Centrepiece Online | Summer 2012
A Conversation with Jane Wilson JoyceCharles J. Luellen Professor of Classics Emerita
Jane Joyce, far right, taking questions from the audience with the
cast after a production of her Beyond the Blue Mountains in March.
Jane Wilson Joyce comes from a long line of academics and teachers, including, she learned fairly recently, a Cambridge classics don who specialized in the Roman poet Juvenal. Perhaps the Fates had something to do with her career as a classicist.
She grew up in a small town in Tennessee, majored in Latin at Bryn Mawr, and joined the Centre faculty in 1978 straight from graduate school at the University of Texas-Austin. Immediately she set about drawing her students into the excitement and energy she found in the ancient world using creative and sometimes untraditional methods. One popular class involved the death of Julius Caesar taught as a crime scene investigation. Last term’s offerings included a class on mythology and monsters.
She almost quit graduate school to become a baker, but after 34 successful years in the classroom, it’s clear that Joyce found her professional calling. She loves to watch “those new synapses sizzle and snap” and “thrives on seeing ideas unfold in the minds of young people.”
In between well-received translations of Pharsalia, by Lucan (whom she calls “savagely funny”) and Thebaid: A Song of Thebes, an epic by Statius (both published by Cornell University Press), she has also written two books of poetry, Beyond the Blue Mountains (Gnomon Press), recently adapted for stage, and The Quilt Poems (Mill Springs Press, reissued by Gnomon Press).
Retirement brings more reading and writing: translating the Aeneid, writing new plays of her own, and getting online her graduate school mentor’s unfinished Latin textbook, which she used for many years. “I still think it is an excellent approach to language learning,” she says.
I loved Latin from the minute I saw it on the page for the first time in ninth grade. It fed my love of the English language and, unlike French, it was something I could pronounce correctly.
The Greco-Roman world lasted for a very long time—enough time to produce artists, writers, thinkers, builders, warriors, politicians of the first caliber, minds with which we can still engage and from which we can still profit. Catullus and Horace, for example, step off the page, fresh and individual still, 2,000 years later.
A translator stands between the author and the reader, and so must try to cast more light than shadow. There is absolutely no substitute for crawling over a text word by word (sometimes syllable by syllable), trying to capture similar sounds and sensations, impressions and images. Translation gives one (perhaps erroneously) the feeling that one has entered into collaboration with an artist.
Centre faculty talk to one another both formally and informally about teaching, and we do so a LOT. The biggest change [in my teaching] has been of course in technology and, second to that, in decreased formality in American society generally. My biggest concession: until, say, 15 years ago, I did not require daily written homework assignments from my beginning Latin students.
My lucky break was getting the job at Centre. I already knew quite a bit about the College before the announcement of the opening appeared in my graduate school mailbox, since one of my best friends in high school had attended Centre. Also, I had made it my business to be VERY NICE to the departmental secretary, so she made sure to put this job posting in my mailbox.
My favorite class to teach has been . . . all of them! I loved it all, except possibly HUM 120, and there I loved the material and the students, but was wildly anxious about my ability to bring the two together.
My most memorable moment in the classroom is this: I was teaching Roman Culture, and we had arrived at the unit on Roman religion. I divided the class into two groups—two tribes—and sent them off to discuss what was their greatest problem, what god would they call on to help them solve it, and what ritual would they use to get the message across. I then put on a disguise and took a “sacred object” to each tribe—one got a bell, one a marble egg. The egg tribe turned out to contain only one male, so that tribe felt that their greatest problem was to find some more men; naturally, they prayed to Venus. Their ritual involved passing the marble egg from hand to hand around a circle, and the last woman DROPPED THE EGG. There was the most electric, horrified moment of absolute silence—I could not have done or said ANYthing to get across more clearly the notion of ritualistic action, which must be carried out perfectly to have effect.
A Conversation with Vince DiMartinoW. George Matton Professor of Music Emeritus
Happenstance—and hard work—have directed much of trumpet virtuoso Vince DiMartino’s life.
As a junior high student on Long Island, N.Y., DiMartino took up trumpet only because there were too many drums in the band that year. And while he enjoyed music, his plan was to become a dentist, like his best friend’s father.
Then came a summer as an exchange student in Bogata, Colombia, when he realized how important music was to him.
“I had no band to play with and was really missing it,” he recalls. “I found a jazz club that would allow me to play [and] made them feed all my exchange-student friends as pay. I think that was the moment.”
Another turning point was a summer job with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra while a student at the Eastman School of Music. After a concert in Lexington, he wound up chatting briefly with the head of the University of Kentucky music department.
“Little did I know that I would be called to fill in a one-year, last-minute appointment [at U.K.] that would last 21 years,” he says. “And another 19 at Centre!”
He joined the Centre faculty in 1993 as its first distinguished artist-in-residence and was named to the Matton Professorship in 1996.
His career has included a hectic performance schedule of solo stints in jazz and classical trumpet and cornet. He’s toured with the Boston Pops and the Cincinnati Pops and played with such top musicians as Dizzy Gillespie, Stevie Wonder, and Ella Fitzgerald, to name a few. Top of the list for DiMartino, however, is former Tonight Show band leader Doc Severinsen, whom DiMartino calls his role model. He was reunited with his mentor in June when the two performed together at Danville’s Great American Brass Band Festival. The 23rd annual festival was dedicated to DiMartino, a co-founder, in honor of his retirement.
For his next chapter, he offers a lengthy list: “Concentrating on our DiMartino-Osland Jazz Orchestra, designing trumpets for special musical situations, starting a new book, seeing my kids, wife, and family as much as possible. . . .” It’s clear he will still be on a schedule, albeit a slightly different one.
Still, it’s not all music for DiMartino. There’s also good food and friends with whom to share it. His motto: “Music is something that you do between meals.”
When I first started teaching at the collegiate level, I was 23. As a youthful and excited teacher, I could not understand why everyone did not practice three to four hours a day, listen two or three more, and then get together with friends and talk about music until you dropped!
My [high school] band director made me want to strive to be the best I could be. He knew I did not like to be shown things I could not play, so each week he would present me with a problem. I would not stop practicing until he said it was good—at which time he presented a new problem.
I am a schedule person. It relaxes me so I can fit more into the time I have without stressing out others and myself.
Every person can appreciate music and/or the arts if their education stresses its importance regularly. This can be accomplished in any area by mentoring with people like we have teaching at Centre. You will find a love for something that will last forever with a work ethic to match it.
Teaching is really what I have always loved. It is so wonderful to see what happens over the course of the career of a student. I also like hearing back from them—some almost weekly.
I have found ways to be encouraging even when things are not going so well. Everyone has a different reason to take lessons or to be in an ensemble. If you can work toward that goal, every lesson is fun.
My best moment as a teacher happens fairly regularly. It is the moment when someone lights up with an emotional statement through music.
I was very unsure about why a place like Centre would want a performer like me on its faculty. With little or no classroom teaching experience, I was not sure if I could ever become a real asset to the College. So I asked Dean John Ward, “What is it that you want me to do at Centre?”
I knew that I wanted to be part of the faculty when his answer was, “I am not quite sure, but won’t it be fun to see what happens!”
Richard Bradshaw, the history professor who sparked many students’ interest in the Central African Republic with his classes on campus and in country, also achieved emeritus status this year. He was a Peace Corps volunteer and later employee in the C.A.R. and Ivory Coast before joining the Centre faculty in 1995.
Vol.53, No. 2
In this issue
- Congratulations, Graduate. Now What?
- Ormond Beatty-1835
- The Marrying Kind
- Endpiece: Everything I Need to Know about Poker I Learned at Centre