2017 C.J. Goodwin Award of Merit

The C.J. Goodwin Award of Merit Committee has selected three winners of this year's Goodwin Award.  All three will be honored at the Plenary Session at the Boston Annual Meeting.  You can click on the names below to read the full citations.

James I. PorterThe Sublime in Antiquity, Cambridge University Press, 2016

Amy RussellThe Politics of Public Space in Republican Rome, Cambridge University Press, 2015

Peter T. StruckDivination and Human Nature: A Cognitive History of Intuition in Classical Antiquity, Princeton University Press, 2016

James Porter

James Porter's The Sublime in Antiquity is a critical tour-de-force and at the same time a rich and open-ended source-book that will delight readers interested in how the Greeks and Romans described and analyzed the experience of being struck, captivated, even overwhelmed by an act of hearing, viewing, or reading – an experience surely familiar to all lovers of Classical literature and art.

The notion of “the sublime” and of a special category of awe-inspiring, transcendent and almost inexpressible greatness, whether encountered in the natural world (mountains, oceans, storms, a divine presence…) or in various forms of artistic production, has been a key element in Western aesthetics at least since the 18th century.  Critics such as Edmund Burke, Immanuel Kant, and G. W. F. Hegel have been followed by innumerable philosophers and historians of aesthetics, almost all of whom have traced the origin of this notion back to the unknown author (traditionally referred to as “Longinus”) who composed a remarkable rhetorical treatise entitled Peri Hypsous (or in Latin, De Sublimitate), some time between ca. 50 and 300 CE.  Longinus’ treatise is thus almost universally regarded as constituting a major break-through in aesthetic thought that really stands alone in Classical antiquity.  (M. H. Abrams, for example, in The Mirror and the Lamp, famously zeroed-in on the contrast between “Classical” poetics, as represented by Aristotle and the mainstream, and “Romantic” sensibilities, as adumbrated by Longinus.)  James Porter, in his immensely erudite and wide-ranging new book, overturns this standardized history of criticism and offers a new and fascinating account of the multiple ways in which “sublime, wonderful, stupendous” experiences and compositions were recognized and described by a wide range of authors before and after Longinus – from Homer and Pindar, to Empedocles and Lucretius, and even such drily analytical critics as Aristotle and Dionysius of Halicarnassus.  Porter’s extensively documented study, exploring numerous poetical and philosophical passages in close detail, makes it clear that Longinus’ treatise in fact comes in the middle, not at the beginning, of such discussions, distinguished more by its style and choice of particular examples than by its conceptual originality.  As Porter observes, “The sublime pervades much of antiquity; it has simply been hiding in the light.”

Porter’s book is not simply a negative achievement, however, in its re-positioning of Longinus within literary and aesthetic history. Along with its stimulating and important argument about the “tradition of the sublime” as a concept and an affective experience, the book provides a wonderful assemblage of particular close readings and analyses of individual texts, making new connections both within antiquity itself and between ancient and modern authors.  Porter explores such stylistic strategies and dichotomies as simplicity vs variety, the power of the kairos and of ekplêxis, and the “logic of excess,” showing how all of these techniques involve an “art of the emotions” in which, as both rhetoricians and philosophers implicitly agreed, artistic skill and organizational power, whether human or divine, lie at the heart of the sublime effect. This book will immediately become required reading for anyone seriously studying ancient stylistics, rhetorical theory, and the history of aesthetics.  

Amy Russell

The semantic range of public and private in Latin, and the degree to which it overlaps with and challenges our own concepts, has been a fruitful topic in recent research.  In terms of the built environment, stimulating scholarship has shown how public concerns such as aristocratic display infuse the private sphere of Rome down to the layout of the Roman house.  In The Politics of Public Space in Republican Rome (Cambridge 2016), Amy Russell flips our perspective by revealing the complexity of Republican Rome’s public sphere, tracing the fraught, entangled relationship between private and public in the variegated  histories of the Forum Romanum, the Capitoline, and Pompey’s temple, theater and portico complex on the Campus Martius.  In doing so, she tells an entirely fresh, 3D story of the contradictions and paradoxes of later Roman Republican political history through competing efforts to control, delineate, frame, or co-opt public space and through different groups’ diverse experiences and interpretations of public space.  Russell allows us to see fully how incomprehensible the Romans would have found modern presuppositions about institutional agency.

Russell delves into textual sources with fine-tuned interpretive skills, into the archaeological record with a sharp eye for detail, and with discerning judgement into theoretical literature on the spatial turn, behavioral methodology, and hotly debated questions of the shape of Roman Republican politics; she highlights the peculiarity of Roman Republican configurations of the public not just in theory, but in everyday experience: on the streets, in temples, and in the staged environment of the Forum Romanum.  The spatial configurations of the later Republican Forum Romanum, for example, tell multiple, competing stories of differentiated roles and perspectives, and of efforts to control and their limits.  Speakers on the Rostra towered over the Comitium, the monumentalized assembly-place of citizens, while the Curia constrained it. But tight choreography invites disruption, so that a tribune standing on the Rostra could turn his back on the Comitium and Curia and invoke a new vision of the Roman populus occupying the open space of the Forum proper.

It was the “ideology of publicity” (in Fergus Millar’s words), the necessity for Republican political actors and actions to have public witnesses and endorsers, that ramped up aspirations to control, claim and corner the Roman people and the public sphere itself.  Russell’s compelling tableaux “show the consequent interpenetration of private and public and illuminate their confrontations.”  Basilicas built with public funds nevertheless monumentalized their patrons, and actively shaped the experience of the public that enjoyed them, their architecture and very name invoking the palaces of Hellenistic kings. Temple complexes might incorporate individual family tombs, or their decoration might speak the quintessentially private, even regal language of leisure. If, for us, “the personal is political,” Russell argues convincingly that the political and the public become ever more personal in the last decades of the Republic until, once Augustus eclipses the state, it becomes impossible to see any light between them.

Peter Struck

Ancient divination is regularly dismissed by moderns as a species of fake knowledge.  Some of the rhetorical moves in that dismissal are borrowed from Cicero and other ancients, but the dismissal itself is peremptory, often smug.  Peter Struck’s subtle and ambitious exploration of the subject begins with the recognition that for those who used and respected mantic practices, divination successfully offered a means of acquiring knowledge that was real and functional.  For the practitioner or observer, the critiques of a few were immaterial and irrelevant.

With a careful exploration of the history of thinking about divination among the philosophers, Struck mediates between ancient and contemporary observers to create a way of interpreting divination that escapes both credulity and dismissiveness.  In Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics he traces a history of argument that is serious and credible and respectful of the real experience of their contemporaries.  Faced with knowledge of evident usefulness, knowledge that did not differentiate itself clearly in their eyes from that acquired by what we would regard as true scientific means, the subtlest ancient thinkers provided a rationale that did justice to experience.  Struck traces his story then to the neo-Platonists and in particular Iamblichus who, working in and faithful to the traditions he inherited, nevertheless introduced distinctions that would begin to define and harden the lines separating real from fake, human (and eventually scientific) from divine. 

Struck’s theoretical exposition of ‘surplus knowledge’ and the analogy to modern understandings of intuition familiarize the unfamiliar and make divination more accessible.  As a result, Struck shows we know more than the ancients did … and less.  His erudition, patient argument, and lucid explanation enrich our sense of the ancient past as indeed a foreign country, but one that we can imagine inhabiting.

Citations by the Goodwin Award Committee members, Mark Griffith, Sheila Murnaghan, Emma Dench, Michele Lowrie, and James J. O'Donnell.

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(Photo: "library" by Viva Vivanista, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

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The new Classics Everywhere initiative, launched by the SCS in 2019, supports projects that seek to engage communities all over the US and Canada with the worlds of Greek and Roman antiquity in new and meaningful ways. As part of this initiative the SCS has been funding a variety of projects ranging from after-school enrichment programs to collaborations with artists in theater and dance. In this post, we focus on four projects that engaged new audiences by allowing them to explore what it was like to do and think as the Greeks and Romans did.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 08/22/2019 - 10:54pm by Mallory Monaco Caterine.
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August, 2019

Below is a list of the most recent NEH grantees and their Classically-themed projects. The NEH helps fund a number of SCS initiatives, and their support affects the field of Classics at a national and local level.

Grantees

  • Gregory Crane (Tufts College) - "Beyond Translation: New Possibilities for Reading in a Digital Age"
  • Matthew Panciera (Gustavus Adolphus College) - "Roman Daily Life in Petronius and Pompeii"
  • Sturt Manning (Cornell University) - "Medieval Monuments and Wooden Cultural Heritage on Cyprus: Building History with Tree-Rings"
  • Elise Friedland (George Washington University) - "Classical Washington: Greece and Rome in the Art and Architecture of D.C."
  • David Konstan (New York University) - "The Legends of Barbara and Katherine in the Greek Tradition (4th - 10th Centuries)"
  • Elizabeth Samet (United States Military Academy) - "The Nine Lives of Alexander the Great"
  • Jose Bermudez (Texas A&M University, College Station) - "Reconsidering the Sources of the Self in the Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Periods"

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View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Thu, 08/22/2019 - 1:15pm by Erik Shell.

Many thanks to Bill Beck for his SCS blog post on funding opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, teachers and aspiring teachers. In September, look out for more resources on funding, specifically on funding offered by North American institutions to students enrolled in their MA / PhD programs and terminal MA / MAT programs. This forthcoming resource has been a summer project of the SCS office and our summer interns.

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(Photo: "_DSC7061" by rhodesj, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 08/19/2019 - 10:20am by Helen Cullyer.

Below is an annotated list of funding opportunities for undergraduate students, graduate students, and current and aspiring teachers of classical philology, ancient history, and classical archaeology. This post is divided into three parts, corresponding to the different target populations, originally discussed separately here, here, and here. The first part is relevant to undergraduate students; the second part concerns funding opportunities for graduate students; the final section is of interest to current and aspiring teachers of classics.

I. Funding Opportunities for Undergraduates

Funding opportunities for undergraduates are organized into two categories: (1) funding for undergraduate study and (2) funding for current undergraduate students who intend to pursue graduate study.

Funding for Undergraduate Study

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 08/19/2019 - 6:01am by Bill Beck.

I bought an old book the other day. 

Used to be, that wouldn’t have been the lede for any writing designed to grab your attention, but as pastimes go, it’s getting a bit less common, so maybe it will do. 

It’s not just that old books have been crowded into a corner of the market for attention by media unimagined only yesterday, but that there are natural cycles that have also been disrupted.  When I was young, we haunted second-hand bookshops and the like because we needed books––good books––ones that had been printed before we were born and long since gone out of print.  Now we’re rich:  everything seems to stay in print forever.  I used to snap up $2 hardcover copies of Henry James novels on the assumption that someday I’d read them.  Now I wonder what I would do with a tired old hardcover when I can count on crisp new paperbacks being deliverable to my door by Amazon in 24 hours any time I want one or e-versions to my iPad in seconds.  In the 1980s, when I wanted a decent copy of Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson of my own to reread, I spent a month searching for one I could purchase––in Philadelphia no less.  My Henry James anxiety only dissipated during the glory years of bookstore superstores. 

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 08/15/2019 - 8:56pm by James J. O'Donnell.

Williams Sanders Scarborough, an 1875 graduate of Oberlin College, was a pioneering African American scholar who wrote a university-level Greek textbook. Kirk Ormand, who now teaches at Oberlin, interviewed Prof. Michele Ronnick, who has recently published a facsimile edition of Scarborough’s Greek textbook, First Lessons in Greek (1881), with Bolchazy-Carducci press. Prof. Ronnick is the world’s leading expert on Scarborough. She found, edited, and published Scarborough’s autobiography in 2005, and has researched Scarborough’s time at Oberlin and as President of Wilberforce University.[1]  

Kirk Ormand: You are publishing a facsimile edition of William Sanders Scarborough’s First Lessons in Greek.Tell us a bit about why Scarborough’s book is important to the history of the profession.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 08/08/2019 - 9:01pm by Michele Valerie Ronnick.

Generic Interplay in and after Vergil

Symposium Cumanum 2020

Villa Vergiliana, Cuma

June 24–26, 2020

Co-directors: Brittney Szempruch (United States Air Force Academy) and John F. Miller (University of Virginia)

Although Vergil famously opens the Aeneid with a definitive statement of poetic intent—arma virumque cano—scholarship has long highlighted the poet’s propensity for the complication of firm generic boundaries. Amid a range of theoretical responses that have shaped the past nearly one hundred years (Kroll 1924; Cairns 1972; Fowler 1982; Conte 1986; Harrison 2007), the Vergilian corpus has emerged as some of the most productive ground for the in-depth study of generic flexibility (e.g. Nelis 2004; Seider 2016).

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 08/07/2019 - 10:12am by Erik Shell.

The Fragment (Research Institute)

The 2020/2021 academic year at the Getty Research Institute will be devoted to the fragment. Issues regarding the fragment have been present since the beginning of art history and archaeology. Many objects of study survive in physically fragmented forms, and any object, artwork, or structure may be conceived of as a fragment of a broader cultural context. As such, fragments catalyze the investigative process of scholarship and the fundamental acts of the historian: conservation, reconstruction, and interpretation. The evolution of an object—its material and semiotic changes across time, space, and cultures—can offer insights into the ethics and technologies of restoration, tastes for incompleteness or completeness, politics of collection and display, and production of art historical knowledge.

While the fragment has been described as the central metaphor of modernity and the paradigmatic sign of a contemporary worldview, its history as a trope runs much deeper. Cultures of the fragment have flourished throughout history under such guises as the reuse of architectural parts and the cult of relics, the physical and conceptual image-breakings of iconoclasm, and the aesthetics of repair. Fragmentation can occur through artistic processes, acts of destruction, or forces of nature. It can be willful, accidental, or inevitable, but it is necessarily transformative.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Wed, 08/07/2019 - 9:55am by Erik Shell.

The SCS Committee on the Awards for Excellence in the Teaching of Classics at the College Level has revised the guidelines for award nomination. One to three awards for excellence in the teaching of Classics will be given to college and university teachers from the United States and Canada. Thanks to a very generous gift to the Society’s Gatekeeper to Gateway Campaign for the Future of Classics from Daniel and Joanna Rose each winner will receive a certificate of award and a cash prize of $500. In addition, each winner’s institution will receive $200 to purchase educational resources selected by the winner. The awards will be presented at the Plenary Session of the Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., in January 2020.

New nomination process for 2019: In order to simplify the nomination process, increase the number of nominations, and encourage the submission of comparable information for each candidate, a new nomination process is being piloted for 2019 (see below). Feedback on changes is welcome and may be sent to the Executive Director.

For more information about the award, you can visit the page here: https://classicalstudies.org/awards-and-fellowships/awards-excellence-teaching-classics-college-level-0

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View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 08/02/2019 - 1:02pm by Erik Shell.
Header Image: Late antique mosaic likely depicting Theseus sailing away from the Labyrinth (Utica, Tunisia, 3rd C CE, now at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Image by Sarah E. Bond).

'Addressing the Divide' is a new series of columns that looks at the ways in which the modern field of Classics was constructed and then explores ways to identify, modify, or simply abolish the lines between fields in order to embrace broader ideas of what Classics was, is, and could be. This month, Kathryn Topper addresses the divisions between Art History and Classics.

For specialists in Greek and Roman art, professional life is an endless navigation of disciplinary divides. Often it seems like we belong to a disciplinary no man’s land – too archaeological for other art historians, too art historical for field archaeologists, and too visual for text-oriented Classicists whose training has predisposed them to doubt the intellectual seriousness of scholars who study something as seemingly straightforward as pictures.

The uneasy position of ancient art historians relative to the allied disciplines arises from historical factors, but it’s also a consequence of the nature of our material. When you work in a field in which reconstruction and interpretation almost invariably go hand in hand, you tend to need all the tools in your own toolbox, and in the neighbors’ toolboxes, too. As a result, historians of ancient art spend a lot of time working in disciplines dominated by colleagues whose priorities and training are very different from our own.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 08/01/2019 - 9:09pm by Kathryn Topper.

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