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Interview with Visiting Assistant Professor Anna Darden

January 1, 2022

anna-darden-photo.jpegWhere did you grow up, and where did you study? 
I’m originally from Australia but I mostly grew up in Houston, Texas. I earned my undergraduate degree at Reed College in Portland, Oregon and did my graduate study at UChicago. 

How did you develop your area of study, and how has it modified or developed? 
I wrote my undergraduate thesis on tragedy and wanted to continue studying material circumstances that surrounded the study of tragedy afterward. I was specifically interested in focusing on the visual culture of a city during the tragedy and have since studied the intersection of material culture and tragedy.

Can you tell us about your current book project?
I am currently working on writing something about a revisionist play that tells the story of Ion, an ancestor of the Ionian Greeks. Specifically, being encoded in the play is visual material that acts as an authority to endorse a changed story that’s been told all along. A snake motif is delivered throughout the play (characters wearing snake jewelry) and there is an Athenian ancestor as a snake man to create a lineage between the Athenians and Ion. This play is so embedded in the city in the 5th century and needs to be a central important literary testament. 

What do you enjoy most about teaching? 
I enjoy the interactions of teaching, the give and take, and learning from students as I teach. I appreciate how I can use students’ responses while teaching to think of better questions to ask and to think about the material I am teaching in different ways. 

What is something non-academic that you are proud of accomplishing? 
I have volunteered at the Art Institute for the past 8 years and volunteered at The Portland Art Museum in college. At the Art Institute, I volunteer with the family program and help families get acquainted with the museum. 

What made you particularly interested in coming to Northwestern?
I appreciate the programs offered here in the Classics Department, the faculty, and the classes and students I am working with. I have been teaching classes on pop culture in the Greek and Roman world, and 200-level Greek. 

Is there an experience you’d like to share from your first weeks at Northwestern?
I am just very impressed by the students here and the enthusiasm and critical conversations that take place in my classes. It has been fantastic to see how excited the students here are to learn.