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SCS Newsletter - February 2020 (Program and Publications & Research)

Program Division Report

(September 2019, with an addendum from January 2020)

The elected members of the 2019 Program Committee were Barbara Weiden Boyd, Raffaella Cribiore, Simon Goldhill, Johanna Hanink, Timothy Moore, Andrew Riggsby, and myself. On 3-4 June 2019 we met in the SCS offices in New York to consider submissions for the 2020 meeting, held in Washington, D.C. Cherane Ali, Erik Shell, and Helen Cullyer provided indispensable support in making our meeting possible and our deliberations efficient.

1. Before the June 2019 meeting we strengthened our language about the responsibility of panel organizers to consider diversity when putting together sessions for the Program: Organizers of the various panel-type sessions (panels, seminars, workshops etc.) are strongly encouraged to assemble a diverse group of speakers, remembering that diversity is essential to our profession and to scholarly inquiry, and that the anonymity of materials reviewed by the Program Committee leaves diversity in the hands of panel organizers. An explicit statement about diversity was required in each Organizer’s Statement, but we did not prescribe a definition for diversity.

2. A substantial portion of the 2020 program was effectively in place when we began our work on the 2020 submissions in April-June 2019. Thus for the 20 panels assembled by affiliated groups and the 2 organizer-refereed panels we simply reviewed the organizers’ reports. On the 2019 meeting program there were 14 panels organized by affiliated groups and 5 organizer-refereed panels. At the June 2019 meeting we approved the charter applications of three new affiliated groups: the Asian and Asian American Classical Caucus (Category 2), the Multiculturalism, Race & Ethnicity in Classics Consortium (Category 1) and the Quintilian Society (Category 2). We also renewed the charters of three long-standing affiliated groups (all Category 2): the American Society of Papyrologists, the Lambda Classical Caucus, and the Society for Early Modern Classical Reception. Groups with Category 2 affiliation may organize program units for annual meetings.

3. Complete program unit submissions for the 2020 meeting: we received 22 proposals for at-large panels, 4 for seminars, 3 for SCS committee panels, 7 for organizer-refereed panels, 10 for workshops, and 8 for roundtable discussions. (By comparison with the numbers for the 2019 meeting, these were lower or the same, except for the uptick in seminars, from 0.) These submissions were reviewed in three phases. Before the meeting all abstracts were read and rated by 4 committee members chosen by the Program Committee chair (30 April). Abstracts that received a mixed rating (neither wholly positive nor wholly negative) were then read and rated by the full committee (21 May). All of the abstracts in the second group were discussed at the June meeting. There were no predetermined quotas for the number of sessions that could be accepted, and each submission was considered on its own merits and in accordance with the guidelines published on the ‘Types of Sessions’ webpage. 

4. Individual submissions: we received 316 abstracts for papers and 16 abstracts for lightning talks. The former number was substantially lower than the numbers in previous years: 405 paper abstracts were submitted for the 2017 meeting (Toronto, acceptance rate 32.6%), 366 abstracts for the 2018 meeting (Boston, acceptance rate 42.3%), 382 for the 2019 sesquicentennial meeting in San Diego (acceptance rate 42.4%). For the new category of lightning talks the number was similar (14 for San Diego). The submissions were reviewed in three phases. Before the meeting all paper abstracts were read and rated (‘reject’ or ‘move to second-round vote’) by one reader chosen by the Program Committee chair from the Program Committee and the six Directors at Large (Robin Mitchell-Boyask, Anthony Corbeill, Kirk Ormand, Anne Groton, Christina Kraus, Mary Jaeger); lightning talk abstracts were read by a member of the Program Committee (8 May). The 209 paper abstracts that received a ‘move to second-round vote’ were read and rated by all Program Committee members before the meeting (21 May); 107 were rejected before this stage. Abstracts that received a mixed rating in the second round of reading (neither wholly positive nor wholly negative) were discussed individually at the June meeting. Each abstract was discussed until a consensus was reached. There were no predetermined quotas for the number of papers that could be accepted, and each abstract was considered on its own merits and in accordance with the published guidelines.

5. The program: We accepted 15 (of 22) at-large panels, 4 (of 4) seminars, 3 (of 3) SCS Committee panels, 2 (of 7) organizer-refereed panels, 9 (of 10) workshops, and 7 (of 8) roundtable discussions. These program units contributed a total of 140 individual presentations to the 2020 meeting (not counting introductions or responses). As was mentioned above, the program also included 20 panels organized by affiliated groups and 2 panels refereed by their organizers, sessions that contributed a total of 107 individual papers to the 2020 meeting. In the individual submission category we accepted 146 (of 316) papers and 11 (of 16) lightning talks; three other lightning talk submissions were combined into a workshop on pedagogy. On the final afternoon of the June meeting we organized the accepted papers into sessions, identified potential presiders, and drafted a preliminary program for the meeting in Washington, D.C.

The statistics for submission and acceptance by gender of author are as follows. For the 2020 meeting there were 177 (56.01%) individual submissions by men, 139 (43.99%) by women; 92 accepted papers had male authors (63.01%), 54 had women authors (36.99%). There is thus a noticeable gap between the roughly 60/40 gender ratio in the membership and the gender ratio of the authors of individually submitted papers on the program. However, the gap disappears when one considers the gender of those included in pre-arranged program units (i.e., in units whose composition was settled before the date for the submission of individual abstracts). Affiliated group and organizer-refereed panels contributed 52 papers by men and 55 by women; at-large panels, seminars, and workshops contributed 57 presentations by men, 83 by women. Overall, there were 393 individual presentations (not counting introduction and responses), 201 by men (51.1%), 192 by women (48.9%). In organizing the individual submissions into paper sessions the committee made a concerted effort to avoid sessions in which all participants were men or women. 

The statistics for the disciplinary categories of the accepted papers have not yet been generated, but some well represented topics are pedagogy, the reception of Greco-Roman antiquity, and urgent professional issues.

6. Of special note: 

  • 4 seminars. This type of session makes a welcome reappearance on the program after a gap of some years.
  • 10 joint AIA/SCS sessions.
  • An opening night lecture by Madeline Miller.
  • A first-time attendees reception at lunch time on Friday.
  • A staged reading of Joseph Addison’s Cato on Friday evening, organized by Rob Groves for the Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance.
  • A reception and art exhibition organized by Eos: Africana Reception of Greece and Rome and related to their panel on Black Classicisms and the visual arts.
  • Daily workshops on ‘Responding to Harassment: Bystander Intervention’
  • A Career Networking event at lunchtime on Saturday.
  • The Presidential Panel on Saturday evening, a roundtable discussion on the topic of ‘Central and Marginal in Classical Studies,’ moderated by Tolly Boatwright.

7. The Local Arrangements Committee was chaired by Norman Sandridge of Howard University and Katherine Wasdin of University of Maryland, College Park. Members included: Francisco Barrenechea (University of Maryland, College Park), Victoria Pedrick (Georgetown University), Elise Friedland (George Washington University), Brien Garnand (Howard University), Carolivia Herron (Howard University), and Sarah Ferrario (Catholic University). The committee has two principal tasks. The first is putting together the all-important Local Arrangements Guide, which lets us know where to eat and drink, how to get around, what to see, and so on. The second is to organize the crew of student volunteers who assist the SCS office staff, primarily with the Registration booth. The volunteers, in exchange for some hours of their time, receive free registration for the meeting. Thanks are due to all participants in these essential endeavors, and especially to co-chairs Sandridge and Wasdin.

8. New (and newish) aspects of the 2020 meeting:

a) A new presider’s memo streamlined procedures and clarified the presider’s role in maintaining an atmosphere of professional courtesy and rational discussion.

b) New guidance on best practices for accommodating audience members with disabilities.

c) A new procedure for Q&A for potentially high-risk sessions: audience members write questions on index cards for a moderator to review and read. This was a recommendation from Tony Moore, a consultant who led a diversity workshop for the Board.

d) Filming of several sessions suitable for wider dissemination, with the participants’ permission.

e) An on-site Ombuds, joint with AIA.

f) A new joint harassment policy covering participation in the annual meeting.

g) A new joint disability policy covering participation in the annual meeting. 

h) Higher registration fees (raised by 5%).

9. Minor alterations to procedure for submissions for the 2021 meeting (see further below, in the Addendum):

a) Added ‘Race and Ethnicity’ to the submission system’s drop-down list of categories that an abstract-submitter may select as relevant to his/her submission; we track the statistics for these categories.

b) Reduced abstract length from 650 words to 500 words to encourage a more concise and effective presentation of the pertinent issues and argument.

10. Other issues under discussion by the Program Committee:

a) The role of pre-arranged program units in the annual meeting.

b) The remit of the committee as it pertains to the social and ‘atmospheric’ aspects of the program. Does the Program Committee have a role in developing alternatives to the numerous alcohol-fueled social occasions and in ensuring a welcoming atmosphere? Some first steps in 2020, and in collaboration with AIA, are a reception for first-time attendees (on Friday) and a lecture by Madeline Miller, author of Circe (on Thursday evening). Other committees are of course working on these important aspects of the program as well.

c) Streamlining the cumbersome ‘Types of Sessions’ page.

11. On the Committee’s behalf I warmly thank all those who submitted abstracts, organized panels, and agreed to chair sessions for the meeting in Washington, D.C.; my colleagues on the Board who provided substantial assistance in the first-round vetting for individual submissions; and Cherane Ali, Erik Shell, and Helen Cullyer for their help in all aspects of preparing the program. Speaking for myself, and I am sure the membership at large, I also warmly thank my colleagues on the Program Committee, whose service demands weeks of their time each year, and in particular the colleagues whose term is now ending, Simon Goldhill and Andrew Riggsby, whose learning, wit, and collegiality typify what is best in the Association.

12. Addendum, January 2020

The elected members of the 2020 Program Committee are Barbara Weiden Boyd, Raffaella Cribiore, Johanna Hanink, Timothy Moore, Melissa Mueller, Carlos Noreña, and myself. We met on 3 January 2020 to review Program Division procedures and policies and to discuss divisional business. Our agenda opened with a discussion with Krishni Burns, the chair of the Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance, which is part of the Program Division. The discussion was meant to strengthen the lines of communication between CAMP, the Program Committee, and the Board, and was supplemented by the attendance of the VP for Program at the CAMP meeting (see below). Also on the docket was a discussion of our review procedures for individual abstracts, in particular, the initial round of review, in which a paper is vetted by a single reader, whose decision is either ‘reject’ or ‘move forward to second-round review.’ For 2021 and subsequent annual meetings all individual submissions will be read by two readers in the first round, and only those that are rejected by both readers will be removed from further consideration. This change, which we hope will reduce barriers to access to the annual meeting program, will double the work required in the initial round and increase that required in the second round by an as yet unknown amount (see item 4 above for the former procedures and timeline). To moderate its impact on the committee, which reads submissions on a tight schedule, we also changed the procedure for the second round: all submissions forwarded to the second round will now be read by five (instead of seven) members of the Program Committee; this change, together with the reduction in the length of individual abstracts (a change that was made on other grounds, see 9b above), will help keep the amount of material that committee members have to read manageable. In other business, we discussed the desirability of a social media policy for the annual meeting.

Report from the Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance (summarized): CAMP held its annual Business Meeting on 4 January 2020, with the Program Division VP in attendance. Agenda items included the 2020 play (Addison’s Cato, performed on 3 January), enhancing CAMP’s visibility on the SCS website (with, e.g., a digital archive of CAMP materials, a CAMP blog, and an updated database of performance scholars), an initiative to define and promote the scholarship-equivalence of performance, the future leadership of the committee, and changes to the call for future CAMP productions. The committee also discussed the play and committee-sponsored panel for the 2021 meeting.  

Respectfully submitted,

Cynthia Damon

Publications and Research Report


I collaborated with TAPA Editor Andromache Karanika to produce an extra issue, designated TAPA 149:2S by the press. This anniversary issue marking the sesquicentenary of the association was published in early December, thanks to the efforts of the contributors and the efficient cooperation of the press.

In response to the events in San Diego and the increased attention to inclusion adopted as a priority by the Board of Directors, it has been decided that a future regular issue of TAPA will be devoted to the theme of race, racism, and Classics. Patrice Rankine and Sasha-Mae Eccleston have agreed to be co-editors for the content of this issue (the production aspects will still be handled by the TAPA Editor). The issue will contain peer-reviewed research, and a call for papers will be disseminated the first months of 2020.

As for routine TAPA business, all the issues Andromache Karanika has worked on have been on time. The time from submission to decision has generally been good, and this year more submissions from women and on Latin topics have been coming in. The number of submissions spiked significantly during 2019 (reaching almost 100, about 50% more than 2018), for reasons that are not altogether clear, since other US journals have not reported such a significant increase.

An effort is now under way to formalize the recruitment and rotation of members of the TAPA editorial board, first instituted a few years ago.

Other Issues with Classics journals

In response to the expressions of dissatisfaction with representation in journals and suspicions about peer review (a notable area where younger and older members of the profession, and women and men have differing perceptions), the SCS is working on restoring the ability to conduct surveys of journals with some kind of useful and consistent demographic data. Such information was gathered for almost 30 years (from the 1980s onward) in order to document whether gender disparities were being reduced. About ten years ago it became too difficult to gather and analyze the data and the practice ended, although many journals kept track of submissions and outcomes classified by gender in order to scrutinize their own practices. We need to have a consensus about what data to gather and report, and if possible the data should track not only gender, as in the past, but other demographic categories. Since gathering such information from submitters while maintaining sequestration of the information from the editorial process will be impossible for journals that do not have an editorial assistant, and secure retention of such data in compliance with US and European laws is also beyond the scope of most journals’ operation, the SCS will seek to create an online reporting system and be custodian of data that needs to be secured.

We have also had some discussions with journal editors about peer-review practices. Many journals make their practices known online, and double-blind reviewing is routine.

Digital Latin Library

Work has continued on the LDLT editions of Servius on Aen. 9–12 by Bob Kaster and of Bellum Alexandrinum by Cynthia Damon, and these are both expected to be online in 2020. Three scholars have expressed interest in editing various (short) texts of classical Latin, but no official preproposal with sample has yet been received. The first of these will perhaps arrive in the first half of 2020 and provide the first test of our procedures for review. A reminder about the invitation to submit has been added to recent monthly news emails to members.

Information Architect

Great progress has been made on moving tasks connected with the website from Information Architect Sam Huskey to the SCS’s web contractor and/or SCS staff.


The number of applicants remains somewhat lower than it was before the NEH insisted that applicants have completed all requirements of the PhD at the time of application rather than at the time of taking up the position in Munich. But the quality of the applicants has been high. The TLL Committee continues to work through the obstacles imposed by the NEH rules demanding the constant rotation of the selection committee, and praise is due to committee chair Yelena Baraz for her meeting the challenges successfully.

American Office of L’Année Philologique

The SCS resolution recommending to journals and to presses that publish edited volumes that they include abstracts and keywords (if not already doing to) was communicated to a list of editors of English-language journals and presses, and the response from editors was quite positive. Michael Gagarin carried the recommendation to the FIEC meeting last summer and, with a very minor addition, it was approved at the General Assembly of Delegates, so that it now is addressed beyond the English-language publications in our field.

At the recent meeting of the SCS Advisory Board, we discussed how classical reception has traditionally been very narrowly defined in L’APh and how poorly represented contemporary forms of the study of reception are. The board recommended that the staff of the American Office seek to expand the coverage in this area.

The cost of the American Office, which is no longer quite covered in full by endowment income and annual donations designated for it, is an ongoing concern and could in future put even more pressure on the constrained budget of the SCS. To meet this financial challenge, it may be time to seek annual contributions from classical associations in other English-speaking countries. In addition, a task force is about to be formed to investigate the future of bibliography.

Digital Project reviews

By the end of 2019, the small editorial board created last year to solicit and vet digital project reviews had attained a pace of producing one new review per month. The board’s chair, Chris Francese, deserves substantial credit for maintaining and expanding this project.

Classics in Translation project

Andrew Zissos, having taken the project to UC Irvine, modified its goals somewhat to make it more attractive to potential funders. He now has James Brusuelas (U. of Kentucky) as a co-director, providing the project with excellent digital humanities credentials. Although an application for an NEH Digital Advancement Grant in 2019 was not funded, they are now in a better position to rework the proposal for one or more applications in the near future. The committee advising this project also has another goal, to foster scholarship on translation, and after a successful panel organized for the San Diego meeting, another panel is being organized for submission to the program of the Chicago meeting.

New Proposal about Magistrates of the Roman Republic

A group of scholars are in a preliminary phase of planning for the creation of an online updating and expansion of this famous APA publication by T. R. S. Broughton. They spoke briefly at the meeting of the Committee on Publications and Research, where some advice was offered. The SCS is now consulting with OUP to clarify the status of the parts of MRR that were covered by the 2000 contract between APA and OUP (vol. 2 was not covered by the contract). It is hoped that all rights will revert to SCS so that it will be straightforward for SCS to grant permission to use MRR in this new project.

Donald Mastronarde, VP for Publications and Research

Jan. 9, 2020

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