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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Ancient Greek and Roman Painting and the Digital Humanities

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 12/14/2017 - 2:14pm by .

This article was originally published on the Amphora blog on January 6, 2016.

If you’re new to academic conferences, or to the joint annual meeting of the SCS/AIA, you may be thinking that the Exhibit Hall is mostly for buying books. And if you’re at the start of your career and/or on a modest budget, you may think that there’s nothing for you in the Exhibit Hall as a result.  Au contraire!  Here’s a short list of things you can do there—completely aside from buying books—that can be beneficial to your career, fun, interesting, worthwhile, and generally good things to do. The Exhibit Hall is generally open about nine hours a day for the two full days of the conference, plus a half day on either side, so there’s plenty of time to try these in small bits.  As a press exhibitor myself (full disclosure) I spend many hours in the hall, so I have a chance to see the variety of exhibitors who transport their materials or goods or information to the conference, often from international origins, in hopes they’ll have an opportunity to talk with you.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 12/11/2017 - 12:00am by Ellen Bauerle.

Boston University Graduate Student Conference

Identity Under Empire: Defining the Self under the Cultural Hegemony of the Athenian, Macedonian, and Roman Empires

Date of Conference: March 17, 2018

Keynote Speaker
Steven Smith
Hofstra University

The Department of Classical Studies at Boston University is excited to accept papers for its 10th annual Graduate Studies Conference. This year, the conference will examine the question of regional, national, personal, artistic, religious, and ethnic identity under the Athenian and Roman Empires as well as the empires of Philip II and Alexander the Great, and the subsequent Hellenistic Kingdoms. The cultural and political influence of any ancient empire has a far-reaching effect on the populace not only of founding city-states, but also that of the extending territories within its dominion. This conference intends to explore how ancient peoples – citizens and non-citizens, male and female alike – negotiated the multifarious problem of identity within the complexity of a unified yet multicultural empire. We enthusiastically welcome submissions from any and all fields of the humanities covering material, textual, or other sources.

Possible paper topics might include, but are not limited to:

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 12/07/2017 - 1:21pm by .

The University of Texas at Austin

Joint Classics Philosophy Graduate Program in Ancient Philosophy

Gregory Vlastos Archive: Research Possibilities 2017-2018

The large collection of papers from the Nachlass of Gregory Vlastos (1907-1991) is available for study at The University of Texas at Austin, in its Harry Ransom Center—one of the world's major and renowned repositories of manuscripts, rare books, and other materials in the fine arts and the humanities. The Vlastos Archive comprises published and unpublished studies, lecture notes for classes, research notes, books and offprints with annotations, and extensive files of correspondence. Under the auspices of the Joint Classics-Philosophy Graduate Program in Ancient Philosophy at UT Austin, a fund has been established for awards for travel expenses to scholars who are interested in conducting research at the Vlastos Archive.  Applications for these awards may be submitted at any time, provided the yearly allowance of funds has not been exhausted. Interested scholars should contact the Director of the Joint Program, Professor Matthew L. Evans, The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Philosophy, 2210 Speedway, Mail Code C3500, Austin, TX 78712, or via e-mail, evansmatt@utexas.edu

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Thu, 12/07/2017 - 1:09pm by .
The Philosophy Department at Stanford University invites you to attend a two-day conference on Aristotle's Politics in Stanford, California on March 9-10 in Building 60, Room 109. Please register for the conference at http://tinyurl.com/yc48ecd8. Papers will be pre-circulated once available. 
 
Speakers:

Pierre Destrée
Associate Research Professor, Department of Philosophy, FNRS/University of Louvain

Terence Irwin
Faculty of Philosophy, Radcliffe Humanities, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Oxford University

Mariska Leunissen
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, UNC Chapel Hill

Thornton C. Lockwood
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy and Political Science, Quinnipiac University

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Thu, 12/07/2017 - 12:53pm by .

Early on Saturday morning, the US Senate passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Given that the House passed its version of the tax bill on November 16, the House and Senate will now choose members for a conference committee to reconcile the two versions of the bill. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:12am by Helen Cullyer.
Marble left hand holding a scroll

Co-authored with Richard J. Tarrant.

Editor’s note: The guidelines under review here, while publicly available for comment, represent a pre-release version.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:00am by Donald J. Mastronarde.

Dear Attendees:

The 2018 SCS-AIA Meeting in Boston is just a month away! The Program Committee has worked hard to put together a rewarding and stimulating meeting and, as Vice President for Programs, I am particularly pleased by the growing number of panels – some 18 were accepted for the Boston meeting, an increase by three over last year. I want now to call your attention to a few of the exciting events that are planned.

President S. Georgia Nugent will focus attention on the “The PhD Today: This Is Your Brain on Classics.” Her presidential panel on Friday, January 5, from 5-6 pm brings together three graduates of Classics PhD programs who have elected career paths in law, technology, and secondary school teaching. They will discuss why and how they transitioned from the traditional expectation of a career in college teaching, as well as how their graduate study in classics affects their lives today. In her presidential address on Friday, January 5, from 6-7 pm, entitled “Chiron Meets Charon: On Crossing Over to the Dark Side,” president Nugent will reflect on the transition from professoriate to presidency and the invaluable lessons that study of the classics provides. This address will take place during the Plenary Session, at which SCS awards will be presented.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Tue, 11/28/2017 - 11:31am by Erik Shell.
The Society for Classical Studies has signed on to a statement urging Congress to reject the proposed tax on graduate student tuition waivers.
 
You can read the full statement and list of signatories here:
 
 
 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 11/28/2017 - 8:52am by Erik Shell.
Mosaic depicting theatrical masks of Tragedy and Comedy

Co-authored with T.H.M Gellar-Goad.

Ancient comedy was a thoroughly performative genre, meant to be seen and heard, not read. This point should be obvious, but it can easily get lost in a traditional college or university course on comedy in translation, given the textual nature of the transmission of comedies, their distance in time and culture, the difficulties presented by translated material, and the demands and traditions of teaching Greek and Roman literature generally. In this post I describe a comedy-in-performance assignment that T.H.M Gellar-Goad and I created and have used in teaching general-education courses at two different American universities. One of us employed it in lieu of the usual final exam and term paper; the other was bound by writing seminar standards to include a term paper in addition to the performance project. The basic idea is flexible enough to fit drama of any period or genre, and could be used in various levels and types of courses (not, admittedly, massive lecture courses), for teaching in the original languages, and for inclusion as a smaller unit within a larger course. Neither of us had prior experience acting or directing.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 11/27/2017 - 12:43pm by Serena S Witzke.

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