Russell Barlow: Indo-European Studies

Russell Barlow - PhotographRussell Barlow
Indo-European Studies
B.A. June 2013
Home College: Brooklyn
Mentor: Prof. John Van Sickle, Classics, Brooklyn
Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship
Mary Costas Award, Outstanding Performance in Ancient Greek
Court Trinity Award
Tow Undergraduate Travel Stipend
Study Abroad Scholarship Association Travel Grant
Alice E. Kober Award
DAAD Graduate Scholarship
Fulbright U.S. Student Grant 2013

Russell Barlow began his undergraduate studies in the film department at Wesleyan and graduated in 2006 with a B.A. Immediately after he accepted a teaching job in Seoul. “Within a week of graduating I found myself studying the Korean alphabet on a plane. Although my plans at the time were uncertain, I knew at least that I wanted new experiences,” he says.

So began his travels and teaching experiences in Chicago, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Mongolia, Italy, Greece, Turkey, China and Japan. In the course of his travels, he realized he wanted to study Classics and Linguistics and eventually become a professor.

He came to Brooklyn College in 2010 to pursue his second bachelor’s degree in Classics and has immersed himself in the study of Greek and Latin since then, fashioning his studies into a degree in Indo-European Studies, a field that “demands interdisciplinary thought,” he explains. He started working right away with Professor Van Sickle who says of Barlow, “Having him as a student is a privilege. He shows distinctive intellectual maturity and promise.”

Barlow has recently been awarded a Fulbright Grant to conduct independent research combining historical linguistics with classical philology. (To accept the Fulbright, he had to decline the DAAD Graduate Scholarship.) He will enroll at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster, Germany in fall 2013, having previously participated in the university’s Classics and German program, an initiative designed to facilitate scholastic communication between Germany and the U.S. After that eight-week program, despite not having previously studied the language, Barlow was able to place into an advanced-level German course at Hunter College.

Upon his arrival in Germany, Barlow will participate in a seven-week intensive study of German at WiPDaF, a nonprofit language institute affiliated with the university. Then he will collaborate with Professor Michael Janda to research the relationship between Proto-Indo-European culture and ancient Greek metaphysical concerns, discovering cultural ideologies shared across different ancient linguistic groups. He says “I want to explore the undiscovered parallels among ancient Indo-European texts. Specifically, through linguistic analysis and comparison of Greek origin myths with Germanic and Indic traditions, I’d like to place Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns in a broader Indo-European context. My research will culminate in a dissertation revealing common metaphysical beliefs that underlie various Indo-European cosmogonies. My work in Germany will provide a unique opportunity for cultural and intellectual exchange, not possible by studying domestically. Not only does Germany lead the field of Indo-European Studies; it offers perspectives quite unlike those of the United States. I hope to bring to Germany an American linguistic perspective and to return to the U.S. with a German cultural perspective. The synergy of these viewpoints could lead to great advances in our understanding, not only of our earliest linguistic ancestors, but of billions of people living, thinking and speaking today.” Barlow plans also to continue studying Latin and Greek there and to begin to learn Sanskrit.

Barlow completed his degree with courses from Brooklyn and Hunter in Greek, Latin, German and Linguistics. He was awarded Brooklyn College’s Leonard and Claire Tow Undergraduate Travel Study Award to conduct research in Germany during winter 2013. He is graduating with a 4.0 GPA.