Exciting SCS News.
Two events are having a terrific impact on the Outreach dimension of our organization: the name change and a new website. The name change is making us and our mission clearer and more accessible to a broader public, and a beautiful new logo has been created:
The new website, which will be launched this fall, will be handsome, easy to use, and full of new features. In the words of Executive Director Adam Blistein, the website “will add features targeted to a variety of audiences, improve its accessibility to different types of users, and facilitate communications that support the Society’s goal to be the public face of Classics in North America.”
Outreach Prize 2014. The annual Outreach Prize recognizes outstanding projects or events by an APA/SCS member or members that make an aspect of classical antiquity available and attractive to audiences other than classics scholars or students in their courses. The deadline for nominations for the 2014 prize was September 2; two new nominations came in, and since nominations remain valid for three years, four previously submitted nominations are also under consideration. The Outreach Prize Committee (which currently consists of Martha Malamud, Peter Meineck, and Chair Ruby Blondell) will evaluate these nominations, and if they decide to award the prize the winner will receive it at the annual meeting in New Orleans in January 2015.
A very special event will take place at APA/SCS New Orleans! Poet and adaptor Anne Carson has been invited by President Gutzwiller to direct a reading of Antigonick, her play based on Sophocles’ Antigone, on Thursday January 8 from 8-10 p.m. The readers will include the author and her husband, as well as Professor Judith Butler, philosopher and gender theorist, who will play the role of Kreon; SCS members will also be involved. The Outreach Committee will work with the Local Committee to encourage teachers, students and all interested parties to attend Antigonick and other appropriate events, such as the performance of Wealth (see below), at the annual meeting.
At the New Orleans meeting the Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance will present a staged reading of Aristophanes’ Wealth in a new translation by Karen Rosenbecker directed by Artemis Preeshl (both at Loyola University New Orleans). The writer and director collaborated on a production of this script, which reflects local issues, in January 2013. The performance will take place on Friday, January 9, 2015, 7-9 p.m.
Activities of Committees in the Outreach Division.
The Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance (CAMP) has been working for several years developing policies and materials which demonstrate that performance is a form of scholarship and should be recognized as such. Professor Mark Damen, Chair of CAMP, has recently submitted a “white paper” to Vice-President for Publications and Research Michael Gagarin. A propos of performance as scholarship, Sharon James reports that the videos of Roman comedy in performance generated during the NEH Institute she and Tim Moore ran at the University of North Carolina in summer 2012 and posted on YouTube have now been seen 12,000 times in 105 countries!
On Saturday, January 10 8-10:30 a.m. at the annual meeting in New Orleans CAMP will sponsor a panel on Performance as Research, Performance as Pedagogy organized by T.H.M. Gellar-Goad (Wake Forest University). The organizer describes the panel as follows: “This panel presents new research on ancient and modern performance as well as explorations of the new interpretive insights and student learning outcomes made possible uniquely through the staging and adaptation of Greek and Roman plays. The panel—which includes papers on both tragedy and comedy, on authors both Greek and Roman—focuses especially on the interrelationships among performance, interpretation, and teaching. The act of staging or adapting an ancient play is a complex synthesis of close textual reading, material construction or reconstruction, thematic interpretation, reader-response analysis, and reception study. The challenges of bringing a text to life always bring with them new insights into the nature or function of the plays, and students who undertake performance find themselves engaged with the texts and the cultural spaces they inhabit in ways that are not achievable through solitary reading or in-class discussion.
The panel’s first half comprises new interpretations developed through staging and performance of Graeco-Roman drama. Paper #1, “Reconsidering choral projection in Aeschylus through performance,” evaluates previously unidentified instances of choral projection in Choephoroi, where the chorus prompts Electra’s departure from the play in shifting their focus from a song that she suggests to a song that envisions Orestes as a victorious athlete. This account better motivates the character of Electra in performance than mere recourse to the rule of three actors. Paper #2, “Behind the façade: Staging the house in Euripides’ Orestes,” shows how the physical staging of this play makes clear the Euripidean intertextual inversion of the House of Atreus, whose Aeschylean symbolism is undercut and effaced as the characters of Orestes treat the house as nothing more than its material structure. Paper #3, “Violence in Plautus: Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love performance,” considers the performance of violence in Plautine comedy in recent productions by professional classicists. The interplay between character and status and physical abuse can enhance comic farce—or can cause viewers to question their perceptions and treatment of high- and low-status individuals.
The second half of the panel assesses the value of performance in teaching ancient theater. Paper #4, “Doubling in practice and pedagogy,” examines the implications of producing and reading Euripides’ Hecuba with the three-actor rule of Greek tragedy. With the awareness that the same actor voices Talthybius, Polyxena, and Polymestor, students can be challenged not only to inhabit multiple roles in performance but also to interpret plays on more, and more sophisticated, levels of analysis. Paper #5, “Aristophanes in performance in the 21st-century classroom,” examines the kinship between close readings of plays for literary criticism and preparatory text analyses of them for theatrical production. An interdisciplinary workshop on Aristophanes’ Ekklesiazousai with students from Theater and from Classics revealed that these disciplinary approaches—related in methodology but divergent in aim—can work effectively in combination to illuminate and reinvigorate interpretive controversies and staging cruces in ancient drama.”
The Committee on Classical Tradition and Reception will sponsor a panel on Sunday January 11 11:30-1:30 on The Classics and Early Anthropology organized by Emily Varto (Dalhousie University). The organizer describes the panel as follows: “This panel seeks to understand the role the classics had in the great enterprise of anthropology, this field through which humanity’s present and future were to be understood.
The intellectual and pedagogical dominance of the classics in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is generally understood, as is classics’ formative intellectual role in the budding field of anthropology. Like many intellectuals, ethnologists and ethnographers often had their initial and advanced training in the classics. Classical scholarship also provided a wealth of collected and analyzed data from foreign cultures easily accessed in libraries and from the armchair. No other ‘other’ was so well studied and documented. That anthropology and classics share an intellectual past is clear, but the nature of their interaction is neither uniform nor straightforward. In order to develop a nuanced picture, this panel features papers that examine different areas of this interaction in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In doing so, the papers deal with some important theories at their origins (e.g., culture, developmentalism, social evolution, colonialism, linguistic evolution). The panel explores how this historical interaction affects current and future classical research, shaping our ideas about classical antiquity (e.g., Romanization, colonization, culture contact) and humans in general (e.g., culture, the ‘other’) and informing the methods we employ (e.g., comparative techniques, cultural linguistics).
The first two papers explore examples illustrating both the character of points of interaction between classics and anthropology, and the long-lasting influence they had on classical scholarship. Panelist #1 addresses the work of the preeminent nineteenth-century anthropologist E. B. Tylor, who employed classical material to define and understand primitive culture, and came, in turn, to influence the Cambridge ritualists. This paper looks specifically at the ideas he developed about Romanization and their legacy in the classics. Panelist #2 explores connections between nineteenth-century interpretations of colour terms in Homeric poetry and social evolution, revealing a nexus of classical philology, cultural linguistics, and anthropology. The paper illustrates how even recent theories on the historical development of languages are supported by nineteenth-century classicists’ work on Greek colour terminology.
Panelist #3 approaches the interaction between classics and anthropology by looking at how anthropological ideas have shaped our understanding of the classical world, specifically in the area of culture contact and formulations of the ‘other’. Exploring how nineteenth- to twentieth-century classicists presented the ‘other’, both ancient and contemporary, the paper illustrates how classics has been shaped by North American colonialism and anthropological ideas about the aboriginal ‘other’.
The first three papers highlight a problem with comparative approaches historically, especially since those approaches tend to have been based on social evolutionary, developmentalist, and frequently racist and elitist theory. If we have a problem historically with comparativism, can we do it at all? Panelist #4 presents a paper co-authored with an important scholar of classics and anthropology that addresses the question of comparativism: can we compare or can't we? If we can, how? The paper gives an overview of the history of comparative approaches using the classics, before suggesting, as way forward, a method by which comparativism might now be done. Therefore, this paper concludes the panel by addressing one of its key aims: to consider classics’ historical connections with anthropology so that we can better understand and assess our theories and methods.”
The Outreach Committee will sponsor a panel called “Writing Outside the Box: Communicating Classical Studies to Wider Audiences,” featuring five distinguished panelists who write about classical studies in different genres, styles, and venues. The genres include fiction, poetry, history, memoir, reviews, and blogs; the venues include popular presses, journals aimed at broad audiences, and the internet. The panelists share a common goal of attracting readers who are not professional classical scholars.
These panelists will describe their work “Writing Outside the Box,” discussing how and why they decided to present classical studies to non-specialist audiences, and the kinds of readers they have sought and reached. They will reflect on some of the intellectual and professional challenges they have encountered, as well as the successes they have achieved, offering advice to others who might consider following their important path.
Panelist #1, psychologist, feminist, and novelist Carol Gilligan, will speak on “Classics in a Different Voice,” focussing on the psychological acuity of classical writers and how their insights resonate with contemporary observations. Panelist #2, historian James Romm, will speak on “Modern Ancient History,” arguing that “character is the key that can unlock the power of these narratives and keep modern readers connected to the facts.” Panelist #3, novelist, translator, and memoirist Jane Alison, will speak on “The Art of Love/The Love of Art,” exploring how ancient narratives can continue to give form, beauty, and perspective to our own lives-in-progress: how we can read ourselves inside their structures even now. Panelist #4, poet and translator Carl Phillips, will speak on “Classics and the 21st-Century Poem,” discussing the ways in which his classical background informs both of those disciplines. Panelist #5, author, translator, editor, book reviewer, and blogger Emily Wilson, will speak on "Audiences Beyond the Box: Presenting Classics to Orchestra and Balcony,” hoping to encourage the audience to reconsider the marginalization of bridge writings within the mainstream of classical studies, and to make a case for their central importance within our discipline.
More Outreach News.
The editors and editorial board of the SCS outreach publication Amphora are very pleased that all the issues of Amphora including the latest, vol. 11 #1 (spring 2014) are available not only in print but also on the website: http://apaclassics.org/outreach/amphora. As always, Amphora editors welcome submissions, including submissions that take advantage of this new feature. These are important days for outreach activity by our professional association, and the Amphora and Outreach committees believe this new format will help reach a yet-larger market. Amphora welcomes submissions from professional scholars and experts on topics dealing with the worlds of ancient Greece and Rome. Submissions should not only reflect sound scholarship but have wide appeal to our outreach audience. Submissions pass through blind peer review; they are typically about 1800 words in length for articles, and 1000 words in length for reviews. Additional detail on submissions appears on the last page of each Amphora issue as well: https://classicalstudies.org/publications-and-research/amphora.
Some listservs and websites engaged in outreach activities:
1. Classics Confidential (http://classicsconfidential.co.uk/), a vodcast site founded in 2010 by members of the Classical Studies Department of the Open University.
2. A brand new international classical reception listserv: CLASSRECEP@listserv.biu.ac.il. It has some 350 members who are currently introducing themselves and their work to each other.
3. Classics Video Clips (developed by Oxford University, http://www.classics.ox.ac.uk/classics-video-clips.html).
I welcome your comments and suggestions at any time.