Former Crake doctoral fellow gives classics lecture

Dr. Chelsea Gardner, co-director of the CARTography Project, presents findings

On March 13, Dr. Chelsea Gardner presented fieldwork from the CARTography Project, a mapping project which analyses and recreates the routes of early modern travellers. Gardner’s research is focused on an archeological exploration in the Mani Peninsula in southern Greece, where Pausanias, a second-century traveller, and Patrick Leigh Fermor, a 20th-century author, once travelled.

According to Gardner, the Mani Peninsula is a mountainous and difficult terrain to inhabit. In early modern times, the Maniots had a reputation for being strong and ruthless warriors with an affinity for conflict. Gardner recounted the seven separate hikes during which she recreated the travels of Patrick Leigh Fermor, a distinguished British travel writer who wrote of the southern Greek peninsula. Along the way, she and her research partner recreated the photographs taken in his travels, tweeting them, alongside Fermor’s quotes, to the hashtag #CARTography project.

Gardner and her research partner experienced some difficulties in reconstructing Pausanias’ travels. “Most of the sights that he names aren’t greatly identified,” said Gardner. “We’re not done with Pausanias, we’re just not sure what to do yet.” Gardner is currently pursuing this reconstruction with Recogito, a digital humanities project that is doing work mapping Pausanias’ travels.

Gardner is an assistant professor of ancient history at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. Her teaching covers several areas of both history and classics, including Greek and Latin language and literature; the history of the Greco-Roman world, mythology, religion; and women, gender and sexuality in antiquity. She is currently developing her own courses on Greek sanctuaries and the ancient world in modern film.

In 2016, Gardner was the recipient of the Crake Doctoral Fellowship in classics, an award given annually by the J.E.A. Crake Foundation to a graduate student teaching at Mount Allison who can be expected to finish their doctorate degree during their year of tenure. Gardner was finishing her PhD with the University of British Columbia during her time on campus. “In my first year I taught Women in Antiquity and Archeology of Religion in the Greek and Roman World, and both were really formative experiences,” said Gardner. She returned to Mt. A in 2017 as a visiting assistant professor.

“As for the community, Sackville was a great place to live, especially since it is very family-friendly, and we had a new baby – we moved here when my daughter was just two weeks old, so she’s spent a good portion of her life in this town!”

When Dr. Illaria Battiloro, head of the classics department, found out that Gardner had returned to Canada after a year working at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, she contacted her immediately to invite her to campus. According to Battiloro, Gardner had a great impact on students during her time on campus. “Nobody has ever forgotten Dr. Gardner,” said Battiloro to the crowd. “Anytime I speak with our students in our department, they mention her.”

Prior to her arrival, Gardner completed her BAHons in classics and religious studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. She went on to complete her graduate studies at the University of British Columbia, where she completed an MA in classical and near eastern archeology and a PhD in classics with a specialization in classical archeology. She also spent a year at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. In addition to her schooling, she worked on several archeology projects around the world, including projects in Bulgaria, Greece and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Gardner had no exposure to classics or archeology prior to her undergraduate degree. “I was enrolled in the BA psychology program at McMaster and discovered an intro to archeology course by accident, as an elective. I had no idea people could actually study such an amazing topic,” said Gardner. She changed her major shortly after. “It just goes to show how important it is to take electives and to explore courses outside your major, your minor or your comfort zone – you never know what you’ll find, or how your life can change.”

When she’s not teaching and researching, Gardner can be found hiking or biking in the trails behind her family’s home. She loves the ocean, the beach, photography, travelling and her dog Rex.

Martha Pitre
Martha Pitre is a News Editor for the Argosy.