Distinguished Service Award - Donald Mastronarde

Donald J. Mastronarde is about to retire from full-time teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1973.  In that time he has received numerous awards for distinguished scholarship including a Guggenheim fellowship in 1984, an ACLS fellowship in 1996, an NEH fellowship in 2001, a Loeb Classical Library fellowship in 2009 and our own Goodwin Award for his Cambridge text and commentary on Euripides’ Phoenissae.  He has also served our Society and the field at large by developing, maintaining, and improving a number of series of publications and digital projects in classics.  The happy coincidence that is placing our annual meeting across the bay from Prof. Mastronarde’s institution just as he is about to retire (or at least reduce his workload) makes this the perfect year to recognize his many contributions to the field. 

SCS members have elected Prof. Mastronarde to the Board of Directors for 2007-2010 and to the Nominating Committee for 2011-2014.  In the latter position, he improved Committee procedures by digitizing the ranking of candidates for each ballot.  As Editor of the Monographs Series from 2001-2006 he guided a number of useful books to publication, and in 2006-2007 he chaired the joint task force with AIA that published a report championing the place of electronic publishing in classics scholarship and teaching.  From 2011 to 2014 he served as one of the initial members of our new Committee on Translations, and for as long as the TLG operated an outside advisory board, he represented the Society’s interests and concerns.

But some of the most important contributions he has made to the SCS do not appear on our annual roster of officers, directors, and committees.  For several years he provided support for our Pandora software until Apple’s abandonment of Hypercard made the program impossible to run.  More important, since 2001, he has kept our GreekKeys software available to members, an accomplishment that has required much more effort than that simple statement would suggest.  During this time he has updated the software several times in response to changes in both operating systems and word processing software by both Apple and Microsoft.  In fact, in 2007 he made the software available for Windows operating systems after a hiatus of a decade.  He created a Unicode font for the software and transferred its sales from CD-ROMs distributed by the SCS Office to an online store, a change that significantly reduced the burden of fulfillment and financial management on the Office.  And, throughout this period he has provided swift and patient support to purchasers of the software both via e-mail to users in difficulty and via a web site that he created.  Since 2001 the software has generated almost $150,000 in gross revenue while expenses in the same period did not exceed $10,000.  Finally, this year he produced a final update of GreekKeys which we are selling at a reduced price so that he no longer has to support it. 

Prof. Mastronarde’s contributions to the field, and particularly to the digital humanities in our field, extend well beyond SCS projects.  He was Director of the Center for Tebtunis Papyri from 2001-2011, a member (1988-90) and then chair (1990-93) of the editorial board for the monograph series “University of California Publications: Classical Studies”.  He also chaired the editorial board of the journal Classical Antiquity from 1992-1996 and was chair from 2012-2015 of the editorial board of California Classical Studies a major new outlet for electronic publication of longer scholarship.

Editorial work and the development of digital tools requires exacting standards and close attention to detail so it is not surprising to find the very same qualities in Prof. Mastronarde’s scholarship. Although his interests in Greek literature is wide, it is Euripides who has benefitted most from his discerning eye. His editions and commentaries of the Phoenissae for Teubner (1988) and Cambridge (1994) as well as the Medea (Cambridge 2002) are based on an exhaustive study of the plays’ textual traditions which he continues to pursue in his Online Edition to the Scholia on Euripides. It is also the firm foundation for his interpretive works including Contact and Discontinuity: Some Conventions of Speech and Action on the Greek Tragic Stage (UC 1979) and his most recent monograph, The Art of Euripides: Dramatic Technique and Social Context (Cambridge 2010). His Introduction to Attic Greek, now in its second edition (UC 2013), is one of the most rigorous textbooks available for leading students through their crucial first year of Greek. In short, Prof. Mastronarde’s contributions to scholarship and teaching are both wide and deep.

For over 40 years Donald J. Mastronarde has been a quiet but extremely important force for advances in the field of classics and well deserves the Society’s Distinguished Service Award.

Adam D. Blistein
Dee L. Clayman

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