Sabine MacCormack, Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Professor of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame, died Saturday (June 16) after suffering a heart attack while gardening at her home in South Bend. She was 71. MacCormack, a historian and classicist who taught and wrote about religion and culture in ancient Rome and colonial Latin America, was unusual among her international colleagues for the prominence of her scholarship in those two very different areas. She also was among Notre Dame’s most popular and affectionately regarded teachers.
Prominent in both Greek mythology and Catholicism, the labyrinth remains one of the most enigmatic and elaborate structures in history. Notre Dame senior Maria Martellaro traveled to Italy and France this past summer in attempt to unravel this mystery for her senior thesis on the labyrinth and its role in late medieval religious architecture. “How did this [element of a] classical, very pagan myth,” she asks, “work its way into becoming a Catholic symbol?”
The Ambrosian Library in Milan hosted 11 Notre Dame graduate students over spring break, where they inspected and read manuscripts dating back to the fifth century A.D. Through the generosity and expertise of their hosts, the class saw some of the great treasures of the library including the Ambrosian fifth-century bible, the poet Petrarch’s copy of Virgil’s works, and Leonardo d Vinci’s notebooks.
On the final day of his latest six-week excavation season in historic Butrint, Albania, University of Notre Dame Assistant Professor David Hernández says “the face of a goddess appeared.” The four assistants who had a hand in the discovery? Suzanna Pratt, Patrick Conry, Matt Wieck, and Wesley Wood—all undergraduates in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters.
Edward Larkin, a biological sciences major from East Lansing, Mich., has been named valedictorian of the 2011 University of Notre Dame graduating class and will present the valedictory address during Commencement ceremonies May 22 (Sunday) at Notre Dame Stadium. Larkin, who also carries a supplementary major in classical civilization, earned a 4.0 grade point average. He is an active member of the Haiti Working Group at Notre Dame and writes a bi-weekly column for the Observer student newspaper in which he expounds on the intersection of science, technology, and society with a special focus on the cultural and social implications of modern scientific advances.
"Studying in city of Classical importance – such as Rome, Athens, or Cairo – is absolutely essential for a Classics major at Notre Dame or any other university. It brings the history to life and it is essential to gaining a full appreciation for Classical Studies. As a student and as a person, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made."
Responding to continued student demand for graduate-level courses in the languages and cultures at the foundation of Western civilization, Notre Dame is launching a new master’s degree program in classics.
For most Notre Dame students, a typical Friday afternoon in the spring might include a little Frisbee or pick-up basketball, maybe a movie, certainly dinner with friends. But something a little more atypical attracted more than 200 students to gather on March 26 of this year: 50 young classicists presented “A Night of Greek and Roman Comedy” to a capacity crowd of their fellow students.
“The merits of firsthand exposure to the art and architecture of ancient Rome are hard to articulate, but there is something affective about the experience that raises questions and inspires critical thought beyond a textbook reading,“ wrote Tracy Jennings, a senior classics major, in a journal she kept while traveling through Rome in October.