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.


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...
11/05/2013
“At last my love has come along.” — At Last, written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren tandem uenit amor (at last my love has come along) — Sulpicia poem 1, line 1   Etta James’ most famous song quotes the first line of the love-elegist Sulpicia, one of the few surviving Graeco-Roman women poets.  One of the song’s composers, Harry Warren (born Salvatore Antonio Guaragna), was the son of Italian immigrants.  Perhaps he encountered the line through them, and it stuck with him over the years?  More likely a coincidence.  In “Rumour Has It,” a recent chart-...
11/05/2013
For several weeks in August and September, the United States government considered whether or not to bomb Syria. Public support for bombing hovered around ten percent, but the nation’s leaders seemed open to proceeding with military action. Various reasons were offered – to prevent further deaths from gas attacks by Syrian government forces; to degrade the Assad regime’s capacity to launch such attacks; to enforce international laws banning chemical weapons; to honor President Obama’s “red line” ultimatum of some months earlier; and to show rogue regimes and the world that the United States...
11/04/2013
Here in Europe, one of the expectations that come with a university position is that one will apply for big-money research grants. This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because there genuinely is extra money on offer: if you want to run a complex collaborative project with postdoctoral researchers and extra PhD students, you can. It’s a curse because universities, which are (traditionally) almost all publicly funded and minimally endowed, are increasingly reliant on that extra income to keep afloat. As a result, there is pressure on the professors to bring in research money,...

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