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MIT to Offer Latin

The Romans are coming.

This fall, the Literature Department will offer what may be MIT’s first ever subjects in the Latin language, Latin 1 (21L.300) and Latin 2 (21L.335).

The language will be taught by Yumna Z.N. Khan, a classical scholar who has recently served as a visiting lecturer at Brandeis.

Teaching Latin is a step towards “creating a community of students interested in Ancient and Medieval culture,” Shaknar Raman ’86, associate professor of literature, said in an e-mail. Students “can then put their Latin to use in subsequent subjects in literature, history, or philosophy by doing some reading in the original,” he said.

The subject will be offered in two 6-unit modules this fall, with Latin 1 offered in the first half of the term and Latin 2 in the second, to accommodate both novices and students with more experience. A student who completes both modules can petition to combine the subjects into one intermediate tier literature subject.

Although Latin was once the lingua franca of science and mathematics, a review of prior course catalogues suggests that this may be the first time MIT has offered a subject in Latin. Decades ago, “Modern Languages” subjects included German, Russian, Spanish, and French. (Sanskrit was once offered as an upper-level elective.) Today’s Foreign Languages and Literatures Department no longer teaches Russian but does offer subjects in Chinese, Italian, and Japanese.

—Michael McGraw-Herdeg

Simpson Trial Set for May

Star A. Simpson ’10 will go to trial in the East Boston District Court on Friday, May 23. She faces charges of possessing a hoax device for appearing at Logan Airport wearing a circuit board mistaken for a bomb in September 2007.

Simpson’s attorney, Thomas Dwyer Jr., asked the court to dismiss the case earlier this year, on the grounds that wearing the circuit board was free expression protected under the First Amendment.

But on March 21, the court decided not to rule on that motion to dismiss. Instead, the court will consider the motion to dismiss along with the trial itself.

Dwyer said that the judge’s decision is common in district court. Judges frequently conduct the trial at the same time that they hear a motion to dismiss unconstitutionally obtained evidence, he said.

Simpson will receive a bench trial heard by a single judge rather than by a jury.

Dwyer said that at the trial, he would introduce as witnesses people who saw Simpson walking around MIT wearing the circuit board with the LED star — a “name tag” useful for enticing employers during the Career Fair held in the days before her arrest.

The defense is ready for the trial, Dwyer said. “It’ll be over that day,” he said.

—Michael McGraw-Herdeg