David Delbar: Discovering the Ancient with Modern Researching Techniques

David Delbar attended the Information Fluency in Classics workshop at the Center for Hellenic Studies this summer, where he learned research skills that will benefit him throughout his career.


PROVO, Utah (September 30, 2015)—When classics and comparative literature student David Delbar received an email advertising the Center for Hellenic Studies research program last winter, he was quick to disregard it due to an already full schedule. After being encouraged by several professors, however, Delbar applied to the program. A few months later and with the support of the College of Humanities, he was on his way to meet with eleven other students in Washington, D.C.

Delbar attended the fully funded, nine-day Information Fluency in Classics workshop at Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies (CHS) this July. The workshop is a chance for undergraduate students to learn about the sources of information available in the study of classics and how to effectively access and analyze these sources.

“On the individual level, [the workshop] was to help us be aware of what [resources] there are so that we could learn how to use them in our own research,” Delbar said. “More broadly, it’s trying to steer classics into the digital age.”

To help the participants learn these lessons, students attended several sessions with guest speakers, including Harvard’s copyright lawyer, who discussed the impending end of Mickey Mouse’s copyright, and an epigrapher, who taught about inscriptions. Students also visited the Library of Congress and Dumbarton Oaks’ Byzantine Library and honed their research skills by creating a practice bibliography on a topic of their interest.

Ultimately, CHS stresses that this workshop serves to provide students with the resources and skill set needed to play a supportive role in their university departments. Delbar believes this is effective.

“I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know about before. I learned about a lot of really basic research tools that so far I hadn’t learned here at BYU,” Delbar explained. “I think sending me there – how that was useful – is that I can see if there’s anything we missed and make sure that’s incorporated into our program [here at BYU].”

After attending the workshop, Delbar continued to pursue knowledge throughout the summer. He took two semesters of Hebrew; edited Scandinavian articles on literature for a professor; and translated Ancient Greek business memos as part of the Zenon Papyri Project.

Now entering his last year at BYU, Delbar has many things to look forward to. This semester, Delbar will be continuing a research project on the corollaries between the Ancient Greek god Dionysus and the main character of Miguel de Unamuno’s San Manuel Bueno, Mártir. He is also applying to graduate school programs for classical studies, where he plans to specialize in Ancient Greco-Roman religion.

The skills he learned this summer have already proven to be invaluable in his research, and they will continue to be useful as he pursues his education and career

“Most students don’t learn about these resources until their graduate studies,” said Delbar. “I have a huge head start now.”

—Kayla Goodson (B.A. Communications and French studies ’17)

Kayla covers the Department of Comparative Arts and Letters for the College of Humanities. She is a junior pursuing a dual degree in French studies and Journalism with a minor in international strategy and diplomacy.


Center for Hellenic Studies photo courtesy of Lethe