Bigwood, Joan M.

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Bigwood, Joan M.

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Born in Stonehaven (Aberdeenshire), Scotland in 1937, Joan M. Bigwood was the third of four children of a Presbyterian minister. As a youth she was an accomplished cellist and played in the Scottish National Youth Orchestra. She received her Master’s degree in Latin & Greek in 1958 from the University of St. Andrews. After a year at the Moray House College of Education in Edinburgh (1958-1959), she went to Cambridge, MA on a full scholarship from Radcliffe College to pursue doctoral studies in Classics (Latin & Greek) at Harvard University. She completed her PhD there in 1964 with a dissertation entitled “Ctesias of Cnidus.” That same year, she was hired by Victoria College as a Lecturer (1964-1966) and Don of the Victoria University Women’s Residence (1964-1967). She became an Assistant Professor in 1966 and made an Associate Professor in 1975. She retired from the Department of Classics in 2001.
Professor Bigwood’s area of research specialization was Greek history of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE, to which she joined an interest in the history and antiquities of Achaemenid Persia. She published a series of articles in this area dealing with a wide range of subjects, from Ctesias as a historian of the Persian Wars (Phoenix 32 [1978] 19-41) and of India (Phoenix 43 [1989] 302-16), to his description of the city of Babylon and its monuments (AJAH 3 [1978] 32-52, and his understanding of North West India in Achaemenid times (JHS 115 [1995] 135-40). Her research mainly focused on how ancient authors worked, how Greeks perceived non-Greek peoples and cultures, and questions of trade and cultural exchange. After her retirement in 2001, she turned her attention to the investigation of the representation of Persian women in Greek historiography, with articles on incestuous marriage in Achaemenid Iran, the Parthian queen Mousa, the queen-mother Sisygambis, and women in the ancient accounts of Alexander.
Over her long career at Victoria College, she served in a variety of capacities, from her initial service as a Don in the women’s residence to her long-running service as Discipline Group Representative in Classics. She also served a term as Undergraduate Coordinator in the Department of Classics from 1992-1995 and participated regularly in the annual “High School Classics Day” which brought local high school students to the University of Toronto campus. She also served a term on the Editorial Board of Phoenix, Journal of the Classical Association of Canada from 1981-1984.
Joan M. Bigwood died on February 16, 2017, at the age of 80.


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MB 2017




Information was obtained from the obituary written by Alison Keith FRSC, Professor and Acting Chair, Department of Classics, University of Toronto
Accessed on June 7, 2017

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