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Professor looks at gender equity in the field of classics

January 23, 2013

MEDIA CONTACT: Hilary Dickinson at or 608-363-2849

Gender equity in the field of classics and the myth of Seneca’s Medea are two research topics on which Assistant Professor of Classics Lisl Walsh has recently published.

The gender equity issue began as a research project Walsh undertook as a graduate student at the University of Southern California. Since no one had ever conducted a study of the Women’s Classical Caucus newsletters, Walsh−given access to newsletters from the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s from her mentor−decided to examine the history and present state of gender equity with the field.

Several years later, Walsh expanded that project for a feature article in the 40th anniversary edition of the newsletter (now a journal called Cloelia). Among the information she learned, she discovered an immense inequity in the field in the ‘70s and ‘80s when it came to hiring women in tenure track positions−something that has improved greatly over the last forty years. However, she asserts now 30 percent of women hold tenured positions compared to 70 percent of men.

This project examining women in more modern times was a different experience for Walsh who is accustomed to studying women from 2,000-2,500 years ago, such as the Greek mythological character of Medea written about in Seneca’s play.

Last fall, she published a condensed version of her dissertation in the journal Ramus that analyzed Medea’s gender, ethnicity, relationship to divinity, and sense of self. She plans to expand the dissertation into a book one day incorporating modern context into the ancient myth.

As for other future projects, Walsh is working on a pedagogical article on Latin instruction. It will explain a new concept for teaching, which she describes as like the Super Mario Brothers video game.

“Students have to get 90 percent on a level exam before I let them move on to the next material,” Walsh said. “The plus side is they get to set their own schedule so it taps into Beloit’s (mission of students) taking ownership of their education. They are responsible for deciding what they’re doing for homework, when they study, how much they study, and when they take exams.”

Click here to read Walsh’s Cloelia article, and click here to learn how to purchase the volume of Ramus with Walsh’s Medea article.

SOURCE:  Lisl Walsh is an assistant professor of classics who also teaches in the women’s and gender studies program. She earned a Ph.D. in classics and a graduate certificate in gender and women’s studies from the University of Southern California. Walsh’s teaching and research interests include Roman literature, understandings of the self in antiquity, and ancient gender and sexuality. Walsh can serve as a media resource on topics related to her teaching and research interests.