February 11, 2022 | NEWS | By Will Sylvain
Colorado College professor of classics, Sanjaya Thakur, has been awarded the Elizabeth A. Whitehead Distinguished Scholar fellowship through the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). As a Whitehead Scholar, he will be spending the 2022-23 school year in Greece mentoring American graduate students and working on research projects with fellow classics scholars.
Thakur is excited to gain valuable experience in Athens and bring what he learns back to the classroom to provide his students with more enriching courses.
“You don’t want to give people just a small perspective [of the ancient Mediterranean world],” saidThakur. “The broader a perspective that you can bring, the much more realistic a study it is of a place, a culture. To me, what’s really important is being able to show students a much wider viewpoint than what one might normally get.”
Thakur has been at CC since 2008 and teaches courses in many areas, including Latin, Greek, ancient sports, and gender and sexuality in antiquity. He also serves as Director of the Classical Summer School at the American Academy, Rome, and co-teaches a CC summer program in Italy.
Next year will not be Thakur’s first experience in Athens with the ASCSA; he spent a year in residence there in 2004 as a Fulbright Fellow and has returned several times since. As a Fellow, Thakur studied the building of the Parthenon next to the ruins of an ancient temple on the Athenian Acropolis after the Persian invasion. This architecture represents the Greeks’ attempt to honor the past while moving forward from tragedy.
Now, Thakur studies athletics in Homer’s “Odyssey” and the depictions of injuries in ancient sports. Next year, he will work with graduate students and other classics scholars who, like himself, have been recognized for their outstanding expertise and dedication to the field.
Thakur is particularly enthusiastic about being able to bring images of Greece back to campus with him, allowing students to visualize the subjects of their studies and prepare them for their own future visits.
“When I first went, I knew where everything was, and it was crazy to see the city go from flat – looking at slides, or looking at a map – to 3D,” Thakur said. He hopes that he can provide his CC students with a similar opportunity, one that he didn’t have as an undergraduate, to see the world in new ways and travel abroad.
Students hoping to take a block with Professor Thakur have missed their window for now, but on the bright side, his Ancient Sports and Entertainment block will be even more engaging if he comes back with a relic from the first Olympic Games – but no promises.
Thakur hopes that this fellowship will help him provide the best possible education for his students while also giving him a chance to do what he loves.
“I always encourage students to find those immersive experiences, whatever your passion is, and do that,” said Thakur. “And obviously, this is mine.”
For students who wish to follow Professor Thakur into the world of Ancient Greece, the ASCSA also offers undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities, over the summer and during the school year, to travel to over 150 different sites to learn about Greek language, history and culture.