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SCS Newsletter - February 2019 (Program and Publications & Research Report)

Program Division VP Report

Date: January 3, 2019

It is truly with mixed feelings that I make this exit report.  I am proud of what the Program Committee has achieved in the past four years.  And this upcoming Sesquicentennial Meeting promises to bring a number of innovations, some of which I think will remain for the future. I am happy to be leaving the Program Committee in such excellent hands; Helen has been an absolute joy to work with, as has her staff, Cherane and Erik.  Many thanks to their efforts for running such a smooth Annual Meeting. And I thank the committee members who, over the years, have worked extremely diligently to arrive at the most stimulating program possible.

I will not repeat the statistics from my September report, but I want here to highlight certain developments that the Board and the incoming Vice President for Programs should consider.

Increased Size of the Program. I have watched the number of panels and workshops increase significantly.  I have, as has my predecessor, encouraged greater autonomy and coherence in the program by asking for more panels put together by members.  New formats – workshops, round tables, seminars – are also intended to augment this trend.  But there should always be room for individual papers since, especially for younger scholars, this is the way to get on the program.  We began a new format for papers: the lightning talks. Each lightning talk consists of 6-minute papers with 14 minutes discussion as a second avenue for scholarly conversations about new work, technical areas, pedagogy, etc. 

Despite the increase in panels, the number of individual abstracts has been healthy, and remains relatively constant, around 400.  Due to the obvious increase in the program, sessions began on Thursday afternoon. This trend, which I hope will continue, will mean that the Thursday session will become normative and is preferable to more evening paper sessions.

Increased Workload.  Having the Board of Directors read the individual abstracts in the first round has helped enormously to reduce the number of individual abstracts that the committee must read.  In an attempt to reduce the already sizable number of panels, I recommend that we divide the committee into groups of four to read half the panels in a first round.  If a strong consensus (3 versus 1 pro or con) emerges, then we could accept or reject without sending it to the whole committee unless a member expressed strong feelings that the proposed panel should be considered.

All the categories of participation are thriving, except for that of the seminar. I encouraged this type of submission in my online letters, but I would recommend that the committee seed at least one seminar per conference as a way of developing this very productive format. 

Finally, under my leadership the Program Committee has put together some exciting programming as well. This year, for instance, we seeded a Round table on How to Write and Respond to Journal Reviews.  In Boston, the panel on Rhetoric and Politics was extremely well timed, and well received.  The Program Committtee should be encouraged to mount workshops or panels that speak to timely issues.

Gender Matters. The ratio of submissions from male vs. female authors, and the rate of acceptance for male and female authors remains pretty steady at 60 / 40. This is consistent with our membership statistics.  Given that our format is based on anonymous proposals of papers and panels, I have added to the website, based on the consensus of the committee, the recommendation that all panels aim for diversity in gender and perspectives.  The Committee or the Board may want to make this recommendation stronger. Board could vote to make this a requirement, should it choose to.

A Greater Web Presence for the Annual Meetings.  We have moved forward on making more panels and papers accessible to members and the public who have not attended the meeting.  This year, for example, all our Sesquicentennial Panels will be taped and eventually made available through our website.  With the Committee on Communications, I have encouraged more of a social network presence at the meetings. Ideally, I would like to have the technology to allow members who cannot physically attend the meetings to participate in real time via the internet; they could even send in questions for the papers or panels that are made available that way. That has not been easy, in part due to the fees placed upon us when we are at the convention hotels. The issue of financing, as well as expertise, is a real impediment.  

An Annual Meeting. One area that I have not worked on is to make the activities of the meeting continue through the year; that, it seems to me, to be better done through other committees or legates with local ties.  Moreover, as I said, the committee is contributing a large portion of its spring as well as a June meeting to simply reading and setting the program as it is.  Adding to their workload, without reducing further this side of their task, has not been feasible.

Respectfully submitted,

Michele Renee Salzman

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Publications and Research Division VP Report

Jan. 15, 2019

Book Publications

The Murgia-Kaster Servius volume (Special Publications 1:5) and Andrew Scott’s portion of the Cassius Dio commentary (American Classical Studies 58 = Dio commentary volume 11:2) appeared on schedule earlier in the year.

In connection with Servius, the preservation of the remaining images of the lost Metz manuscript which has been handed down from the Harvard project of E. K. Rand was assured. Photographs of about half the Servius pages in this codex had previously been digitized and made openly available. With the cooperation of Christian Kopff, the photographs covering most of the other half of Servius portion of the manuscript were returned to the SCS and digitized by a graduate student at Berkeley. These are now accessible, along with the earlier set,  ArtStor SharedShelf Commons (https://library.artstor.org/#/search/metz292).

The decision that the SCS will not be sponsoring any more print volumes of Servius has been reaffirmed and those formerly associated with the project have been informed. We understand that, separately from the SCS, James Brusuelas continues to work toward an open-access online edition of the commentary on books 6-8 of the Aeneid, making some use of the material from the terminated project.

TAPA

Editor Andromache Karanika reports that volumes continue to be produced on time. As of December 31, the number of submissions has surpassed last year’s total (67 vs. 66)  (down a little from an especially high figure last year), and the balance of topics and of genders of submitting authors has been similar to before. She is working on gender balance and on getting more submissions in Latin. There is no backlog at present, and the average time between submission and decision has also been in line with our goals (decisions conveyed to authors within 3 months). 2019 will be a busy year, since there will be a special sesquicentennial issue with invited contributions about the history of the APA/SCS and the history of the journal.

In San Diego Helen Cullyer and I met with Jamie McIntyre of Cambridge University Press to learn about a European open-access initiative (Plan S from cAOlition S) that will likely have an impact on the journals of many learned societies, including ours. We will need to monitor the situation as the comment period ends and a final proposal emerges in the middle of 2019, and we need to consult with our TAPA publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press.

Committee on Translations of Classical Authors

A panel sponsored by the Committee took place in San Diego. “A Century of Translating Poetry” covered topics related to the changing aims and methods of literary translation of Greek and Latin poetry, considering examples from an influential modernist project of 1915 to the present. The panel was well attended and well received, and the Committee plans to sponsor panels on various aspects of translation studies in the future (the next at the 2021 meeting).

Andrew Zissos, who now chairs the committee and manages the incipient database of translations at UCI, reports that some further refinements to data structure have been made and that in recent months he has been granted some of the time of a professional software developer from School of Humanities Computing at Irvine. He is now exploring a couple of possible pathways for further funding to make it possible to open the database for populating new data by crowd-sourcing. In the best case, there will be something to demonstrate at the 2020 meeting and the database may be open for business at that time.

Digital Latin Library

During the past year the DLL completed its development grant phase and its Library of Digital Latin Texts is now open for business. With Committee on Publications and Research sponsorship, Sam Huskey organized a panel on the DLL for the San Diego meeting. This explained the current state of the project and additional features and tools that are in progress and provided the perspective of two experienced text editors on the new techniques and workflows that the digital edition allows or invites.

The guidelines and procedures for submitting proposals for editions of classical Latin texts were added the SCS website, and an announcement with a call for inquiries and proposals was issued. In April one scholar reserved a text (the Ovidian Ibis and scholia on it) and is working on a preproposal to submit. In August a graduate student inquired in a very preliminary way about the Sallustian Epistulae ad Caesarem senem de re publica, but it is not yet clear whether he will actually decide to work on this, or when. Meanwhile, work proceeds on the online version of the Murgia-Kaster Servius (on Aeneid 9-12) and Cynthia Damon’s edition of Bellum Alexandrinum.

I assisted Helen Cullyer in completing the legal agreement with the University of Oklahoma in relation to their hosting the LDLT editions the SCS approves, and a separate template agreement to be used between the SCS and editors who publish editions in LDLT with our approval. Sam Huskey and the legal counsel at the University of Oklahoma were very helpful in this process.

Information Architect

We are very fortunate that Information Architect Sam Huskey has agreed to continue for one more year so that recruiting a successor can be better coordinated with the ongoing changes regarding the website, which has a new contractor for maintenance and security as of July 1, 2018. Recruitment of a successor should take place later in 2019. Sam and the new contractor are currently reviewing the site and developing a strategy for addressing some of the issues that Sam has not had time to address himself.

TLL

In the spring, the SCS application for NEH grant renewal was approved for another three years; Helen Cullyer did the bulk of the work on the application and Kathleen Coleman also provided invaluable help to Yelena Baraz, who is in charge of both our TLL committees (advisory and selection). The 2018-2019 fellow is hard at work in Munich (and has in fact been selected to continue the work in 2019-2020). Yelena reports that the task of creating a new selection committee each year (as required by NEH rules) was a little more challenging than usual because of the difficulty of finding an external member in the San Diego area. There are continuing concerns that the NEH’s insistence that applicants have their PhD completed at the time of application (rather than at the time of taking up the position, as formerly) has depressed the size of the applicant pool and made it harder to improve the diversity of the applicant pool.

The new NEH officer supervising the program under which the TLL Fellowship is funded attended the San Diego meeting. He had a promising discussion with Yelena and Helen Cullyer, raising some hope that he might be more receptive to our concerns about NEH requirements we view as counterproductive; but it remains to be seen whether modifying these rules lies within his power or they are imposed from a higher level.

At the San Diego meeting Kathleen Coleman gave a workshop on how to use the TLL.

American Office of L’Année Philologique

The Advisory Board discussed what effects the transition to Brepols has had on the work of the staff at the American Office. While they have in general adapted well to the new workflow, the burden of reading proofs of the first printed volume published by Brepols (which is bound in two volumes because of the number of pages) has been time-consuming. Early experiments with importing article data automatically to be checked by the editors proved to be unsuccessful, since the data has so many errors and inconsistencies that correcting them took longer than entering information from scratch. Nevertheless, Brepols will continue to work on this process, since if it can be made accurate enough, it would assist the limited staff here and elsewhere in dealing with the ever-growing number of items to include. Brepols has also pushed the bibliographers in all the offices to increase the number of keywords per item, so it will be more similar to the other bibliographic indexes they host online.

The Board also discussed the usefulness of abstracts printed in many journals and proposed that the SCS endorse the idea that classics journals and editors of collective volumes should routinely include both an abstract and keywords prepared by each author. I brought a resolution to the Board of Directors on Jan. 6 and it was approved. Once the guidelines for how to make an abstract as useful as possible as a source for l’APh bibliographers, this resolution will be publicized and brought to the attention of the English-language journals that are the responsibility of the American Office. The SCS delegate to FIEC will also bring this proposal to the upcoming meeting in the hope that the practice will be recommended more broadly.

After a few years of turmoil at various European offices, the situation seems to be more settled now or at least promises to be more settled soon. More worrying for the SCS is the continued lack of clarity about how much lower our royalties will be under the SIBC contract with Brepols. 2018 was untypical in that it was the year of gradual transition from other vendors to Brepols, and it remains unclear how many former subscribers will continue with Brepols in the long term. Brepols has a much different pricing structure that causes steep increases for some institutions (because of their campus’ Carnegie rating, to which Brepols’ prices are keyed), and to hold on to some of these subscribers Brepols offered, with SIBC’s consent, 50% discounts for the first year to dozens of subscribers, to keep their cost close to what it had been before. This means that the first year or two of royalties may be even lower than predicted before the new contract took effect and that we won’t have a firm sense of how many former subscribers have been lost and how many new ones gained for another year or two.

Digital Preservation

I have appointed a Task Force on Digital Preservation. The charge and membership are below. So far we have had one video meeting and a short meeting in San Diego that only half of us could attend. So far we have conducted information gathering using an online survey form. There were about 50 responses, and we are now engaged in analyzing them and starting to draft recommendations about options and best practices.

SCS Digital Preservation Task Force (in collaboration with AIA members)

Individual scholars and small groups of scholars have created and made available on the internet a wide range of materials, including open source code, that offer the results of research or provide services in support of research (including translations of documents or paraliterary texts not elsewhere available, bibliographies, or collections of archaeological and other types of data). Such materials are often not covered by the umbrella of a larger initiative (such as Perseus, Stoa.org, Papyri.info, digitallatin.org [Digital Latin Library], OpenContext, tDAR), but depend on ad hoc arrangements for hosting made by the scholars themselves.  And even larger initiatives may be challenged by issues of continuity and long-term preservation.  The continued availability, usability, and citability of resources, including software code, may be threatened by events like the death of the organizer, change of directorship, the departure of the organizer from one institution to another, or local budget crises and reorganizations that disrupt hosting at one’s own institution. Hosting at a single institution may also pose problems when the research team contains contributors from more than one institution. While there are now various scholarly repositories where static data may be archived, and at some institutions the library will host a website that is more or less frozen, these facilities do not address the needs of ongoing projects.

The Digital Preservation Task Force is charged with examining the following:

1. What preliminary estimate can be made of the number of such publications, sites or projects within Classics (including Classical Archaeology) and of the range of hosting infrastructure and programming that they rely on?  How many of these have long-term preservation solutions in place already?

2. To what degree do current facilities like open-access scholarship repositories, GitHub, MLA Humanities Commons (hcommons.org), and Zenodo.org offer possible solutions for such projects?

3. Is a federated solution feasible? If so:

a. What would be the desiderata to be addressed in further planning for a scholarly consortium concerned with archiving and preservation of digital publications?

b. What partners (e.g., from other disciplinary organizations in the humanities and social sciences, or from major research libraries) would it be best to involve in further planning?

c. What are possible sources of grant funding for more detailed planning and eventual implementation?

Marie-Claire Beaulieu, Tufts U.

Helen Catherine Cullyer, ex officio

Helma Dik, U. of Chicago

Tom Elliott, ISAW, NYU, co-chair

Theresa R. Hunstman, Sardis Excavations, Harvard Art Museums

Eric C. Kansa, opencontext.org

Donald Mastronarde, VP, co-chair

Joshua Sosin, Duke U.

Joshua Westgard, U. of Maryland (Library)

Sesquicentennial history of APA/SCS publications

In preparation for the sesquicentennial celebration, Helen and her summer work-study assistant helped me compile a list of book publications of the APA/SCS (expanding a partial list begun by Roger Bagnall), and we have clarified various bibliographic conundrums. I also researched the history of book publications as recorded in Proceedings from 1927 onward and later in Newsletters and wrote a narrative to go along with the official listing of books published. These have been on the SCS website since December 2018.


Digital Project reviews

For a couple of years now Christopher Francese has organized the production of reviews on our website of select digital projects. Publications and Research has now adopted this activity, which is a partial fulfillment of one idea raised by the Joint Electronic Publication Task Force of 2006. I have created a small editorial committee that will continue the selection of sites to review, the recruiting of suitable reviewers, and the initial vetting of reviews. The editorial committee initially consists of Scott Arcenas (Stanford), Christopher Francese (Dickinson College), Ivy Livingston (Harvard), Leigh Lieberman (Claremont Colleges), Matthew Loar (U. of Nebraska).


Library Digital Resources Survey

In response to a request from a department chair and also to improve our own sense of the issues, the SCS sent out in November both to department chairs and to the Classics Librarian group a request for responses to a few questions on this subject. Thirty responses were received, from institutions of varied sizes, missions, and wealth, so it is difficult to summarize the results. It is true, however, that there are institutions that cannot afford to subscribe to TLG or TLL and several resources offered by Brill, and that some have declined to subscribe to Brill resources not because it would be impossible for them to afford them but because they regard the price as too high in relation to what would become accessible.

Donald Mastronarde, VP Publications and Research

More February 2019 Newsletter Content

Read our Executive Director's introduction to the VP reports from this year

Learn about our event with Emily Wilson, BAM, the Aquila Theater Company and the Onassis Foundation USA

Read the Education and Communication & Outreach Reports

Read the Professional Matters Report

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