Frances Harrington: Bringing Together the Ancient and the Modern

Hi! My name is Frances Harrington and I am a rising junior majoring in Classics and Linguistics. I’m from Cincinnati, Ohio and I’m involved in the club rowing team and Classical Civilizations club here at Pitt. My project is “‘What is Love?’: Questions for a Modern Symposium”.

Almost inevitably after naming my majors follows the question I’m sure all college students are sick of hearing: “what do you want to do with that?” Honestly I’d probably be happy with sitting in a library with dusty old books, although I’d also like to teach other people about the history and languages I’m studying. But I can’t help thinking about that question. Most people don’t seem to think that there’s much of a practical application of classical studies, because what does any of that have to do with us today anyways? That’s part of my goal with this Brackenridge fellowship: to connect the ancient to the modern by posing some of the same questions Plato asked thousands of years ago (and really, that people have been asking themselves forever)—what is love? What do we think it should be? And are our answers today that different from those of peoples long dead? Thanks to the inspiration from my faculty mentor Dr. Carla Nappi and her co-author Dr. Carrie Jenkins who wrote Uninvited: talking back to Plato, I’ve been moved to attempt to create a “modern symposium” of sorts and this fellowship gives me the opportunity to explore these questions. 

As for the future, developing this project further, maybe even with comparisons between other ancient authors from non-Athenian cultures, would be great. I hope to attend grad school someday as well.

This is a picture of me in Charleston, SC last year (pre-pandemic).

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