Alumni Interviews — Dr. Candace Weddle Livingston (’99)

Dr. Candace Livingston working with BIC faculty and students with the San Giuliano Archaeological Research Project in Italy, June 2017.

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Dr. Candace Weddle Livingston (’99). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated in 1999 with a BA in Classics and a Minor in Art History. I also took quite a few courses in Museum Studies (in addition to my BIC core).

What are you doing currently for work/career? What do you enjoy most about your work?

I am an Assistant Professor of Art History at The South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University (in Anderson, SC, near Greenville). My university is smaller than Baylor but it is also a private Baptist institution, so it feels comfortable to me. The most enjoyable aspect of my career is that I am constantly learning new things. The research I carry out to develop new courses for our Art History curriculum keeps me feeling engaged and invigorated.

Although it’s not technically a job, I also spend several weeks each summer in Europe and sometimes the Middle East, giving lectures about art and archaeology on a cruise ship that specializes in visiting places of historical and archaeological interest. I enjoy interacting with audiences made up of interesting people from around the world who share a love of history, while visiting many sites I might not otherwise have had the opportunity to see. For example, while on the ship I have visited six of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (I just need the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to complete the set, a tricky one because they are located in Iraq).

How has your BIC education influenced your life/career since leaving Baylor?

There are many ways I could answer this question, because the BIC experience has had an impact on many areas of my life. In a general sense, it gave me a great curiosity about the world around me, which has led me down career paths that involve much international travel. Although I was not able to travel abroad with the BIC while at Baylor (though I did participate in the wonderful Baylor in Italy program with the Classics department!), the World Cultures sequence opened my eyes to the rich cultural mosaic of the world and made me thirst to see it all.

Because I have made a career in academia, the BIC has impacted me in a very direct way in my approach to teaching. One of my BIC professors, Dr. Alden Smith of the Classics department, counseled me once – years after I had graduated from Baylor and was finishing my PhD at the University of Southern California –  that I should never shy away from teaching a course just because it did not fall within my area of expertise. The broad range of material to which I was introduced in the BIC, and the opportunity to see the approaches of scholars from a variety of disciplines in action, gave me the confidence to put his advice into practice. Diving in to prepare and teach classes on material outside my comfort zone – such as the arts of the Pacific islands or of West Africa – is not as daunting a task as it might have been had I not had the BIC experience. Interdisciplinary training teaches one, most importantly, that no area of inquiry is off-limits or inherently foreign, as long as it is approached with an open mind and genuine curiosity. In addition, interdisciplinary training conveys the invaluable lesson that no one person need be a master of all trades, and that admitting our own limitations is not a weakness but a strength, as it can lead to collaboration, which in turn leads to exciting new knowledge.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in BIC?

What comes to mind immediately is all the cool technology we got to play with! Those were the early days of portable GPS units, and I remember being divided into teams and taken into a field and tasked with finding our way back out. The fact that most of us have that capability on our cellphones now is incredible. Another time, we participated in a weekend training course to become amateur storm watchers and had the opportunity to tour the interior of a tornado-chasing van, which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Probably the thing that has had the most long-term impact, however, was my BIC World Cultures IV course. I don’t know what it looks like in its current version, but those of us in the first BIC cohort were assigned a world culture with which we had little or no previous experience and asked to apply as many of the methods we had learned in earlier courses as possible to an analysis of that culture. I was randomly placed in a class on the Zulu culture, which was incredibly foreign to me, with a professor who had grown up in Zululand (as the son of missionaries, I believe). I loved learning about a topic I might not otherwise have had the opportunity to study in depth, and that experience has aided me in understanding certain aspects of African tribal art and culture, something I now teach in a limited fashion in my own courses.

Is there something you learned in BIC that still sticks with you today?

The benefits of cross-disciplinary collaboration continue to inform my career. My research on the sensory experience of Greco-Roman sacrifices has been enriched immeasurably by the inclusion of methodologies from fields outside of classics and art history – notably anthropology – which is a path I would likely never have taken without having seen interdisciplinary scholarship modeled for me so strongly in the BIC. Not surprisingly, I am a proponent of similar approaches in the classroom. Over the past two years I have been involved in a ground-up redesign of my university’s Core Curriculum and have lobbied strongly for the inclusion of team-taught courses with an interdisciplinary focus, which did make it into the final plan approved by our faculty. I hope to be involved in teaching one of those courses in the near future.

What are your goals for the future?

A short-term goal is to involve Anderson University students in archaeological field work, specifically by bringing them to the Baylor field school in Italy (co-led by Dr. Davide Zori of the BIC and Dr. Colleen Zori of the Anthropology department) at the amazing Etruscan/Roman/medieval site of San Giuliano. I was excited to be involved as a classical archaeology consultant in the inaugural year of the excavation in 2016, and am eager to see how the project evolves in coming years.

A goal that will take more time is the completion of my current book manuscript, a study of the sensory experience of Greek and Roman animal sacrifices. I would also like to write a historical fiction novel (my favorite genre for pleasure reading), putting my knowledge of the ancient world to use in a different way. I’ve even kicked around the idea of making it into a graphic novel with the help of my husband Todd Livingston, an award-winning author of numerous comics and graphic novels.

A long-term life goal is to visit all seven continents (3 to go!).

This entry was posted in Alumni, Alumni Interviews. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.