/ put to words
Sonorous: a commandingly deep and full sound
Ailurophile: a cat lover
Effervescent: bubbly
Labyrinthine: twisting and maze-like
Mellifluous: sweet sounding

With Latin and Greek behind you, you can communicate more eloquently than you ever could before.

2. Develop Argumentative Eloquence

Have you ever been in an argument and fumbled over your words so much that you end up making no sense and rambling on until you’ve lost based solely on how unintelligible you were?

Latin and Greek rely heavily on knowing each word’s part of speech and how they fit together. Sentences become little LEGO play sets, with every word in a particular place with a specific meaning to make a complete unit. Eventually you start to think about structure in your everyday speech.

Then, whether you’re arguing your point in an essay or with a friend, the sentences flow smoothly, the facts follow logical steps, and your result clauses will be undeniably excellent.

If nothing else, after reading Cicero you’ll know how to stack dependent clauses in such a way that your opponent give up out of sheer frustration!

3. Earn Better Grades

Let’s not pretend that we’re not all here for good grades. Ancient languages help with that too! Your essays will improve as you will stop using the passive voice, make clearer arguments, and have a larger vocabulary.

If you’re in sciences, your reports and analyses will be more logical and they will be easier for you to write.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, that’s ok. Here’s a paper by Richard Lafleur studying how Latin increases logical thinking and raises SAT scores in math as well as vocabulary.

4. Develop Organization Skills

Learning an ancient language makes you organized. When translating, you have to know word cases and verb conjugations, so you automatically start to mark up your text as you read.

For me, this helped make my notes for other classes more organized. Once I learned to do it for Latin and Greek, I learned what I needed to colour code or focus on for my other class notes.

If you want to train your brain to get better at organizing information, an ancient language is a sure way to help you.

5. Learn Modern Languages More Easily

There are several reasons why learning ancient languages makes it easier to learn modern languages. If the language you’re learning is a Romance language (e.g., French, Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese), most of the vocabulary and verb conjugation will carry over, meaning there will be fewer new things for your brain to take in. If it’s any other language, you will already know the parts of speech and have an in-depth understanding of grammar.

This means that when people are learning for the first time what “person” means when talking about verbs, you’ll be relaxing and focusing on vocabulary instead.

In a word, you’ve gained confidence.

6. It’s Fun!

Honestly, it’s really really fun to know an ancient language. You can understand witches’ spells in horror movies (and how little sense they make) and translate every motto.

Finishing a passage of translation feels like finishing a marathon in first place, or solving a murder case. Suddenly, you can understand that Cicero was actually hilarious, and Catullus was dirtier than you ever expected. There’s a whole new world of jokes and stories open to you that you could only get in translation before.

Now you are the one shaping the words, deciding the best way to express what Julius Caesar wanted to say. You can look at a dead language and make it alive again. Once you’ve learned Latin or ancient Greek, what can’t you do?

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Experiential learning in the digital humanities

Today’s post is from Nichole Caven, a recent graduate of our Interactive Arts and Science (IASC) program offered through our Centre for Digital Humanities.

IASC explores the world of interactive media and new modes of storytelling. Students combine classroom learning with hands-on collaborative projects using the latest technology. Learn more about applying to the Interactive Arts and Science program here.

I am a recent graduate of the Interactive Arts and Sciences program at Brock. I chose this program because I found it offered the best blend of theoretical knowledge, artistic opportunities and real world applications.

Many of the classes that I took were based on theory but the skills gained from the entry level art classes helped to build my skill set. These two things combined made my experiences that much more beneficial.

A screenshot from Nichole Caven's final project in the Interactive Arts and Science program.

At school, the final project in the IASC program gave me the opportunity to combine both the theoretical and artistic knowledge and skills I have gained over the last 4 years in a practical setting. It was the culmination of all of my knowledge and skills put to the test in a year long project.

It was during this that the difference between classroom lessons and experience was clearly evident. Even though everyone on the team had the knowledge, the project pushed us to apply our knowledge and expand on what we were taught in useful ways.

Through Brock’s internship program I got to work at Morro Motion. This was the real world professional setting that put all these university taught skills to the test. The differences in expectations between being a student and working professional were clear.

I found being a student was all about soaking up knowledge and learning how to learn; whereas working was about applying the practical and theoretical knowledge I already had to fill the gaps in my skill set and using all of these university and self taught skills to get the job done.

Nichole Caven

Now that I have the theoretical knowledge and the understanding of how my skills will be used in the real world I am aiming to work in a motion capture studio.

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History student Sean Thomas lives the 18th century soldier’s life

This week’s post is a long read by history student Sean Thomas, who spent a week living like an American Revolutionary War soldier.

Sean initially wrote this piece as an assignment for HIST3P31 “Historian’s Toolbox,” taught by Professor Colin Rose.

“The assignment was to live historically, in one of several time periods, and to write about what that experience was like and what was learned from doing it,” explains Sean. ” I chose to live like an American Revolutionary War soldier.”

We hope you enjoy reading about his week as much as we did!

"Soldiers at the siege of Yorktown" by Jean-Baptiste-Antoine De Verger is a watercolour sketch showing American soldiers in 1781. (Source: Wikimedia)

Living historically as an American Soldier during the Revolutionary War was no easy task. My method before I began my seven day experiment was to read all of General Washington’s “Rules of Civility” and watch the video on Vice and find a middle ground that I believed would be possible while still attending school.

The rules were fairly easy to adapt to school life, since most of them were just one hundred and ten ways to say be polite. The more difficult part was the actual daily routine.

The day before I set out to live historically I did a grocery shop and beer run for the week. I bought things like loaves of bread, blocks of cheese, whole chickens, and salted pork. I also bought a case of beer and an armful of hard cider. That day was full of optimism; it sounded too good to be true that I got to drink all week and eat like that for an assignment!

I regretted that in about three days.

General Washington

General Washington’s “Rules of Civility” were, at times, almost impossible to implement in today’s world. One rule stated the position to stand next to your superior when you are walking and having a conversation and when and how you were allowed to contribute to that conversation. Rules that did not apply to me, mainly because I never found myself in a position where I was walking and talking to someone who was superior, like a professor.

Other that that the rules were fairly easy to follow; most of them were drilled into me since I was five. Things like put your napkin on your lap, don’t chew with your mouth full, don’t talk about people when they’re not there, and don’t tell a story if you don’t have the full story.

Others posed a much larger challenge. Interestingly enough, the ones I had trouble with tended to be in regards to the body. Rules like keep your feet firmly planted and don’t cross them, don’t touch your beard, or don’t lift one eyebrow higher than the other. I learned this week that I touch my beard way too much and move my feet far too often. It took about four days until those habits started to fade out, but it was not without constant reminder to myself.

An American colonial kitchen. From "A Brief History of the United States" by Joel Dorman Steele and Esther Baker Steele, 1885. Public Domain (Source: Wikimedia)

Eating was probably the most difficult element of revolutionary life to adjust too. And adjust I did not. Most mornings my breakfast consisted of an apple and a hard cider. Lunch was bread, cheese, and beer. And dinner was meat, pork or chicken, and beer or rum.

Rum was never directly mentioned, but maybe I was a sailor who brought it back from the Caribbean. The key is to have fun with it.

The food started out great, it was delicious and it was all washed down with alcohol. However, after a couple of days I was craving a bell pepper and I started feeling greasy and bloated.

I did, however, cook the food in an oven. I tried to be as accurate as possible, but I simply did not have a wood stove to cook on. After I made it over the half way point, the repetitive diet and salted pork started tasting delicious again. Around day five it didn’t feel as though my diet was any different than it ever was.

Food, which I thought would be the biggest barrier, proved to be relative easy. Easier than not touching my beard or hair.

The alcohol, on the other hand, was a challenge.

I underestimated the cumulative effect of a week of casual day drinks, and the occasional night cap. The rules essentially said no water, so in the morning it was hard cider. And then I had to go to class. Naturally, I could not drive and accepted the bus as a substitute for a horse and buggy.

About the time I got home I found that I was tired, tipsy, and in no position to do readings. The solution: another beer. I have not heard yet if my seminar participation was inspired or sloppy, but it was historically accurate.

The part that surprised me the most about my week of historical living was how easy it was for me to not use electricity. I was lucky, in that I had no papers due and did not have to do any research for courses. In seminars that I had to get readings online, I had my roommate print them out and give them to me. I used no artificial lights, no cell phone, no laptop, no Xbox, nor anything related.

I bought about fifty candles from Dollarama the day before I began, and burned through forty-nine of them. I knew that one candle would not be enough for my room to be illuminated enough to function, but I assumed two would do the trick. I burned ten candles at a time. I also learned that candles in front of a mirror produces more light, something that was probably common knowledge back then.

As far as passing the time, I mostly read. I did all of my seminar readings, all of my lecture readings, and read three novels. I also messed around with some doodling and writing.

Everything said and done, I had a blast with no electricity. Of course, I was dying to watch a movie. However, I held strong and did not use any electricity whatsoever. The constant drinking probably helped. I also found that, without trying, I was usually asleep by around ten every night and awake around seven in the morning. A feat I thought impossible two weeks ago.

Washington's entry into New York: on the evacuation of the city by the British, Nov. 25th. 1783. Currier & Ives. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. (Source: Wikimedia).

My week of living as a soldier in the Revolutionary War was informative. Obviously I missed the horrendous parts, like war. But I ate, drank, and behaved like a man from the eighteenth century. George Washington’s “Rules of Civility” more or less translated into modern day manners, though we are uncultured compared to the rules he wrote when he was sixteen.

The diet and fluid intake was hard on my body, but I can understand how the body adapts to it and it was certainly favorable to dysentery.

And the technological aspect is one in which I am jealous of the era. I conversed with people more, and I learned much more in one week than I normally would have. I may not volunteer to live like a Revolutionary soldier again, but I do feel as though these past seven days has taught me, to a limited degree, what life was like in America in the late 1700’s.

And, given how drunk, or tipsy, I was on a regular basis, it is a wonder they managed to accomplish anything, let alone build a new empire.

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Responding to politics with poetry

Casey Lawrence, an MA student in English, has recently published an anthology of poetry in response to American politics. Work by Andrew Power, a fourth year English major, is included in the volume.

Casey Lawrence is using the power of words to make the world a better place.

Lawrence, who has just completed her English BA and is embarking on an MA, has just released a co-edited anthology of poetry and short prose title “11/9: The Fall of American Democracy” to highlight marginalized voices affected by American politics.

Lawrence believes that poetry’s power to validate people’s feelings and make connections has an important place in the current political climate.

“We’re using poetry to create awareness and connection but also to do tangible good in the world with our words,” adds Lawrence. “Poetry is political; It has always been about dissent and resistance.”

Although Lawrence has published several young adult novels, this was her first time working on an anthology. It was more difficult than expected, she says, but very rewarding to see people’ positive response to both the texts and the cause they’re donating.

Lawrence worked with her co-editor William D. Dickerson to sift through hundreds of submissions after putting out a call for submissions online and through her author network.

The volume features 57 international authors and prioritizes those most affected by the results of the 2017 American election. Both amateur and established poets are included.

Fourth-year Brock English student Andrew Power is one of the few Canadian poets featured in the new volume.

His erasure poem is written by blacking out words from a page of John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” He chose “Paradise Lost” as a starting point because of its theme of the pursuit of ambition.

Power wants readers to see that people have been looking at phenomena like this for hundreds of years.

“Literature always been addressing political subjects,” he explains. “The topics aren’t that uncommon, but cyclical.”

The project is completely non-profit and all proceeds are being donated to charity. Lawrence and Dickerson have published the work through’s Create Space, and all proceeds will be donated to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), which supports survivors of sexual violence, and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).

“11/9: The Fall of American Democracy” is available as both a paperback and ebook through or its Facebook page. You can connect with Casey Lawrence on Facebook as well.

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Visiting Fulbright scholar immersed in history of local black community

Visiting Fulbright scholar Professor Daniel Broyld will be teaching CANA3V91 on abolitionist movements in the US and Canada this fall. Students will be using the library's special collections and archives to examine early photographs and tin types of members of St. Catharines' black community.

For visiting Fulbright Scholar Daniel Broyld, living and working in St. Catharines adds another layer to his research on black identity and migration along the Canadian-American border.

“It’s very important for me to actually inhabit this space,” he says of his time in Niagara, where he’ll be working at Brock until December. “Although I look at black communities in the 19th century, it’s nice to still familiarize myself with the landscape and community they would have lived in. To actually live here is another part of understanding.”

Broyld’s semester at Brock, which began in July, will also give him an opportunity to share his expertise with students and to work on his upcoming book. Borderland Blacks focuses on the transnational exchange of immigration and interaction between the Rochester New York and St. Catharines black communities.

Broyld has already found fresh research material in the St. Catharines Public Library collection and is making use of Brock’s Rick Bell collection of photographs from the 1860s and 1870s.

“It’s nice to be able to spend some real time and not rush through it, but to feel like I can settle into understanding the black history of St. Catharines,” he says.

An assistant professor of History at Central Connecticut State University, Broyld is an expert on Harriet Tubman and has consulted on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland.

His time at Brock was made possible through one of about 8,000 grants awarded each year through the Fulbright Program — an American scholarship program that enables American scholars to research and teach abroad, and international scholars to study in the United States.

Broyld is interested in the experience of black women, such as Tubman, coming to Canada during the Victorian era.

“There’s a deeper analysis of Tubman that goes beyond just the racial component of her being in Canada,” he says. “Black women running to Canada was more than an analysis of racial liberation. I think they thought, too, that this was the queen’s soil … What can the queen offer them personally?”

While at Brock, Broyld will be teaching Canadian Studies course CANA3V91 Abolitionist Movements in Canada and the United States, focusing on the transnational nature of the abolitionist movement.

“The abolitionist movement is a precursor to the civil rights movement,” Broyld explains. “There are different schools of thought, different philosophies and different approaches to how to rid yourself of the institution of slavery.”

The course is not just about American slavery, but about understanding Canadian slavery and how newly freed people were incorporated into society. “We’re weaving the two nations together to tell a cohesive story,” Broyld says.

As part of the course, students will be using the Archives and Special Collections of Brock’s James A. Gibson Library as well as material at the St. Catharines Public Library. Students will use 19th century photographs and tin types — images on thin pieces of metal — to learn how material culture can provide a deeper understanding of lived experience.

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Student Spotlight: Working at Rodman Hall opens doors for recent grad Fraser Brown

We’ve returned from our summer hiatus with a new line up of blog posts! We’re excited to share the Brock Humanities experience with you as we get ready for a new academic year.

To start things off, we would like to introduce you to Fraser Brown. Fraser has just finished a honours degree in studio art in the Visual Arts department. He will be going on to complete a co-op in office administration at Fanshaw College this fall in preparation for a career in arts administration. His experience as an intern at Rodman Hall Art Centre this summer has been instrumental in finding his career path.

Fraser Brown has been enjoying his work as a summer intern at Rodman Hall Art Centre. Photo by Danny Custodio.

My first visit to Rodman Hall Art Centre took place in 2014 as part of a class project. I was struck by Melanie Authier’s Grisaille, an exhibition curated by Marcie Bronson, but what set Rodman Hall apart from any other gallery was the historic building and grounds.

At the time I had no idea the importance Rodman Hall would play in my education and future career plan but after completing an honours thesis in the building’s third floor studios, exhibiting in the gallery space, attending numerous HOT TALKS they host, and interning for the summer to provide audience engagement and administrative assistance, Rodman Hall Art Centre has proven itself as the highlight of my experience at Brock University.

Rodman Hall Art Centre is situated in downtown St. Catharines. Photo by Fraser Brown.

Rodman Hall’s third floor consists of six studios dedicated to students in the VISA 4F06 Honours course. Working under the guidance of curator Marcie Bronson and former curator Stuart Reid, along with instructors Shawn Serfas and Donna Szoke, I was able to create a body of work focusing on issues I feel passionate about while receiving guidance from professionals. I was encouraged to explore different mediums, approaches, and concepts which refined the ideas I brought to the course and establish an argument for why my practice is relevant to the contemporary art world.

Interning at Rodman Hall has been a reward this summer. Deciding to pursue fine art as a career requires a second one to support it, and working under the mentorship of Rodman Hall’s Administrative Assistant Danny Custodio and Arts Educator Michelle Nichols has helped me discover my career goal: administrative director of an art gallery.

Fraser's work has included researching artists and giving tours of the art exhibited at Rodman Hall. Pictured here is John Noestheden's "Artefact Echoes" (2015). Photo by Kylie Mitchell.

Next year I begin an office-administration co-op program, with the goal to enter a post-grad course in arts administration and cultural management after. Rodman Hall’s staff has been incredibly supportive in this, providing me with copies of workshop documents to aid my professional development and making introductions to key players in the cultural sector.

Many students and locals aren’t aware of the hidden gem just over Burgoyne Bridge from downtown St. Catharines, but Rodman Hall Art Centre has a renowned reputation in the Canadian & North American Art Community. On top of that, it’s the leading contemporary art gallery for the Niagara Region, and now having worked with its staff I can see why. I am thankful for the opportunity I had to join them for the summer and to return something to a community that was always welcoming.

My internship has allowed me to utilize skills I built in coursework at Brock and bring them into a real world context. I performed research on the artists in Rodman Hall’s exhibition “Afterimage” and the history of the building. I then compiled information into a presentation and gave tours on a weekly basis. Research and presenting are fundamental skills you develop at Brock, and after working here I have learned the importance of the skills you build throughout a university career, not just the knowledge you gain.

Rodman Hall Art Centre has an extensive collection of outdoor sculpture. Here, Fraser leads a group of children in a discussion of Reinhard Reitzenstein's "Carolina Blue" (2017). Photo by Kristen Neudorf.

I would like to say thank you to Danny, Michelle, Marcie, Matt, Emma, Kylie, Ashley, Angelina, Julia, Kristen, Shauna, Tom, Stan, Lauren, Cecilia and all of the familiar faces in the Rodman Hall community who made working there the pinnacle of my time at Brock University!

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Brock Odyssey 2017: From Delphi to Olympia

The Department of Classics takes selected students on a study tour or archaeological excavation each summer. These trips allow students to experience the art and culture of the ancient Mediterranean world in an entirely new way.

This year, Professor Allison Glazebrook and the CLAS/VISA3M23 students are on a study tour of Greece from June 5-18th. During this time, students will be blogging about their experience on the course blog and sharing picture on our faculty’s Instagram and Facebook. Follow along on social media with their hashtag, #brockodyssey2017!

We will be sharing a few of their blog posts with you here. Today’s post is by Sarah Murray, a third year Classics student in the archaeology stream.

To learn more about the Department of Classics’ study tours, visit their information page.

The road from Delphi to Olympia descends from Mount Parnassus at an elevation of 1,800 feet to the Gulf of Corinth at sea level. It is a thrill ride of switchbacks on narrow mountain roads, that takes you from the Ancient Greeks’ most important sanctuary at Delphi, to the fertile farmland around Olympia.

The route passes through country that is harsh and rugged, but filled with pink and white rhododendrons and wildflowers that support the bees from the numerous apiaries located on the mountainsides. From the bus you see the houses pass in flashes of white stucco and red terracotta roofs, white-walled cemeteries full of tall white crosses, beside little white churches and the  frequent small and brightly painted roadside shrines. Many of the rounded mountains are topped with windmills and houses wear solar panels on their roofs-a reminder of the modern world-in a landscape where you can see the remains of abandoned farms hiding in the tall yellow grass. The old and the new exist side by side here in Greece-the past runs into a present in a state that must struggle to meet the needs of its living citizens while preserving the legacy its ancestors.

Incredible engineering of the Rio-Antirrio bridge. Photo by Stephanie Semenuk.

One image of modernity is the Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge  (the longest fully suspended cable type bridge in the world) that spans the Gulf of Corinth and connects mainland Greece to the Peloponnese. You can see the length of it gleaming white in the distance as you reach the coastal plain. The cables that suspend the bridge arch gracefully towards the sky giving the structure an appearance of lightness that belays the reality of the supporting piles that anchor it to the sea bed sixty-five feet below the surface of the treacherous strait. It is a blend of technical mastery over the elements and yet still a thing of beauty-so very Greek.

The bridge takes you to the Peloponnese where the land is lush and fertile, for there is water here to nourish the growth of the vegetables and vines that grow in abundance, and the olive trees of course. Tall green cedars rise above everything as they soar towards the sky like dark spears against the backdrop of blue.  This landscape is such a contrast to the rugged power of the sanctuary in the mountains, but both scenes have their own particular beauty.

Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge. Photo by Sarah Murray.

This is the landscape of the Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, an ancient site where athletes worshipped the god in athletic competitions that drew participants from all over the ancient world. The ancient Olympics began here in 776 B.C.E. and like the modern games were held every four years. Before the games started word would go out in all directions to inform the various city states that the games would be held soon, so that hostilities would cease and the games would be peaceful. The tradition was ended at the end of the fourth century C.E. but the modern Olympics are based on those long ago athletic events.

At Olympia the ruins of the Temples of Hera and of Zeus, state treasuries and monuments such as the Philippeion sit along paths that are shaded by large trees. Under some of the trees there are architectural fragments from the site that provide a pleasant place to sit and enjoy the breeze. The foundations of the Temple of Zeus hint at the grandeur of the temple that once stood here, but only one lonely column stands among the tumbled ruins that have succumbed to floods, earthquakes and the passing years.

Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Photo by Sarah Murray.

The museum displays the wealth of the archaeological finds from the site, from the votives left by worshippers, armour and weaponry dedicated to Zeus and moulds used in the workshop of Pheidias who created the enormous statue of the god that resided in the Temple of Zeus. The museum also displays the magnificent sculptures from the temple pediments that have to be seen in order to appreciate their scale and the mastery of the sculptors.

Students take on the original Olympic foot race, the stade, at Olympia. Photo by Sarah Murray.

The truly adventurous can enter the ancient stadium through the same gateway that the ancient athletes and umpires used, stand behind the balbis (the starting line) and race against their friends to the finish line about 200 yards away. If you do run, you can say that you raced at Olympia and be proud of that feat, after all the only people who know that you finished last were the friends who cheered you all the way to the finish line.

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Brock Odyssey 2017: Experiencing mountains and temples

The Department of Classics takes selected students on a study tour or archaeological excavation each summer. These trips allow students to experience the art and culture of the ancient Mediterranean world in an entirely new way.

This year, Professor Allison Glazebrook and the CLAS/VISA3M23 students are on a study tour of Greece from June 5-18th. During this time, students will be blogging about their experience on the course blog and sharing picture on our faculty’s Instagram and Facebook. Follow along on social media with their hashtag, #brockodyssey2017!

We will be sharing a few of their blog posts with you here. Today’s post is by Adelina Misasi, a history major heading into her fourth year of studies.

To learn more about the Department of Classics’ study tours, visit their information page.

We started June 11 in the Neda hotel in Olympia. We packed up and headed out to the bus to take a trip to the temple of Apollo  at Bassae. The trip was a two hour long bus ride which allowed some of us to enjoy the scenery where we saw more mountain ranges, goats and other types of nature that we did not see in places such as Athens. It also allowed some of us to catch up on sleep.

Driving through the mountains was a very different and over whelming experience. To be on a very small road on the side of a mountain did not feel all too safe; however, our bus driver Panos was fantastic getting us to the temple. The views we were able to witness from driving along the mountains were incredible.

Student Will Durward took this photo of Greek mountains from the top of Mount Lykaion.

Once we had arrived, the temple  was explained by Dr. Glazebrook and Teagan. It is one of the only temples that is still standing with most of its original limestone and marble.  Dr. Glazebrook had mentioned that it is the first world heritage site designation in Greece because of how well preserved the temple is.

We learned that the temple has been covered by a protective tent and any reconstruction the temple has gone through it is primarily to preserve the existing architecture. They had done this through beams and other scaffolds in order to keep the temple from shifting or breaking any further.  The temple was very overwhelming to see because this was the first temple we have seen mostly in tact and that did not have large pieces of new marble fixing the temple to show visitors its original form.

While at the temple we encountered very interesting background music that made me feel a little uncomfortable because it made the ambiance of the temple very creepy. While looking at the temple I thought one very interesting feature was the use of all three orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian) throughout the temple.

After the temple we were back on the bus and drove a few more hours to the site of Messene.

The site of Messene was a very interesting site to visit because it was one of the first sites that was very interactive.  While walking through the site there were a few areas that I found extremely interesting.

First off, the bath house that was located in the Agora of Messene still had most of its heat stones intact.

Next at the site of Messene another aspect that I found very interesting to see was the stadium.

Walking through the stadium was overwhelming because of how large the stadium is  and how intact the seats and stadium are.  Sitting in the stadium I felt that I truly was a part of history watching games and athletes show their strengths.

Later on in the day after the site at Messene we went to the location of the gates at Messene, where we had Mike present on the gates and he explained how the gates were used as a well made fortification and had many different watch towers. Today when going to the site most of the gate is no longer intact, but what is still standing is a sight to see.

Overall it was really interesting to see both the temple of Apollo and the site of Messene.

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