Message From the Chair
The Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (CNELC) sends along its warmest greetings and kind regards to all of our alumni near and far!
As you know, our department is a broad, diverse and yet cohesive set of four program units: Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies (CANES), Arabic, Hebrew and Persian. Our department is a vibrant one, in terms of teaching, research and activities with the academic guild. Along those lines, we have been delighted to be back to in-person teaching this academic year, after a year of teaching virtually. And this spring saw the launch of an exciting new combined degree program in CANES and Museum Studies. In short, life is good and getting better all the time.
Within this newsletter, you will read about some of the faculty and student activities and achievements of this past year, and we intend to continue to build on these for the coming year. We are grateful that you are taking the time to read this newsletter and we would love to hear from you. Please send us a note and let us know how you are doing!
Chair of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Maggie Thielens Begins Theological Studies at Harvard University
Maggie Thielens, BA ’21, a former double major in Arabic and Middle East Studies, began pursuing her master’s in theological studies (MTS) at Harvard University last fall, after taking several courses in Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies.
Maggie shared her GW experiences with us:
“Though I once fancied myself a future politician or CIA operative, I realized during my time at GW that policy was not where my passions lay. I better enjoyed history and Arabic so I took classes that more closely aligned with those interests and enrolled in several courses in Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies during my senior year, hoping to reconcile my passion for history and culture with the background in Middle East politics I’d acquired over three years. It clicked for me. Not a month into Dr. Christopher Rollston’s class on Literature of the Ancient Near East, he became an advisor to me, encouraging me to apply to divinity school and assuring me my Arabic education would serve me well. It did, and now less than a year later I’m living in Cambridge and I will begin my MTS at Harvard University in the fall. The CANES and Arabic Programs at GW have supported me beyond the knowledge I gained in their curricula and I am so grateful. Raise High!”
SJ Matthews Delivers Commencement Address to Class of 2020
SJ Matthews, BA ’20, delivered the commencement address for the Class of 2020 during the delayed October 2021 commencement on the National Mall. She earned her BA in classical studies and now works on Capitol Hill as a legislative correspondent for Representative Jennifer Wexton of Virginia. She was profiled in GW Today.
Alumni Class Notes
- Alexander Dolan, BA ’15, moved to New York City in the summer of 2021 where he works as a French and Arabic language research analyst for an economic data company focusing on the operations of global markets, stock exchanges and central banks.
- Chance Williams, BA ’16, is a project officer working with the Liberation Route Europe foundation in The Netherlands on developing sustainable tourism products and preserving historic sites from the Second World War in Europe.
- James (Drew) Zebley, BA ’11, is a general surgery resident at The George Washington Hospital with plans to pursue a career in trauma surgery.
- Eric and Diane Cline spent the fall 2021 semester in Los Angeles, doing research at the Getty Villa in Malibu. The library is set in a house where J. Paul Getty lived, and the adjacent museum is set in a replica of a Roman Villa from Pompeii.
- Elise A. Friedland was quoted by Smithsonian Magazine in the article “The Tragic Irony of the U.S. Capitol’s Peace Monument.”
- Jennifer Tobkin's article “A Man of Our Times: Muḥammad b. Dāwūd al-Iṣbahānī’s Pioneering Vision of Male Love” appeared in the November 2021 issue of the Journal of Arabic Literature.
- Christopher Rollston was quoted by The New York Times in the article “Is a Long-Dismissed Forgery Actually the Oldest Known Biblical Manuscript?”; by National Geographic in the article “Daring ‘rescue’ mission results in Dead Sea Scroll finds, other rare discoveries”; and by Livescience in the article “Did a scholar really find an early copy of the Ten Commandments?”
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