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Grant to research pivotal female NZ Classics scholar

UC student awarded grant to research pivotal female NZ Classics scholar

University of Canterbury Master’s student Natalie Looyer, has been awarded a funding grant to research a pivotal, ground-breaking female New Zealand Classics scholar.

The project, titled “Bringing Classical Antiquities to Aotearoa: The Life and Legacy of Marion K. Steven”, aims to create an oral history of the life of Marion Steven, founder of the James Logie Memorial Collection of Mediterranean Antiquities, which is housed in the University of Canterbury’s Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities.

Natalie’s research, which is the subject of a funding grant as part of the 2018 New Zealand Oral History awards scheme from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage Manatū Taonga, will provide a personal record to accompany the official records held in the Logie Collection archives.

“My ambition for the oral history project on the life of Miss Marion Steven is to capture an extensive and lasting memory of an innovative teacher, classicist and staunch advocate for the Arts and Humanities,” Natalie says.

“Miss Steven established the James Logie Memorial Collection in 1957, and was one of the first appointed female Readers of an academic department at the University of Canterbury. Details of Miss Steven’s life as an educator, collector and academic have gone largely undocumented, despite her legend as an extremely intellectual and fascinating character, much admired by those that knew her, and as one who associated with the elite artistic and literary group of mid to late 20th century Christchurch.”



Over the next 12 months Natalie will be carrying out interviews with colleagues, students, family and friends that knew Miss Steven.

“I hope that my project will uncover the story of a female New Zealander who transcended the boundaries of her time for women in academia, and whose efforts have ensured the continuation of a world-class teaching resource for University of Canterbury (UC) Classics students and beyond.”

The Logie Collection is supporting Natalie’s work by co-supervising the project with Associate Professor Lyndon Fraser, and providing a long-term repository for the oral history interviews.

“I hope that Miss Steven’s story will make a relevant contribution to themes of female achievement and perseverance, academic innovation and ‘liberal arts’ influence for the historical archives of mid-20th century Christchurch. This is particularly relevant as the James Logie Memorial Collection – Miss Steven’s predominant legacy – plays its role in the regrowth of the Christchurch central city and its artistic scene, acting as part of a centrepiece for UC at the Arts Centre.”

History of the Logie Collection

The James Logie Memorial Collection was first formed in 1957, following a gift of Greek pottery to Canterbury University College (as UC was then known) by Classics staff member Marion Steven.

Marion Steven had a longstanding passion for Greek painted pottery. As a young woman, she enrolled to study Greek and Classics as a student at Canterbury in 1938, and later taught at the University, from 1944 to 1977, where she was a popular lecturer. In 1950, Marion married James Logie, who was Registrar of the College from 1950 until his death in 1956. In 1957, Marion established the James Logie Memorial Collection as a tribute to her husband. Since then the Logie Collection has served to commemorate the great contributions of both James Logie and Marion Steven to UC.

The aim of the collection has been to serve as a teaching and research resource for students, academics and interested members of the public. Over the past 60 years the collection has been a source of inspiration for numerous international publications and research projects.

In 2016, the University of Canterbury received a substantial donation to support the relocation the James Logie Memorial Collection of classical antiquities to the Arts Centre in central Christchurch. UC alumnus Professor David Teece and his wife, Leigh Teece, donated funds to support the refurbishment of the old Chemistry building, and create the Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities.

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