An Undergraduate Experience at the 117th CANE Annual Meeting

Stacey Kaliabakos ‘23 Chief Opinions Editor

Alexandra Berardelli ’25 Staff Writer

Academic conferences don’t always have to be for the professors. Last weekend, we had the opportunity to attend (and present at!) the Classical Association of New England (CANE)’s annual meeting in Needham, MA. For starters, CANE is an organization for Classics scholars in the New England area who are interested in Classical languages, literature, mythology, ancient and medieval studies, reception, the list goes on and on. The two-day annual meeting was finally back in person, filled with many papers, workshops, and opportunities for networking for those enthusiastic about the Classics. Being the first annual meeting we attended in person, we’re here to tell you how it feels to take advantage of such an incredible opportunity as undergraduates studying Classics. 

Classes will come back, but attending this meeting will not. And so, on Friday, I, Alexandra, made my way to Needham for the first day of the meeting. Upon my arrival, I checked in, got my name tag, and scoped out the meeting. While I thought I knew absolutely no one there, I felt comfort to see several of my Holy Cross Classics professors attending and presenting at the meeting. Still, it felt great to come independently with the intention of promoting my own studies in Classics. I came to the first day of the meeting because I was representing the New England Classical Journal (NECJ) as one of its research associates, one of the jobs I have under the guidance of a Holy Cross professor. And, it is the same job Stacey had last year! My job today was to cut a 50th birthday cake for the journal. Sounds a little weird, but it paid off because I met so many amazing scholars. Most notably, I met several Holy Cross affiliated Classicists, from generational alums to iconic retired professors. 

The cake job paid off. Stacey and I came back early the next day, dressed to impress and ready to present our research at the meeting. Both of our papers emerged from courses at the college, and we can each speak about how thrilling the presentation experience was. For me, it was thrilling, and something I’ve never done before. It was different from presenting to my peers. Sure, the stakes were probably higher. But, since everyone was doing something so different and unique to themselves, we can remind ourselves that we know our paper the best, and constructive feedback is the best that can happen to our work. 

Since I, Stacey, had the 100 Days Ball on Friday, I only was able to attend the conference on Saturday. I woke up around 7am to travel to Needham, nervous but excited to see what the day would bring. After I checked in, Alexandra and I sat through an excellent presentation called “Social Justice Standards & Ready-to-Use DEI Lesson Plans,” which was about how to encourage equity and inclusion in the classround through classics. We moved on to the next session, where Alexandra presented her brilliant paper entitled, “Constructing a Threat to the Republic: Cicero’s Objectification of Clodia in the Pro Caelio.” Alexandra’s presentation was extremely well-received, and to my delight, many of the audience members (including several well-known and respected Classics professors and scholars) asked intriguing and thought-provoking questions that left both of us as undergraduates with a lot to think about and research.

CANE also presented me an opportunity to reconnect with an old friend from high school whom I had not seen since before the pandemic. She had seen my name in the program online and reached out to me before the conference to ask if I would be free to meet up during the scheduled lunch break. This surprise was amazing, to say the least. I was able to catch up with her and share my experience as a Classics major at Holy Cross while she told me about the Classics program at her school as well. Being able to talk about my academic interests with a fellow friend and student from another school in that type of environment was very illuminating and worthwhile. 

I was slated to present in the last session of the day and was actually the last person to present a paper at the whole conference. My paper was called “Love, Ladies, and Lucretius,” and I discussed the Epicurean philosopher Lucretius’ views on love expressed in his famous work De Rerum Natura. My paper was well-received and I was fortunate enough to have several graduate students and professors come up to me after my presentation to ask questions and even recommend further reading to supplement my developing ideas. 

Overall, participating in these types of academic events is immensely fruitful and beneficial. Not only is it something to put on your resume or CV, but it is also an experience that you will never forget and an opportunity to meet new people who are passionate about similar subjects. I learned so much during my day at CANE, and I would recommend attending an annual meeting if you are interested in the field of classics. The next CANE Annual Meeting will be taking place on March 22-23, 2024, at the University of New Hampshire.

Featured image courtesy of https://caneweb.org/annualmeeting/

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