The American Academy in Rome named Franklin & Marshall College’s Gretchen Meyers director of the academy’s Classical Summer School for a three-year term that began this fall.
The prestigious position was established in 1923. Meyers, who will continue her work as associate professor and chair of F&M’s Classics Department, joins the ranks of eminent professors of classics and archaeology in Rome. She will teach a six-week course each summer with the ancient city serving as her classroom.
“I am excited to bring the archaeology of ancient Rome to a far wider audience of graduate students and Latin teachers,” Meyers said. “The city offers quite a lot in terms of multiculturalism. So many different groups made up the ancient city.”
Appointed earlier this year after a national search, Meyers begins her first term at the Academy in June with a class of graduate students, Latin high school teachers and some advanced undergraduates and college faculty.
The class meets at various locations around the city such as the Pantheon, the Colosseum and the Forum and also features field trips to nearby sites, including Pompeii. Students will study the period of Rome from its pagan origins to when Emperor Constantine effectively converted the empire to Christianity, ending the Roman era.
“I’ve begun the process of recruiting applicants and setting up the program to run next summer,” she said. “I especially want to reach out to teachers of underrepresented groups and students who might not gravitate toward classics.”
The 123-year-old American Academy provides a series of programs including other summer schools and fellowships, but the Classical Summer School is the oldest of them.
“It’s exciting to step into this role with its venerable history and tradition,” Meyers said. “The program offers students an opportunity to learn about Rome from an expert who knows about archaeology and urbanism.”
Meyers started her career in Rome in 1999. She spent five years teaching classics, first on a fellowship from University of Texas at Austin, where she wrote her dissertation, and then at three study-abroad programs: John Cabot University, Duquesne University and St. Mary’s University.
“It just appealed to me to return,” Meyers said. “So much has changed; there are so many different views on classics; there are new things in Rome; and I’m at a stage in my career where I wanted to go back to where I started.”