SCS Blog

The SCS Blog is edited and overseen by the SCS Communication Committee. Graduate students, independent scholars, teachers of all levels, faculty, and any other scholar who wishes to pitch a blogpost should use our Google Form or email a member of the committee directly. Please also note our “Blog Guidelines” prior to submitting a pitch.


01/26/2014
Classical studies as we know it today grew partly from the pressure of politics — from people’s need for a repertoire of words and images that could respond to the new political possibilities in early modern Europe.  When Coluccio Salutati studied Latin prose composition at his boarding school in Bologna, he focused on the art of letter-writing (the ars dictaminis), as generations of Italian boys had done before him.  But his teacher also lectured on Cicero and other classical authors — and as Salutati’s career took him to the chancellorships of Todi, Lucca, and Florence, his...
01/26/2014
One of the great things about working on a commentary is the random avenues it leads you down.  What starts out looking like an unpromising bit of text turns out to raise issues about the ancient world that you’d never have thought of. Before you know it, you’re discovering all kinds of obscure debates, bizarre ancient texts, and random pieces of trivia: it’s the scholarly equivalent of link-surfing on wikipedia. My most recent experience of this began with one of Archilochus’ least known fragments, 217 West, 'with hair shorn away from the shoulders close to the skin'. Not a line that...
01/20/2014
The editors and editorial board of the APA’s outreach publication Amphora are very pleased to announce Amphora is making itself yet more available to its readership. In coming weeks, in addition to its annual print appearance, Amphora will also publish its articles and reviews via the APA’s blog. Articles and reviews will each have a tag of Amphora, to help readers determine which content stream is which, as usual for the blog. Such tagged pieces will also appear in the print version of the publication, possibly with minor modification as called for by a switch from one format to another...
01/10/2014
In last month’s column, I offered an overview of the Greek myth of the Titanomachy, the war between the Olympian gods (Zeus, Hera, and all the rest) and the earlier generation, the Titans; and I discussed some recent media telling of the escape of the Titans from their underworld prison and a second Titanomachy: in Disney’s 1997 Hercules, in the 1998 straight-to-video Hercules and Xena animated movie, in the 2012 movie Wrath of the Titans (sequel to the remake of Clash of the Titans), in the 2013 movie Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, in the 2011 movie Immortals, and in the video game series...
12/18/2013
Garrett Fagan recently posed an interesting question in his very useful discussion of the crisis in the humanities: “should we embrace the competition for students in a marketplace of majors?” That my answer is “yes” is probably evident from my last post, in which I urged classicists to participate in public discourse in order to insure that the public image of Classics is both attractive to our students and acceptable to their parents. Not everyone shares this view. Many scholars cringe at the economic and corporate metaphors that often cluster around this issue (“competition,” “...
12/16/2013
Last week I saw something that I never thought I’d see: a new Greek tragedy. I don’t mean an adaptation of a Greek play or a modern drama inspired by a Greek myth. This was a new play, with no direct overlap with any ancient drama, but which was structured and written exactly like a fifth-century Athenian tragedy. The staging itself was in many ways very modern, but when you stripped that away and looked at the script itself, it was stylistically almost perfect. Okay, one could quibble: I’m not sure they could have staged it with just three actors; the choral odes were split across episodes...
12/15/2013
Why has the Titanomachy been so fascinating a subject for movies, TV, and video games in recent years? In Greek myth, the Titans were the gods who ruled the cosmos in the generation before the ascent of the Olympians (Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, and the like).  The king of the Titans, Kronos, came to power by castrating his father Ouranos and held onto that power — in view of a prophecy that his son would overthrow him — by swallowing each of his children at birth.  But his wife, Rhea, replaced baby Zeus with a rock and hid him on the island of Crete until he grew strong...
12/12/2013
There has been much ink spilt recently about a “crisis” in the humanities. In the New York Times alone there have been articles and a “Room for Debate” discussion of the “crisis.” Steven Pinker has weighed into the debate in The New Republic, generating ripostes from Leon Wieseltier in the same publication and Gary Gutting in the New York Times. Heated debate among readers can be charted in the comment boards attached to all of these publications. The facts that generated the discussion seem clear cut: only eight percent of college graduates specialize in the humanities; at Stanford, where...
11/11/2013
OK, my title is a more than a little tongue in cheek. Blogging for the APA doesn’t make me a public intellectual. Nor does the one article I’ve published for a wider public, a piece on Petronius for Salon.com. But by the same token it seems to me that most professional classical scholars don't pursue publishing in such venues, and I think more of us should attempt it. There are a lot of reasons why we don't. We’re not trained to write for broad audiences, and the tenure and promotion system demands that we devote our energy to peer-reviewed publications. Most of us don't know how we would...
11/06/2013
Over the summer I saw a production of Antigone at the Schaubühne in Berlin, and for the most part I absolutely hated it. In a way this was rather good – I’ve seen so many blah-blah-just-fine productions of Greek tragedy that it’s easy to forget the invigorating ire that trickles down your spine when you see the immortal lines to which you’ve devoted your career trampled into the dust before your eyes. It was a classic example of artistic navel-gazing at its most extreme: the whole play was set in a therapy group, where the actors took it in turns to adopt the roles of different participants...

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