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Campus Beat

Greek Studies Grows

Gentle Wagner (B.A. '99; M.A. '03) transferred to SF State specifically for its range of Greek Studies courses. "The program allowed me to finely tune my academic interests and enter into a more specialized field," she says. After earning a Fulbright scholarship to study folklore collections in Greece, Wagner will become curator of the Hellenic Museum in Chicago this January.

Like 80 percent of the students who study Greek at SF State, Wagner is not of Greek heritage. Professor Martha Klironomos, director of the Center for Modern Greek Studies, says, "Such interest in the field proves that the language and culture of Greece is still relevant today." The University's innovative offerings in Greek Studies are growing to meet the increasing interest.

The Center for Modern Greek Studies, established at SF State in 1981, concentrates on Greek intellectual, cultural and political history, with an emphasis on the humanities and social sciences. It offers an interdisciplinary minor in Modern Greek Studies, the first of its kind in Northern California.

A photo of a Greek wedding

An image of a Greek wedding reception in Oakland circa 1914, one of many treasures found in the Greek American Archives.

Plans to develop a major in Modern Greek Studies are under way in conjunction with fundraising efforts for the Nikos Kazantzakis Chair. The Kazantzakis Chair, an endowed chair in Modern Greek Studies named after the esteemed Greek writer who penned such works as "Zorba the Greek" and "The Last Temptation of Christ," brings visiting experts in Greek literature to campus.

Community outreach plays a crucial role in the center's mission to promote awareness of contemporary Greece and Greek culture in America. The center's Northern California Greek American Archive, a collection of more than 50 oral histories of Greek immigrants, emerged out of a course offering on Greek American literature. The Greek American archive, a useful research tool for scholars in the field, focuses on West Coast immigrants and is the first of its kind at any academic institution in the United States.

Opa! The Center for Modern Greek Studies will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Nikos Kazantzakis Chair in February with "The Three Muses," a celebration of Greek music, dance and poetry. For more information: www.sfsu.edu/~modgreek

 

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