Undergraduate Michael Freeman’s Penn education thus far has been nothing short of magical.
Now a junior majoring in Classical Studies, Michael came to Penn from the tiny town of Walton, New York. A self proclaimed member of the Harry Potter generation, he was long enchanted by magic—but it wasn’t until the end of his freshman year that a course on ancient magic, taught by Classics Professor Peter Struck, really drew him in.
“Everyone said this class, it will change the way you think about everything,” Michael remembered. Finding that intriguing, he signed up. He wasn’t disappointed. “In addition to being a great, thought provoking class it was probably as close as you could get to taking a course at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
“I learned that for the ancients, magical thinking was just a completely different view of how the world worked. Objects, words, images, feelings, these could all have magical properties.”
As the class was drawing to an end, Michael asked his professor if there was any way he could continue studying magic; Dr. Struck said he’d check on something and get back to him.
He did. That next semester two professors—Dr. Robert Ousterhout, History of Art, and Dr. Grant Frame, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations—were co-teaching a curatorial seminar, Magic in the Ancient World, to develop a new Penn Museum exhibition with a small group of upper level undergraduate and graduate students. Though he was just a sophomore, he petitioned to get in the small class, and he was accepted.