Classics Department Hosts Visiting Lecturer

The Classics Department within the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) recently hosted visiting academic Dr Mark Hermans from the University of the Western Cape (UWC).
Dr Mark Hermans, visiting lecturer at the UKZN Classics Department.
Dr Mark Hermans, visiting lecturer at the UKZN Classics Department.

He moderated the Department’s examinations and presented two papers, The dedicatory letter in Dodonaeus Botanical Works and Wealth and Poverty as Determining Factors in Raising Children.

In his first paper, Hermans examined the form, function and purpose of Rembertus Dodaneus’s dedicatory letters, their relationship to the reception of the text and their relationship to botany and medicine.

Dodaneus was a 16th century Dutch botanist who authored several books on the relationship between plants on the one side, and health and medicine on the other. Each of these books is accompanied by an elaborate paratext of which dedicatory letters form an integral part.

For his second paper, he looked at the comedy play The Brothers by the Roman playwright Terence.

He said: ‘This can be regarded as an exploration of the better way how to raise children: strictly and with fear, as the rustic Demea raised his own son; or with laxity and freedom, as Micio raised his adopted son.

‘These parenting styles appear not to have changed over the millennia. In the 20th century psychologists still categorised parenting styles as permissive and authoritarian and, more importantly, as with Demea and Micio, psychologists see a link between parenting styles and the wealth of parents.’

He offered an exploration of the similarity between Terence and contemporary psychologists and said this reveals more about the human condition.

Hermans’ visit to the Classics Department also entailed being an external examiner to check the standard of the papers and if marking is being done correctly.

‘This is my second time coming to UKZN and being invited by Dr Elke Steinmeyer. The experience is amazing and very handy, because it helps in improving the functioning of departments in different institutions,’ said Hermans. 

Speaking about the moderation aspect of Hermans’ visit, Steinmeyer said: ‘We usually prefer having an external view when it comes to our examination papers. This provides a view which is unbiased and also helps in improving our style of setting our examinations. His presence assisted in getting new ideas for our small department as we always look for new positive changes and improvements.’

The academics agreed that the ongoing partnership for UKZN and UWC was exciting.

Words and photograph: Nkululeko Mbatha

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