Ryan Walsh

MA Classical Studies

Ryan Walsh"I’ve been at the school for a very long time,” says Ryan Walsh. Having started at UWaterloo in Computer Science, changing programs to complete his BA in Classical Studies, and participating in co-op, it is safe to say that Ryan knows this university inside and out. But with his thesis near completion, he is nearly ready to move on and begin work on his PhD at McMaster University.

Describing his MA thesis, Ryan says, “the bulk of my topic was focused on the conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar, following Julio-Claudian empires and how their policies influenced Roman Gaul. I looked at the rise in Romanization and the acceptance of Gauls after their conquest and Rome’s rejection of them at the same time. This culminated, in my opinion, in Gaul’s eventual rejection of a larger role in the Roman Empire and an inward focus on local matters.”

When performing the initial research, Ryan says it was a fairly independent process. “You meet with your supervisor for recommendations on books and to run through ideas. You always need to ask ‘has it been done before?’ Finding an original research topic is difficult.” In fact, he explains, the relationship with a thesis supervisor often evolves during the writing stage – there is a lot more back and forth with the submission and revision of drafts. In Ryan’s case, he had worked with his supervisor, Dr. Altay Coskun, extensively during his undergraduate studies. “He took me under his wing so when I applied for my MA, it was almost a given that I was going to work with him.”

Even with a specific supervisor, Ryan tells us that the Department of Classical Studies is a very close group, and all professors offer support to all the grad students. “I think I received books or tips from everyone in the department. They all know what I am working on so they would just call me over and say ‘Hey, I have a book that might be good,’ - they may have a different expertise than you and your supervisor, and can provide you with ideas or sources you may not have considered.”

October 2013 Megan Scarborough

University of Waterloo

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