Students of Betsey Robinson Present Papers at Undergraduate Writing Symposium on March 26

Students Cates Saleeby and Maggie Cassidy presented papers in the panel on “Meaning in the Ancient Italian Peninsula,” in the Undergraduate Writing Symposium held Sunday, March 26, in the Commons Center with reception afterward at the John Siegenthaler Center on the Peabody campus.

In “A City Decorated with Clues: An Exploration of Roman Graffiti,” Cassidy discussed the rhetorical structure of graffiti in public and private spaces, contrasting introspective and expressive affect and effects in private and public messaging in Pompeii.

Saleeby spoke on “Representations and Ritual: The Lararia of Pompeii’s Region IX,” summarizing a detailed study of the role of household shrines and religious rituals in maintaining familial and other social bonds. Both papers were originally produced for Betsey Robinson’s First-Year Writing Seminar, History of Art 1111: Pompeii: Life and Death of a Roman City.

Robinson, associate professor of history of art and of classical and Mediterranean studies, was delighted at the quality of her students’ work and the professionalism of their presentations: “I had a great group in last fall’s writing seminar, and the papers written by Cates and Maggie were among the very best. In the competition to participate in the Writing Symposium, they earned their places with papers that combined sophisticated thinking, careful research, and clear writing—impressive for freshmen taking their first university course in art and archaeology. They are both to be congratulated for their excellent work!”

In a separate competition, Saleeby also won the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Freshman Seminar Essay Award for her paper in which she explored the interplay between the physical appearance of family shrines with the rituals performed at these domestic worship spaces. “The paper analyzes the artistic qualities of several different types of lararia and analyzes how religious rites would have been performed by members of the entire familia in a way that strengthened interpersonal bonds,” said Saleeby. “The ceremonies affected the art and vice versa.”

Held each year in late March, the Undergraduate Writing Symposium showcases exemplary writing by Vanderbilt’s undergraduates while honoring their achievements as writers and scholars.

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