Eckley Scholar Examines Class Struggles in Ancient Rome
Aug. 24, 2018
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — By examining the struggle to rise above one's station thousands
of years ago in ancient Rome, Eckley scholar Brent Baughan '19 (Bloomington, Illinois)
hopes to better understand the socio-economic imbalance of the modern day.
As one of five 2018 recipients of the Robert S. and Nell B. Eckley Scholars and Artists Program fellowship, Baughan is using a $4,000 stipend to conduct his summer-long research
project "Statecraft and Class Power in the Ancient World," with faculty mentor Associate
Professor of History Amy Coles.
"I've been impressed with the way he's grappled with ideas and theories from Gramsci,
who wrote early in the 20th century, as well as contemporary theorists and applied
these sophisticated ideas to the words of Roman intellectuals from the first century
BCE," Coles said. "I think his project will result in an interesting and valuable
analysis of the power of ancient intellectuals to support or tear down contemporary
Baughan's methodology involves looking at the Roman Republic through the theories
of Antonio Gramsci, a founding member of the Italian communist party. In his research
paper, Baughan uses Gramsci's ideas about intellectuals and the social order to explore
the relationship between the oppressed and the oppressors of Rome.
By examining how subjugated classes exerted their influence on the government and
the role of intellectuals in maintaining or destroying social systems, Baughan hopes
to provide a different look at Roman culture and shed light on contemporary issues
relating to class. Baughan will deliver a full presentation of his research on campus
A Greek and Roman studies and history double major, Baughan's project directly ties in with his intended career path of
teaching the classics as a professor.
"Thanks to Dr. Coles' support and the chance to tackle this project otherwise independently,
I feel that the Eckley program has given me a fairly accurate depiction of how I can
expect future scholarship as a professor to go," Baughan said. "It has encouraged
me to press forward with that goal, rather than scaring me off."