‘Riding through the Ancient World’

U of W classics department hosts online lectures

Dr. Carolyn Willekes from Mount Royal University will present a lecture on horses in the ancient world for the New Directions in Classics speaker series.

On Feb. 5 from 3 to 4:30 p.m., the University of Winnipeg (U of W) Department of Classics is hosting a Zoom event entitled “Riding through the Ancient World.” Dr. Carolyn Willekes from Mount Royal University will give a short lecture followed by a more conversational question-and-answer period.

“Riding through the Ancient World” is part of the department’s annual New Directions in Classics series, held since 2017. The series’ five events for 2020 through 2021 are being held on Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dr. Peter J. Miller, chair of the Department of Classics and co-founder of the series, says his goal has always been for these events to reach beyond his department. 

“It’s aimed mostly at students from outside of our discipline, other faculty members and staff and, of course, members of the general public,” he says.

This years’ New Directions in Classics series began in October with a presentation by Dr. Matt Gibbs and was followed by Dr. Conor Whately’s presentation in November. 

“Our idea is to get speakers talking about new research,” Miller says. 

“It’s not about ‘nitty-gritty scholars-talking-to-scholars work,’ but rather people who are interested in ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Mediterranean in general and who can take that and translate it to the general public,” he says. 

Miller says he wanted Willekes to present for a number of years. 

“She is doing the kind of work that this series is really about,” he adds. 

Willekes’ talk will focus on horses in the ancient world. 

“The horse is an animal that a lot of people feel a connection to,” she says. 

“As much as my research is couched in academia, in the methodology, in the Latin and all of that, it’s a topic that you need to have some real-world experience to be able to really grapple with,” Willekes says. She mentions her own experience as an avid equestrian as the driving force behind her research and passion for the subject.

“What I find particularly rewarding and fascinating is, because I’ve had these opportunities to travel to so many places and visit with people from a wide variety of different cultural backgrounds, (that) though I come in as an outsider, the horse quickly becomes a unifier,” Willekes says.

The final two events of this academic year will be held in March. On March 5, Dr. Jessica Romney from MacEwan University will present on “Wine, Song, and Self.” The March 26 event will feature Dr. Michael MacKinnon from the U of W and his presentation “Reconstructing the role of dogs and cats in classical antiquity from archaeological remains.”

More information on the New Directions in Classics series can be found at uwinnipeg.ca/classics/new-directions-in-classics-2020-21.html.

Published in Volume 75, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 27, 2021)

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