Lisl Walsh

Associate Professor of Classics

 Pronouns: she/her and they/them  Email:  Phone: 608-363-2262  Office: Room 105, World Affairs Center

I began college as a math major, and I still love advanced calculus. But when I failed linear algebra, I switched majors to Latin. Both subjects rely on similar skills for their mastery. Graduate school in classics followed at the recommendation of professors, who recognized my ability to make connections among Latin texts. Graduate school suited me intellectually, and a teaching-assistant fellowship paid the bills while I was there. I focused my studies on Roman poetry, but a classics Ph.D. also requires ancient Greek, so I can read and teach that as well. I remain fascinated by the ways in which ancient poets manipulated language and images to express themselves. After earning my doctorate, I was hired by Beloit College to contribute to both the classics department and the gender studies program. My scholarly and teaching interests continue to span both.

In my classes, students get to explore what kinds of lessons the “classics” teach us: the Odyssey, for example, offers lessons about bad leadership, while the Iliad shows both the glory of success and the damage that the pursuit of glory can cause to other humans. With ancient medical texts, we reflect on how we define “health” now vs. then, but we also learn about the valuable impact of small acts of service, such as caring for a neighbor. Ultimately, I hope that by studying classics, my students will feel more aware about how we define a successful life and better able to decide for themselves what success will look like as adults. Perhaps being a good human, attentive to others, is worthy enough.

Scholarship and teaching are part of my identity, but my life is made more whole by investments outside of academia: removing invasive species from the small forest in my housing cooperative, building and fixing stuff, and, in summer, fostering monarch caterpillars until they mature into butterflies. I sew, am a member of a band, and make occasional movies as part of the Madison/Wisconsin 48-hour film project. The classics can help you live a rich life!

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