Humanities student wins new scholarship for research on intersection of Classical archaeology and gender studies

May 18, 2023

Madison Poole is the first recipient of the Department of Global Humanities’ newly established Professor André Gerolymatos Undergraduate Scholarship in Hellenic Studies. The scholarship was established in Gerolymatos’ memory and to support his vision of Hellenic studies as a broader, interdisciplinary project covering the study of Greece from antiquity to the modern age.

Poole began her undergraduate education at SFU in Fall 2018. She was always immensely interested in both Classical and Hellenic studies and after travelling to Greece a few times, she fell completely in love with Greek culture, art, and history, which was the driving force behind her decision to pursue a degree in archaeology.

Though she enrolled in one or two humanities electives early on, her interest in the department was not piqued until she took a course on Greek art and archaeology with professor Sabrina Higgins, who encouraged her to work towards a minor in global humanities with a concentration in Hellenic studies. This would allow Poole to take a wider range of cross-disciplinary courses related to Hellenic studies and, as a result, give her an opportunity to explore archaeology beyond just pure history, specifically its intersection with gender and literary studies.

In fact, she identifies her courses with Higgins as a highlight of her experience in the Department of Global Humanities, particularly the directed readings course they did together last semester that focused on enslaved women and prostitution in ancient Greece: 

“I learned so much from her and absolutely loved the courses I took with her. The directed readings course was also an amazing experience that gave me a chance to narrow down my interests and prepare for grad school, and I really appreciate the time she took to individualize the course for me.”

Higgins has this to say about Poole’s performance in the course: 

“It was an absolute pleasure working with Madison on her directed reading. It is very rare to come across an undergraduate student like her. She is curious and bright and was able to tackle with ease a reading list comparable to that I would assign at the graduate level. The resulting paper from this course, moreover, was a novel contribution to the scholarship, which I hope she continues to pursue in her graduate work.”

As Higgins hoped, Poole plans to continue and extend her research in the directing readings course in a master’s program, investigating the archaeological evidence of prostitution in the ancient Mediterranean, and credits her overall experience in humanities for preparing her to take on such academic rigour:

“The courses I took in the humanities program has helped prepare me for continuing my studies. Firstly, the Hellenic studies courses I took gave me a strong background in the history (both ancient and modern), art, and archaeology of the Mediterranean. I was also able to take Latin, which is an entry requirement for many programs. Finally, through courses such as Heroines in Greece and Beyond (HUM 318), I had the opportunity to explore important themes in gender studies, which will be applicable to my future research.”

Poole will be spending a part of her summer in Italy for a field school, after which she will be participating in the Fall convocation.

About our Concentration in Hellenic Studies

The Hellenic Studies concentration is ideally suited to the Humanities department’s global reach. Hellenism, as the sum total of ideals, thoughts, and modes of being developed by the Greeks in antiquity and selectively adopted, at different times, by cultures and people the world over, has influenced us in both direct and indirect ways. By taking this concentration, students will gain a greater appreciation for how Hellenism became a global cultural force, while also learning about Greece and its people, where it continues to thrive and constantly evolve.