Colorado College Associate Professor of Classics Sanjaya Thakur has been appointed director of the Classical Summer School at the American Academy, Rome.
The American Academy is among the preeminent institutions in Rome and is a leading American overseas research center for independent studies and advanced inquiry in the fine arts and humanities. Thakur, who will continue as associate professor and chair of CC’s Classics Department, joins the notable list of professors of classics and archaeology who have held the position, which was first established in 1923. As a recognized expert in Roman history, literature, and archaeology, he will teach a five-week course each summer with Rome serving as his classroom.
Appointed earlier this year after a national search, Thakur, who will serve a three-year term, begins at the Academy in June of 2021 with a group comprised of graduate students, high school Latin teachers, and some advanced undergraduates. The program takes participants to various locations around Rome and the local environs, and the itinerary includes such major sites as the Colosseum, Pantheon, and Imperial Fora, but also incorporates many others that appeal to specialists in the discipline. Participants will study the city of Rome from its origins through its medieval and renaissance phases.
“I am thrilled and honored to have been selected for this position. I look forward to introducing the archaeology of ancient Rome and the diverse history of its inhabitants to an audience of graduate students and precollegiate Latin teachers,” says Thakur. “What sets the American Academy program apart is the unparalleled access participants have to archaeological sites and museums, as well as the distinguished professors and museum staff who join the group on their excursions. Nothing compares to the access granted to members of the program — from climbing Trajan’s column to being given official permission to ‘jump the ropes’ and enter spaces normally inaccessible in the Roman forum. These are places visitors and tourists, and even most professionals in the field, can only look at from a distance.
“Being appointed director in the time of COVID has presented challenges,” he says. “Under normal circumstances I would have shadowed the outgoing director this past summer, but the program, like most activities, was canceled. Luckily, I know the city very well. I have already begun preparing the itinerary for next summer. I am especially eager to diversify the group by selecting students and teachers of classics from underrepresented groups.”
The 127-year-old American Academy offers a series of fellowships and other summer programs, but the Classical Summer School is the oldest. “It’s exciting to step into this role at this point in my career and have the opportunity to teach groups that I do not at CC, such as graduate students. The program has a venerable history and tradition, and I am especially pleased to be able to serve as director when it celebrates its centennial anniversary,” Thakur says.
Thakur himself is an alumnus of the Summer School program, having been a participant in 2006. In addition, Thakur has been a Fulbright Fellow (Greece, 2004-05), Watson Fellow (The Ohio State University, 2012) and Tytus Fellow (University of Cincinnati, 2013, 2015). He currently serves as the chair of the Committee on Diversity in the Profession for the Society for Classical Studies. Thakur joined the Colorado College Classics Department in 2008, and during his time at CC he has taught 14 courses aboard, including 11 in Italy.