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German Refugee Classicists

Eva Lehmann Fiesel and Ruth Erika Fiesel

Allgemein: Kostenlos

This presentation illuminates the extraordinary lives and legacies of two German-born classicists, Eva Lehmann Fiesel and her daughter Ruth Erika Fiesel, warmly welcomed here in the United States as refugees from the Nazis and their "race laws" in 1934. A gifted specialist in Etruscan studies born in 1891, Eva Fiesel died in 1937, seven months after assuming a post as Visiting Associate Professor of Classics at the all-female Bryn Mawr College outside of Philadelphia, unable to fulfill her immense scholarly promise. Ruth, who was born in 1921 and died in 1994, earned her own BA in classics from Bryn Mawr in 1942, subsequently availing herself of opportunities to undertake graduate work in classics in both the United States and abroad. Yet she ultimately opted to teach Latin at the pre-collegiate level and work as in secondary school administration rather than pursue a PhD. and university career in classics. 

How and why do the achievements of this mother-daughter dyad matter not only to the profession of classics worldwide, but also to women’s history, and that of our country? Scholar Judith Peller Hallett will focus on the role of gender in the emigration of German refugee classicists to the United States, explore both similarities and differences between the study of classics in German and American educational institutions, and reflect on how generational as well as socio-cultural change shaped the shared commitment to classical studies – and its glorious interdisciplinarity – by members of the same family. 

About the Speaker

Judith Peller Hallett is Professor of Classics and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Emerita at the University of Maryland, College Park. She holds a BA in Latin from Wellesley College and an AM and PhD in Classical Philology from Harvard University. She has published widely in the areas of Latin language and literature; women, the family and sexuality in Greco-Roman antiquity; and the study and reception of classics in the Anglophone world. A former Blegen Visiting Scholar in the Department of Classics at Vassar College and Suzanne Deal Booth Resident Scholar at the Center for Intercollegiate Studies in Rome, she has also held fellowships from the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  A 2013 collection of essays from Routledge— Domina Illustris: Latin Literature, Gender and Reception, edited by Donald Lateiner, Barbara Gold and Judith Perkins—celebrates her academic career.

You may read more of her work here, An extraordinary mother and daughter, saved alive: the German refugee classicists Eva Lehmann Fiesel (1891-1937) and Ruth Erika Fiesel (1921-1994).