Fox Classics Lecturers

The Fox Classics Lecture Series was established at Monmouth College to honor the long career of Bernice L. Fox. The honoree herself gave the inaugural lecture, entitled “Living Latin: Twentieth Century Literature in Latin,” a topic which set the theme for this series. The goal of these lectures is to illustrate the continuing importance of Classical studies in the modern world and the intersection of the Classics with other disciplines in the liberal arts.

In the early years of the series, the speakers were scholars who had been her students or with whom she had developed long-standing collegial ties. The second speaker was Robert (“Rob”) Ketterer, son of Monmouth College Biology professor, John Ketterer. Rob had taken Latin from Fox as a student at Monmouth High School and went on to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. Ketterer was teaching at Valpariso University when he gave the 1986–87 lecture, entitled “A Monkey on the Roof: Comedy, Rome and Plautus’ Boastful Soldier.” He later moved to the University of Iowa.

The third Fox lecturer was Mary R. Ryder MC’72. Ryder had taken Latin with Fox at Monmouth and later taught Latin at Normal High School before earing her Ph.D. in English and moving to South Dakota State University. Her 1987–88 lecture, entitled “The Universal and True: Myth in Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!”, focused on the author who was the subject of Ryder’s doctoral thesis.

Ryder was followed in the series by Andrew J. Adams MC’62. Adams had double majored in Latin and Russian at Monmouth and took many courses from Fox. He earned an MA and Ph.D. in Classics at Indiana University before becoming a professor at North Central College in Naperville, Ill. The title of his 1988–89 Fox lecture was “Off the Beaten Track in Rome.”

In 1989–90 Nelson T. Potter, Jr. MC’61 gave a lecture entitled “Pirsig’s and Plato’s Phaedrus.” As a Monmouth student he had taken courses with Fox. After his graduation from Monmouth he began a doctoral program in philosophy at The Johns Hopkins University. He began teaching philosophy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1965 and received his doctorate from Hopkins in 1969. He spent his entire career at the University of Nebraska.

The next Fox lecturer, Raymond Den Adel of Rockford College, was the first speaker not to have studied under Fox. Rather he and Fox were lifelong professional colleagues, especially through their mutual involvement in the Illinois Classical Conference and Eta Sigma Phi. Den Adel’s 1990–91 talk was entitled “Hadrian: Emperor and Builder.”

In 1991–92 the Fox lecturer was Richard Lederer, a prominent author of language books, including The Miracle of Language. Lederer also wrote a regular newspaper column on language which appeared in the Chicago Tribune, which Fox read daily. She began a correspondence with him. Their mutual interest in language led to a friendship with led to his invitation to give a Fox lecture entitled “Latina Non Mortua Est.

In 1992–93 the Fox lecture was given by Jeremy McNamara, professor of English at Monmouth College. He and Fox were good friends as well as colleauges. The title of his talk was “Ovidius Naso Was the Man: Shakespeare’s Debt to Ovid.”

The 1993–94 Fox lectuer was LeaAnn Smoley Osburn MC’72. Osburn was a Latin major at Monmouth and took many courses from Fox. She taught Latin for many years at Barrington High School in Illinois and was president of the Illinonis Classical Conference in 1986–88. Her Fox lecture, entitled “Classics Across the Curriculum: A Practitioner’s View,” illustrated her long professional interest in Latin pedagogy.

Thomas H. Watkins of the Department of History at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill. was Fox lecturer in 1994–95. He and Fox were cordial colleagues through the Illinois Classical Conference. His lecture was entitled “Imperator Caesar Augustus and Duce Benito Mussolini: Ancient Rome and Fascist Italy.”

After 1995 the Fox lectures were not usually given by her former students or colleagues of Fox. In 2004–2005, however, James DeYoung, professor of Speech and Theatre at Monmouth College was the Fox lecturer. He and Fox had worked together as colleagues from his hiring at Monmouth in 1963 until her retirement in 1981. The title of his lecture was “‘Let the Tears Fall’: On Producing Euripides’ Trojan Women for a Modern Audience.”

Two of Fox’s closest friends and colleagues at Monmouth College did not give Fox lectures until their own retirements from teaching.William L Urban, professor of history, gave the 2015–2016 lecture entitled “America a New Rome? Reflections on Decline and Fall”. He knew Fox from the start of his teaching career at Monmouth in 1966 and they developed a life-long friendship.

Thomas J. Sienkewicz, the 2018–2019 Fox lecturer, was never either Fox’s student or colleague. He succeeded her as professor of Classics at Monmouth College and came to know her well in her retirement. They collaborated together on the publication of Sex Fabulae Breves, Fox’s collection of Latin translations of short stories including Maupassant’s “The Necklace” and O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.” The title of Sienkewicz’ Fox lecture was “Hercules Politics in Art: The Myth Hero as Political Role Model from Alexander the Great to Vladimir Putin”.