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Alex Konovalov: Princeton's First Classics Minor

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Published Date

January 28, 2024

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After Princeton University announced it would begin offering minors with the undergraduate class of 2025, the Classics Department’s proposal for a new minor was among the first accepted. Accordingly, the Fall 2023 semester saw the establishment of a flourishing new cohort of Princetonians minoring in Classics. We sat down with Alex Konovalov '25, the first to enroll in the new program, for a conversation about his classics journey, his course of study, and how the two intertwine:

First off, would you tell me how you got interested in classics?

My interest in the Classics Department originated from simply needing a fourth class to fill my schedule for the spring semester of my freshman year. I came across Professor Cheung’s class, "The Roman Empire: 31 BC to AD 337," and after reading the course description, I thought it seemed interesting and out of my typical variety of classes. So I decided to enroll in it and see what Classics was all about! Long story short, I absolutely loved the class, especially because of Professor Cheung’s engaging and passionate attitude towards the material presented. After finishing that class, I continued to take a Classics class every following semester. From what started as an opportunity to branch out and expand my course range, I have developed a deep appreciation for ancient history through the study of various political, societal, and cultural norms across the Roman Empire, as well as Ancient Greece.

That's great to hear! Now can I ask what your major is?

I am an Economics major.

And do you feel your major and minor complement each other, or are they separate?

While Economics and Classics may appear as two completely divergent disciplines, there are a plethora of different ways in which they overlap. Thanks to my knowledge of various economic trends and theories, I have been able to apply concepts learned in Economics classes to several courses within the Classics Department. Studying the laws of supply and demand in my Macroeconomics class, for example, aided in understanding the importance of efficient trade routes as well as the inception of currency throughout ancient Roman provinces. Taking classes across such a wide variety of disciplines has been not only very enjoyable, but also extremely beneficial, as it has allowed me to utilize concepts from one course to broaden my understanding of another seemingly unrelated subject.

Makes sense! Last question, have you had a favorite Classics course at Princeton?

Out of all the Classics classes that I have taken thus far I think my favorite is Professor Haynes’ newly introduced course titled "Ancient Sport and Spectacle," which I took this past fall semester. Being a student-athlete on campus, I was immediately drawn to this class. I deeply enjoyed learning about the role of sport and spectacle during ancient times. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the class, in my opinion, revolved around the comparison of society’s perception of athletes and sporting competitions within the Roman Empire and present day, illustrating the evolution of sports and athletic competition throughout history.

Thanks so much, Alex. And have a great spring semester!