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Brown University Mellon-Sawyer Seminar, “Animal Magnetism: The Emotional Ecology of Animals and Humans"


Postdoctoral Fellow


Susan Curry received a BA in German from Grinnell College (1998), an MA in Classics from the University of Kansas (2001), and an MA in Modern German Culture (2007) and PhD in Classical Studies (2009) from Indiana University.  She has been a Fellow (2009) of the American Academy in Rome where she completed her dissertation entitled, “Human Identities and Animal Others in the 2nd c. CE.”  Since 2009, Sue has been a Lecturer in Classics at the University of New Hampshire and, more recently, a Faculty Fellow in Culture and Sustainability through the Sustainability Institute at UNH.  Sue has reviewed several books on non-human animals and the environment of the ancient Mediterranean and has recently completed an article on the animalization of the emperor Nero in Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars, which will be published in 2014.  As Postdoctoral Fellow, Sue is teaching two courses in the Program in Early Cultures this year exploring the emotional ecology of animals and humans, “Animal Acts” (Fall 2013) and “Animals in the Ancient City: Interdependence in the Urban Environment” (Spring 2014), and is beginning a new project investigating animal sounds and other non-linguistic interventions into human and animal relationships in the ancient Greco-Roman world.   


Graduate Fellows


Alyce de Carteret is a third-year graduate student in the Department of Anthropology. Originally from Aurora, CO, she has received an A.M. in Anthropology from Brown University (2013), an M.St. in Archaeology from the University of Oxford (2011), and an A.B. in Anthropology from Harvard University (2010). Her research focuses on the archaeology of the ancient Maya civilization, with a specific interest in non-elite households during the Classic period (ca. 250 - 900 CE). Since 2012, she has conducted archaeological research at the Classic Maya site of El Zotz, Peten, Guatemala. As a research assistant for the Animal Magnetism seminar, Alyce hopes to investigate the conceptual role of the animal kingdom in ancient Maya society, particularly as it manifests in the domestic sphere in the form of zoomorphic figurines and whistles.


Michiel van Veldhuizen received his BA in the Humanities from University College Utrecht, the Netherlands, with a thesis on the problem of evil and the impassibility of God in late antique thought. He then left his native polder for the skyscrapers of America, and after eventful summers excavating in Croatia and presenting at the Symposium Cumanum on the cult of Diana Nemorensis, he graduated from Brandeis University in 2012 with an MA in Classical Studies. The title of his thesis, “A Theology of Memory: the Concept of Memory in the Greek Experience of the Divine,” suggests his broad interest in the intellectual history of antiquity, particularly at the crossroads of philosophy and religion. Now a second-year Ph.D. student in Classics at Brown, he is excited to expand his horizon through the Mellon Sawyer Seminar, since the conceptualization of animals as ‘the other’ has left fascinating traces from Aristotle to Augustine. From prophetizing bee-maidens to Athenian girls imitating she-bears, ancient thought and ritual connects humans and animals in ways that continue to challenge our understanding of not only what it means to be animal, but also what it means to be human.


Clive Vella received his B.A. with Honors (2004) and M.A. with distinction (2009) in Archaeology from the University of Malta.  His graduate dissertation was the first research-driven study in the Maltese Islands to deal with lithic tools and their subsequent effects on prehistoric interpretations.  In 2008-2009, he worked on grant-funded research at the University Degli Studi Di Roma “La Sapienza”.  Clive has numerous years of CRM and post-excavation experience in Malta and the U.S.  He has also participated in research excavations in Southern Italy (Chiancudda 2009 and Coppa Nevigata 2007-2009), Gibraltar (2009) and Jordon (2011-2013).  He is currently a staff researcher at the Tas-Silg excavation led by the Missione Archeologica Italiana a Malta.  Presently, Clive is involved in the Pantelleria Excavation Project (2012-2013) as Assistant Director, which is an undergraduate field school project organized by Brock University and focused on the arrival of the Phoenicians on Pantelleria during the Iron Age.  He is also studying the extensive prehistoric lithic material recovered by the Brown University Petra Archaeological Project in Jordon.  His research interests are focused on the Late Neolithic to Late Bronze Age Western Mediterranean, especially offshore islands and their role in relation to the Italian peninsula.  He studies the effects of islands on their settlers, the powerful act of voyaging, and expressions of inequality in later prehistory.