W&L classics professor awarded National Endowment for the Humanities grant

Washington and Lee University’s Rebecca Benefiel, associate professor of classics, working with her colleague in computer science Sara Sprenkle, received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to support digitization of Pompeian epigraphy as part of the Ancient Graffiti Project.

Although the range of Benefiel’s expertise includes such varied topics as Roman law, early Christianity, and ancient advertising, she has become internationally known for her work on ancient wall inscriptions, also called graffiti.

In particular, her examination of the graffiti of Pompeii has resulted not only in her own numerous scholarly articles but also in popular articles about her work in such varied publications as USA Today, Science News, and Smithsonian magazine.

“Though the digital accessibility of nuanced information about the inscriptions is an important goal of the project, from my perspective as Dean of the College the impact on undergraduate collaborators is especially praiseworthy,” said Suzanne Keen, dean of the college. “Our Digital Humanities Initiative has sought to bring undergraduates into our DH projects for their benefit, and we are proud that students will continue to contribute to the digital edition.”

Benefiel joined the Washington and Lee faculty in 2005 after receiving her Ph.D. in classical philology from Harvard. She received her B.A. in classics from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and conducted additional post-graduate study in Rome.

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