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Graduating Award Recipient: Jakob Barnes Vic 2T1

Jun. 28

Like many undergraduate students, Jakob Barnes Vic 2T1 did not have a particular academic goal in mind when he began his studies at Vic, but after taking a variety of classes in different disciplines, he found his academic footing in the Department of Classics.

“Initially, I was attracted to English literature, but I ended up taking classes from a lot of different departments and bounced around a little bit, which I enjoyed. I ended up settling in classics because I liked the reading material so much, especially Greek poetry, and I wanted to acquire the language skills to read it.”

Barnes’ interest in ancient literature grew after enrolling in Professor Peter Bing’s class on ancient epic poetry which took place, like many of his classes, close to home on the Victoria College campus. “I remember it because of how he imbued the literature with a sense of mystery and excitement, fluidly moving between so many different approaches in the past 100 years without leaving the impression that these completely foreign texts have been—or will be—cracked. I’ve had other, similar classes, but the feeling of freedom from that class, early enough on in my undergrad, was helpful when I was trying to orient myself in the world of classics.”

Not surprisingly, Barnes ended up majoring in Greek and combined that with a double minor in Latin and philosophy. He rounded out his fourth year with Professor Kenneth Yu’s class on Greek tragedy, in which students read Euripides’s Hippolytus. In preparation for that class, Barnes spent part of his summer reading other Greek tragedies as well as scholarly works on the subject. He came across Euripides and the Politics of Form, a book by Professor Victoria Wohl, in which she writes about some of Euripides’s strangest formal decisions in relation to the political ruptures and aporias in Imperial Athens.

Barnes’ interest in this subject led him to apply to graduate school: “I proposed writing about Ion because I was curious as to why Euripides might take this comic direction, particularly in the late 5th century B.C.E., at which point the Athenian empire was pretty clearly foundering.”

This fall Barnes will begin a master’s degree in classics at U of T, and this will involve taking some language courses and electives, most of them with other students in the PhD program, as well as a supervised dissertation and work as a teaching assistant.

Barnes admits that he will miss Vic.. He enjoyed attending events on the Vic campus, especially a poetry reading and book signing given by Anne Carso at the Isabel Bader Theatre: “I feel like I have a lot of interests in common with people at Vic,” he says. Barnes’ also worked as an editor at the Varsity which introduced him to many other students and helped him to feel more integrated into the broader, University community. Fortunately, as a graduate student at U of T, he can still study on the Vic campus at the Pratt library, walk through Queen’s Park and maybe even enjoy an occasional lunch break at Ned’s Café.

Jakob Barnes is the recipient of the Wilson Gold Medal for achieving the highest overall A standing in classics.

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