Visit to Metropolitan meaningful for Schreyer Scholars in various ways

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Kyle Cornman has been enthralled with history since he was in high school, and the junior Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies (CAMS) major will spend next semester in Athens studying Greek history.

Isabelle Stull is a health policy and administration major who likes Broadway and playing the piano.

Both Schreyer Honors Scholars, and nearly four dozen other Penn State students, enjoyed a recent trip to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Daniel Falk, professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Chaiken Family Chair in Jewish Studies at Penn State, took 18 Schreyer Scholars as part of a Distinguished Honors Faculty Program, and 28 other students and eight faculty members from his department. Each student participated in two tours, with the subjects ranging from Egypt, Greek art and Rome, to gender and sexuality. 

One of the most intriguing tours, for both CAMS students and Schreyer Scholars — who represented a diversity of academic disciplines — was of an exhibit on the Etruscan civilization, which was assimilated into the Roman Republic around the fourth century B.C. The tour was led by adjunct instructor Erin Hanses, the wife of Assistant Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies Mathias Hanses and a former museum guide.

“We don’t understand their language yet fully, and so there’s a big question mark on where they came from, who they are,” Cornman said. “I didn’t know that the Met was one of the only places that had an artifact with the entire Etruscan alphabet, every single letter, which was really cool to see.”

Stull took a tour of Roman and Greek art, with focuses on power and desire, led by Mark Munn, head of the Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, and a tour on the Bible led by Falk. Her groups included both Scholars and CAMS and Jewish Studies students, which helped her add context.

“They picked up on stuff I wouldn’t,” she said, “because I was just looking at the surface level and they were able to talk about it contextually, which was neat for me to get to listen to.”

Schreyer Honors faculty direct approximately 30-40 Distinguished Honors Faculty Programs per academic year. The signup list for the Met visit filled up within a few hours of its announcement, Falk said. He was impressed by the curiosity that Scholars studying engineering, English or communications showed during the trip and in a dinner discussion afterward.

“On the one hand it’s a little bit challenging, because you realize you can’t assume anything,” said Falk, who has led similar programs on campus in previous years. “On the other hand, you’re dealing with a group of people who have a higher-than-average general knowledge. Even though most of them haven’t studied this stuff before, they’ve heard of it. 

“It’s quite fun to be able to introduce people to a world they don’t really know that much about.”

Last Updated November 20, 2017