Student Spotlight: Vanessa Larsen

Photo Credit:
by Ellen Kratzer Wed, 08/21/2019 - 11:30

Major: CLRS

Minors: Fine Art, Biology

Year in school: Senior

Hometown: Lincoln, NE

Why did you choose classics?  
I have always been interested in classical mythology and society from a very young age, but I never even considered studying it in college. I started university with studying art, which was my passion, and biology, which was my fascination. Yet after a while, I slowly started to think to myself more and more, "Do I really want to do this forever?" In the midst of this mental dilemma, I took Classical Mythology as an ACE course. I found myself becoming active in the class, looking forward to doing assignments, and even doing my own research on the side. After finishing the class with an A+ and the good graces of the professor, I decided to declare a minor in classics. Once I had taken all those credits, I realized I didn't want to stop — not ever — so I switched majors.

What is your favorite classics course?
CLAS440: Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World. In this course, we read the widest variety of ancient texts of any class I've taken so far. The readings ranged from the pedantic works of Plato and Livy to lewd graffiti scribbled on the walls of a Pompeian brothel. As well, we read quite a bit of contemporary works, which we then compared to ancient writings. Finding parallels between ancient and modern society is, to me, one of the greater joys of studying classics.

Who have been some of your strongest mentors or role models here?
Definitely Dr. Loar. He was the professor of my first classics course, and I certainly wouldn't be involved in the department had it not been for him. I made a good impression on him by getting phenomenal exam scores and not being afraid to speak my mind in a 250-person class (the Mask of Agamemnon is a fake, sorry Loar). He tried persuading me to declare a major for quite a while, but I managed to convince him that I am not a good enough writer for it. That is, until I had to take an essay-based class with him, and he pretty much said, "Okay, what the heck, you lied." In that class (the gender class), he helped me hone my writing and critical thinking skills. After this, there were basically no more excuses I could make, so I declared.

Do you have any research experience?
I am leading a UCARE project where the goal is to create a multimedia eBook compiling a performance history of Sophocles' Antigone. The eBook will be organized by how each performance chose to express the themes of the play and how these themes relate to the socio-political context of the time and place it was performed.

Do you have work or internship experience?
I work at a video game store, so sometimes guys will come in and try to flex their knowledge of classics on me. It's really nice being able to say "well, actually..." to a mansplainer.

Have you studied abroad?
I went to Oxford, England with my UCARE group. There, we used the Oxford University's Archive of the Performance of Greek and Roman Drama (APGRD) to collect data for our eBook. Having the opportunity to handle documents which were up to 200-years-old was very thrilling to me, in the nerdiest way possible.

What are you involved in on campus?
Classics club, UCARE, and intramural sports. 

What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I plan on attending grad school for classics, linguistics, or maybe archaeology if possible. I may take a break for a year after undergrad to save money and properly fill out applications. After grad school, the ultimate goal is to become a professor or researcher of some sort.