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Hellenic Studies Professorship in Aegean and Mediterranean Societies and Cultures
The Hellenic Studies Professorship in Aegean and Mediterranean Societies and Cultures was made possible through the generous support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. In addition to attracting and supporting a faculty member with demonstrated research excellence, or the clear promise thereof, the professorship supports the research and outreach mission of the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies at SFU.
Sabrina Higgins joined Simon Fraser University and the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies as the inaugural holder of the Hellenic Studies Professorship in Aegean and Mediterranean Societies and Cultures in September 2016 at the rank of Assistant Professor. She holds a PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Ottawa and an MA in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology from UBC. Her research on the cult of the Virgin Mary in Late Antique Egypt represents an innovative multidisciplinary synthesis of both textual and material sources.
The Digital Mary Project
Sabrina Higgins is currently collaborating with Niki Tsironi, Senior Researcher, Institute of Historical Research at the National Hellenic Research Foundation, on a digital humanities project called the Digital Mary Project supported by a Digital Humanities Innovation Lab Partnership Grant. The project is collecting and digitizing all known visual materials relating to the Virgin from the Mediterranean in the Late Antique and Early Medieval periods.
Higgins will confront contemporary scholarship on the Virgin Mary, which largely gives precedence to the textual evidence for Marian veneration (i.e. liturgy, hymns) as the determinant for establishing the early cult of the Virgin. Supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant, this project will see her adopt a novel methodology which prioritizes the material culture related to the early cult of the Virgin over the surviving literary attestations of cult, adopting the eighth century CE as the chronological limit of these discussions.
Higgins is collaborating with Nicholas Hedley, associate professor in the Department of Geography and founder of SFU's Special Interface Research Lab, and Jitse H.F. Dijkstra, professor of classics and religious studies at the University of Ottawa, to digitally map all of the graffiti on the Temple of Isis on the island of Philae in Egypt. The objective of the study is to better understand the spatial use of the temple, including its roofs, by way of distinct groups of people. The project is supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant.