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Blackwell to work with Leipzig University as part of Mellon grant

Furman University Classics professor Dr. Christopher W. Blackwell will collaborate with faculty at Leipzig University (Germany), which was awarded a $204,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The grant will fund research on tools and techniques for analyzing ancient texts. The collaborative project is headed by Dr. Charlotte Schuber of the Department of Ancient History at Leipzig, and Blackwell, who is the Louis G. Forgione University Professor of Classics at Furman.

The focus of the project is Plutarch’s biography of Pericles, an ancient Greek text from the 1st century CE.

Says Blackwell, “With any ancient text, scholars and students regularly want to perform certain kinds of analyses. How does the text differ from one manuscript to another? Where does the text quote, or refer to other ancient works of literature? What are the features of the language, the vocabulary, the author’s style? What historical events are mentioned in the text, and are those accounts consistent with others?”

“The Leipzig/Furman project will focus on how to perform these analyses in such a way that the detailed results can be shared and compared across computer networks. For example, two scholars might read the same ancient Greek sentence differently due to the disparity in understanding the sentence’s syntax. The goal of the project is to make it possible for scholars to document their understanding of the sentence’s structure, compare their differing structures, and see precisely where they agree and disagree,” adds Blackwell.

Blackwell says the research team chose Plutarch’s “Life of Pericles” for the text’s importance in Greek history, the history of democracy, and the history of the war between Athens and Sparta. “But the project’s aim is to create tools that will work for any ancient or modern texts, in any language,” explains Blackwell.

Blackwell will be on sabbatical during the 2016-2017 academic year, working in Greenville and in Leipzig.

For further information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at (864) 294-3107.

About Christopher Blackwell
A faculty member since 1995, Dr. Blackwell is the Louis G. Forgione University Professor of Classics at Furman. His academic interests include Homer and  Greek Epic, Digital Library Infrastructures, Greek History (Athenian Democracy, Alexander the Great), Ancient Scholarship, Collaborative Research,  and  Historical Botany. He holds a bachelor’s from Marlboro College (Vt.) and a doctorate from Duke University.

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