Amy Koenig.
Hamilton welcomed 10 new tenure-track faculty members for the 2021-22 academic year. We caught up with them to find out why they chose Hamilton and what they think about their first semester on College Hill. Here’s Claire Williams’ ’25 interview with Amy Koenig, assistant professor of classics.
Why did you start teaching?

I have lots of teachers in the family. My mom is in adult education, a GED math, teacher. I always really admired and loved seeing how much of a difference she made in her students’ lives and seeing the bonds she formed with them. I think I first wanted to go into academia because of the research and writing aspect, but as I went on and as I started teaching, I discovered that teaching was actually the thing that motivated me to keep going. It made me excited to get up and do what I do every day. That continues to be true. It’s something that keeps my interest in my field alive. It informs my research and vice versa. Teaching is the heart of my job.

“(Students) are so engaged and so interested, and the open curriculum means that more often than not, they’re taking the class because they want to be in that class, which creates a fantastic atmosphere.”

Why did you choose Hamilton?

I’m both new and not new to Hamilton. I was here as a visitor from 2018 to 2020. Then I spent a year abroad on a fellowship, and now I’m back on the tenure track. There were a lot of things that initially drew me to Hamilton: the emphasis on writing, the open curriculum, these kinds of things that fed into an even deeper type of teaching I wanted to do. The Classics Department here also is and historically has been a really strong, unique, and vibrant department among its peer institutions. I really love my colleagues and the ethos of the department. I also love the type of students that are drawn to classics here. They’re so engaged and so interested, and the open curriculum means that more often than not, they’re taking the class because they want to be in that class, which creates a fantastic atmosphere. Hamilton really came to feel like home over those couple years as a visitor, so I’m really delighted to be back.

Can you describe your current project?

My major project right now is a book-length study of voice and muteness in Roman imperial literature. I’m interested in the ways that forms of communication intersect. One thing that really fascinates me is how voice in a modern context has become an important metaphor for agency and power. So, to be silenced is to have your agency taken away. But for a number of reasons in the Roman Empire, authors complicate that in a really fascinating way. They’re sort of interested in what avenues of communication are left to those who are no longer able to speak. The people who are silenced in these texts almost gain a kind of power, so it’s a paradoxical unintentional liberation. There’s interest in the limitations of the voice, but there’s also interest in the communicative possibilities that lie outside the voice in such a way that upends our metaphorical significance of what losing your voice means.

What is your favorite thing about teaching at Hamilton?

I love teaching in a small classics department in a small liberal arts college. My undergraduate and graduate career as a student was spent at research universities, so it was really nice to come into an environment like this. It gives me the opportunity to work closer with students and form deeper connections. It also lets me teach a wide variety of things. We are a small department where everyone teaches everything. I teach Greek, Latin, classical culture, etc. I really love teaching such a wide variety because I’m a person with a very broad array of interests within my field. Working here lets me maintain that and exercise that, not just in my research, but also in my teaching.

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