Sarah Levin-Richardson Heads to Rome on Fellowship

University of San Diego’s Sarah Levin-Richardson, assistant professor of History in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), has been awarded the prestigious Rome Prize in Ancient Studies. The Rome Prize, awarded by the American Academy in Rome, is a national competition that acknowledges 30 individuals who exude excellence in the arts and humanities. According to the academy, “prize recipients are invited to Rome for six months to two years to immerse themselves in the academy community, where they will enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand their own professional, artistic, or scholarly pursuits, drawing on their colleagues’ erudition and experience and on the inestimable resources that Italy, Europe, and the academy have to offer.”

Upon being notified of her award, Levin-Richardson said, “I’m immensely honored to be among the 30 scholars and artists who have been chosen to receive a Rome Prize for next year. During the 11-month fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, I will work on my research project, ‘Beyond Sex: Society and Identity in Pompeii’s Purpose-built Brothel.’ This book will be the first full study of this structure—the only definite Roman brothel ever found—and will not only examine its physical space, frescoes, graffiti, and artifacts, but also explore the physical and emotional experiences of its sex workers and their clients.”

CAS Dean Noelle Norton was proud, but not surprised upon learning of Levin-Richardson’s distinction. “Sarah has been a rising star in the field of classical studies, and this award acknowledges the great work she is doing, as well as the value and potential of her future projects. This is the second Rome award given to someone in our history department. It’s exciting to see the department recognized for their excellent scholarship.”

During her fellowship in Rome, Levin-Richardson plans to use the archives of the American Academy in Rome to comb through excavation reports and early photographs of Pompeii’s brothel in order to assess what the brothel looked like in antiquity. She also plans to visit the archives in Naples to study the objects excavated from the structure, and will spend time in the brothel itself, photographically documenting its architecture and ancient graffiti.

On what the Rome Prize means for USD, Levin-Richardson explained, “The Rome Prize benefits USD on multiple levels. Apart from the positive attention the fellowship brings to USD and the History Department on the international stage, the fellowship also allows me to connect with other scholars, in turn benefiting my teaching and increasing the number of study abroad and student research opportunities to which I can direct our undergraduates.”

The American Academy in Rome was founded in 1894, originally as the first graduate school of architecture for the United States. The Academy in Rome is a hybrid center for the arts and humanities and remains the premier American overseas center for independent study and advanced research, a not-for-profit, private entity, the only one of the 30 foreign academies in Rome not supported primarily or entirely by its government.