Graduate students on 2019-2020

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Despite the challenges of the pandemic, it was a banner year for students earning their doctoral degree. Chiara Graf, Brad Hald, John Fabiano, and Alex Cushing all successfully defended their PhD dissertations; Rachel Mazzara’s oral will occur at the end of summer.

With ingenuity the grad students have created some semblance of a community even in these socially-distanced times through a Woodbury WhatsApp group, and various socially-distanced events like Zoom coffee hours, Zoom Pub Quiz, and a scavenger hunt. All of this was organized by our valiant arbiter elegantiae (i.e. social chair), Rachel Mazzara.

Grad students also re-organized the Woodbury library and re-conceptualized the basement kitchen as a multi-use space, as well as other downstairs spaces. New furniture and equipment have arrived and will be put in place to make student spaces more welcoming—and more useful in a socially distanced world.

Alex Cushing

Alex Cushing

My dissertation title was “The Economic Relationship between Patron and Freedman in Italy in the Early Roman Empire”. It was the first remotely-defended/Zoom-defended dissertation in Department history. I was in Washington DC during my defense, my external was in Belgium, and everyone else was in Toronto, so that was interesting. This later picture features a Covid hairstyle.  

Chiara Graf

My dissertation was called “Wisdom and Other Feelings: Affect, Knowledge, and the Senecan Subject.” This coming year, I’ll be a postdoctoral fellow here at the U of T Classics Department. 

John Fabiano

Dissertation Title:  Narratu sunt digna: Aspects of the Socio-Economic Life of Rome’s Plebs, 275-455 CE

Dissertation Summary: My dissertation encompasses a wide-ranging analysis of the socio-economic life of the non-elite urban population of Rome and their interactions with the institutions and administration of the city from 275 until 455 CE. Following current trends in the study of late antique society and by adopting new sociological approaches, I present a non-elite population that formed a socially and economically contrasted group, which experienced vitality on a level not hitherto appreciated in histories of the Late Empire. 

Future plans: I am pleased to be spending the upcoming academic year once again at the University of Toronto as a Lecturer in the Department of Classics. In the Spring of 2021, I’ll be heading to Ghent University in Belgium to take up a visiting fellowship as part of a research programme on the Structural Determinants of Economic Performance in the Roman World.

Bradley Hald

It seems weird to talk about ‘future plans’ at this moment in the world, but my plan before the pandemic was to get a job teaching classics at the secondary school level. That has panned out partially: this summer I’m leading Latin classes for some local Toronto high schoolers and also for some Chinese high school students in China and Europe, all via Zoom. I may try again in the spring to get a proper high school teaching gig, but we’ll have to see what the world looks like then. 

I completed my Masters research in 2013 at the University of Toronto, writing on the metapoetics of bougonia in Vergil’s fourth Georgic. After that, I took a hard one-eighty and focused my PhD research on Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. In November 2019, I successfully defended my thesis, entitled “Vision, Fear, and Knowledge in Thucydides’ History.” As a graduate student, I completed several foreign programs in language, ancient history, and classical archaeology, including German for Classics Students at the University of Cologne and the Regular Program at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. I am currently employed as a Lecturer in the Classics Department at Toronto, teaching Latin and Greek language and literature.

Visit the Graduate Classics Course Union page to learn more.