Story-telling: from the days of ancients to today

Classical Studies
August 9, 2016

A classicist by day and chanteuse by night, Quinn Radziszewski Griffin ’10 is spinning many plates in her full life — and is not about to let one of them drop.

Griffin parleyed her undergraduate classics degree into a lifetime pursuit. In May of 2016, she earned a doctorate in classics from Ohio State University, and completed a dissertation titled “Embodying Diotima: Classical Exempla and the Learned Lady.” Griffin has accepted a tenure-track position at Michigan’s Grand Valley State University in the Department of Classics.

And she hasn’t ignored another aspect of her life. Griffin, who married fellow Denison alum and musician Hayes Griffin ’10, in 2015, is a singer in demand for her vocal talents. She channeled the great jazz singer Billie Holiday as part of a Jazz Master Session at the Columbus Museum of Art in the summer of 2016.

Griffin references her learning in the context of her music. “My classes with Drs. Jacobsen and Hofmeister in the classics helped me develop the reading and translation skills that influence the way I look at a song when I first come to it; Dr. Linda Krumholz’s class on the Harlem Renaissance established the cultural significance of jazz and ragtime music and its connection to contemporary literary movements,” she said.

“Quinn was a student in several of my Latin seminars, as well as being my academic advisee, and co-president of our chapter of Eta Sigma Phi,” said Professor Garrett Jacobsen, “As an undergraduate, Quinn was the quintessential liberal arts student who followed a very challenging and rigorous curriculum, as she negotiated her love for both the sciences and the humanities. Academically, Quinn also ranked as one of the top students I have taught during my tenure here at Denison.

Jacobsen noted that Griffin was excellent especially in translation and literary analysis. “Equally comfortable with prose and poetry, she consistently revealed a perceptive understanding of the text and the ability to articulate her ideas in a concise and substantive fashion.”

“Part of singing is storytelling, and I enjoy interpreting the songs I choose as texts with multiple available meanings,” said Griffin. “It is up to the singer to decide how to read and retell the story of the song. This is also something that appeals to me when I read and translate other languages.”

Griffin has recorded an album of jazz standards with Denison faculty Richard Lopez, Doug Richeson and Seth Rogers, with plans to release it independently in the winter of 2016.

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