Classics Professor Named Humanities Teacher of the Year

Brad Cook receives honor from Mississippi Humanities Council, presents Feb. 11 lecture

Brad Cook

OXFORD, Miss. – Brad Cook, an associate professor of classics at the University of Mississippi, has been awarded a Humanities Teacher Award from the Mississippi Humanities Council.

The award recognizes outstanding work by a Mississippian in bringing the insights of the humanities to public audiences. Cook, a UM faculty member since 2011, is among 29 recipients of the award this year, including peers at other universities and colleges in Mississippi.

Cook will discuss his humanities research Monday (Feb. 11) in Bryant Hall, Room 209 during a public lecture titled “Documenting Freedom in Ancient Greece, and a Bronze Inscription in Oxford, Mississippi.” The lecture begins at 7 p.m., with a reception preceding it at 6:30.

“It is a great, and unexpected, honor to receive this award, for which I thank my chair in the Department of Classics, Molly Pasco-Pranger, and my colleagues in classics, and also colleagues in the College of Liberal Arts, the university and the University Museum, who make teaching and researching here meaningful and rewarding,” Cook said.

The statewide award winners will be honored by the Mississippi Humanities Council at its Public Humanities Awards on April 5 at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson.

“As a department that deeply values the teaching and mentoring of our undergraduate students, we are always proud to have this part of our colleagues’ work recognized and celebrated, and we have several award-winning teachers in our ranks,” said Pasco-Pranger, who also is an associate professor of classics.

“The celebration of one of our faculty as Humanities Teacher of the Year is particularly gratifying. Classics includes all the humanistic disciplines of history, art history, literature and languages, disciplines which really ask us to grapple in critical ways with what makes us human in all our diversity.”

Cook’s lecture will focus on his research into a bronze inscription from about 221 to 179 B.C. that records the freeing of a slave woman named Philista in northwestern Greece. The inscription, 3.5 inches square with only 26 words on it, is part of the museum’s David M. Robinson Memorial Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

His talk on the inscription will cover diverse ground, from bronze smelting and the creation of the inscription to slavery and freedom in ancient Greece. His lecture also will consider what can be said about the life Philista, who lived 2,200 years ago.

Cook’s research into the bronze inscription and a gold inscription that records the essence of a defensive treaty between Philip V, king of Macedon from 221 to 179 B.C., and the city of Lysimachia, is made possible through a $21,000 National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to study the two inscriptions. The fellowship included five months of work in early 2018 at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in Greece.

“This brief inscription illustrates exactly why I became a classics major some years ago,” said Cook, who earned his doctorate in classics from the University of Washington in 1996. “I get to learn and study the Greek and Latin languages and then work on every imaginable aspect of the classical world.

“It is not that you can’t do that in other disciplines, too, but in classics, it has always seemed to me not just a challenge but a responsibility to study the whole of the culture.

“For me, that has meant starting with what looks like a very small text – one page of a Byzantine manuscript, a few marginal notes in another or a little bronze tablet – that always leads, often circuitously, but eventually, to broader and deeper issues.”

Cook’s work in the field of classics both teaching and research, is exemplary and stands as a significant tribute to the profession, said Donald Dyer, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and distinguished professor of modern languages.

“We in the College of Liberal Arts are proud of Dr. Cook’s work and proud of his selection for this award,” he said. “The Department of Classics is home to excellent faculty, and this award is recognition of the wonderful work done by one of those faculty.”