2018 Goodwin Award Winners

Below are the citations for the winners of our 2018 Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit. Please join us in congratulating this year's winners.

Gil H. Renberg

Amy Richlin

Harriet I. Flower

Gil H. RenbergWhere Dreams May Come:  Incubation Sanctuaries in the Greco-Roman World.  Leiden:  Brill, 2017.

Sweet dreams, bad dreams, broken dreams, impossible dreams, dream jobs, dreams come true, dreamy dates, dream teams, the American dream, only in your dreams, dream on: dreams are among our most familiar experiences but wonderfully mysterious all the same. In modern times dreams tend to be something internal and personal, perhaps mere nonsense, perhaps an expression of wishes and fears conscious or unconscious. For classical peoples, dreams were something more, signs from outside, indeed an important channel for divine-human communication. And so incubation – sleeping in a place where dreams may come – was a multi-faceted practice throughout the ancient world from earliest times to late antiquity: a practice undertaken for therapy, for cures, for enlightenment, and for revelations.

Gil Renberg's Where Dreams May Come: Incubation Sanctuaries in the Greco-Roman World, in two ample volumes from Brill, is a dream come true for all students of ancient religion and healing: a systematic, exhaustive, beautifully organized, and highly readable exploration of incubation from the Mesopotamian, Anatolian, Greco-Roman, and Egyptian worlds, from the bronze age to late antiquity, masterfully assembling and analyzing a vast amount of data and testimony literary, epigraphical, and archaeological, all anchored to a full bibliography. Along the way Gil Renberg brings to life a great many details of the incubatory experience: who knew that Asclepius could send a snake to lick your ears to cure hearing loss? Or that mere water could play such a central and complex role? This work’s combination of systematic inventory and revelatory analysis reminds us that in classical studies, creative excellence manifests itself in a variety of ways.

Gil Renberg, who has spent many years on this project, emphatically stresses at the outset that a far-flung and generous scholarly community has made his work possible, thanking more than a hundred scholars for their helpfulness. His aim is not so much to solve all of the many issues that a century and more of incubation studies have raised as it is to clear the ground for future work by separating what is definitely known from what still needs to be learned, distinguishing also what can only be the object of speculative argument or the product of imagination. In the process, he brings to life an important aspect of ancient experience in the Greco-Roman and wider world, and also provides a model of meticulous, lucid, and generous scholarship for the present. Like all great works of scholarship, Where Dreams May Come has handsomely – even dreamily – set the table for all future work in this central and fascinating area of ancient religion and healing.

Amy RichlinSlave Theater in the Roman Republic:  Plautus and Popular Comedy.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2017.

All comedy starts with anger.  That leitmotif runs through the pages of Amy Richlin’s Slave Theater in the Roman Republic:  Plautus and Popular Comedy, Richlin’s summa, one might say, product of a distinguished career that began with a similar theme in The Garden of Priapus:  Sexuality and Aggression in Roman Humor thirty-five years ago, and that has ranged widely through explorations of subjects once left discreetly aside or veiled in the obscurity of a learned language. 

Now she rewrites the history and meaning of the fabula palliata, mastering, but not enslaved to, a long scholarly tradition, from Eduard Fraenkel to Sandra Joshel and Kathy Gaca.  But her reach is wide as well as deep, engaging recent and contemporary work in anthropology, folklore, and modern pop culture.  One very instructive and relevant footnote pursues the details of the Latin curriculum of Dulwich College in the student days of P.G. Wodehouse.  The book offers a paradigm of traditional philological scholarship at its very best, enriched by a broad view, a keen eye for the telling detail, and a passionate commitment to hearing and letting us hear the voices of the downtrodden. 

The story that unfolds is set in a beleaguered Italy, a land of constant warfare and mass enslavement.  We never forget that Plautus’ career unfolded during Hannibal’s years in Italy and we are challenged to keep in mind that the actors and spectators of these funny things that happened on the way to the forum included survivors of the carnage at Cannae.  The actors, the spectators, and the characters literally embodied the culture and horrors of the time.  Too often beaten, raped, and starved, they made of their experience occasions for laughter – for whatever little laughter can do to assuage or avenge or almost make sense of the effects of violence.

The stage – often not more than a wide spot in the road – set slaves and masters, prostitutes and pimps, in whirling motion.  The palliata gave the slave, the freed slave, and just the wretchedly impoverished free citizen a chance to act out the open secrets that possessed them, through double-entendre, irony, verbal duels, slapstick, role reversals and knowing asides to the audience – and a little song and dance.  This was their opportunity to speak shtick to power and and they do so with a will, giving us glimpses of their shimmering dreams of home and freedom.  We come away with a renewed sense of our good fortune in having these plays survive, disguised as classical literature, to enable Richlin to bring us closer to Roman lives that were marked by much sadness, much anger … and even much laughter. 

Harriet I. Flower, The Dancing Lares and the Serpent in the Garden: Religion at the Roman Street Corner. Princeton 2017

A dense and rich account of an understudied aspect of Roman religion, Harriet Flower’s The Dancing Lares and the Serpent in the Garden: Religion at the Roman Street Corner weaves together strands from complex and variegated sources into a coherent picture. The book opens with its own act of pietas: a striking photograph of the book’s distinguished dedicatee, standing nonchalantly before a surviving compitum, brings the Roman street-corner to life. Comparison of inscriptions, altars, and painting from Rome, Pompeii, and elsewhere on the Italian peninsula with literary works written by elites shows that lares, consistently gods of place, were worshipped differently depending on locale, but with an overall constancy that has escaped prior scholarship. Because those primarily responsible for the daily worship of the domestic gods of the hearth were often women or the master’s delegate and the vicomagistri of the lares compitalia were often freedmen, they fly below the radar of elite experience and hence the literary record. Reconstructing their history has required Flower to demonstrate expertise in material culture and to survey her subject across disparate and demanding fields.

The interpretation of most of her materials was controversial in antiquity and remains so now. Flower grabs the nettle. She is generous in taking her reader through her thought processes and fearless about advancing novel views. She bats away suggestions that the lares were spirits of the dead. Cult of Augustus’ genius at Rome? Flower answers a resounding “no.” Surely that’s Aeneas or perhaps Numa on the Ara pacis Augustae? Unlikely. She thinks a better candidate for the figure is Titus Tatius. Not all her conjectures will win assent, but she is intellectually forthcoming about making them and they raise the bar for future scholars, who will have to reexamine questions they thought were settled and argue for competing interpretations within a more capacious evidentiary frame.

Learned and confident, Flower offers a page-turner that sheds light on inaccessible aspects of Roman daily life with vividness and sympathy. Her intersecting paths of research culminate in her reassessment of the Augustan religious revival. By giving responsibility for local worship of the gods of the street corners to the lower classes of society, Augustus provides a vehicle through which they may share and invest, emotionally and financially, in his declaration of a new age of peace and prosperity. Scholars interested in Roman religion, in social history, and in the Augustan program will refer to this book for years.

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

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Recently, the SCS has focused attention on the importance on the variety of career paths pursued by those earning a Classics PhD. The Society has held a Career Networking event in 2018 and 2019 at its annual meeting, and will publish this summer a graduate student of edition of "Careers for Classicists", which will provide advice about seeking jobs inside and outside the academy. In recognition of the variety of types of employment open to Classics PhDs and in response to a request by an ad hoc group on graduate student issues, a precursor to the current Graduate Student Committee, the Career Planning and Development Committee has developed the following statement on the importance and value of many different careers. This statement has been endorsed by the SCS Board of Directors.   

Statement on Career Paths for those earning the PhD in Classical Studies

View full article. | Posted in Public Statements on Tue, 06/25/2019 - 9:20am by Erik Shell.

The Society for Classical Studies is proud to announce an upgrade to our Precollegiate Membership category.

In addition to enjoying all their current benefits, Precollegiate members will now enjoy full member benefits. These benefits include voting in SCS elections, serving on SCS boards and committees, and the opportunity to submit abstracts for the AIA/SCS annual meeting.

The annual dues for this membership will be $38 as of September 2019. Membership can be completed by joining online at scs.press.jhu.edu/membership.

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

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 06/25/2019 - 9:01am by Erik Shell.

The twenty-second biennial New College Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Studies will take place 12–14 March 2020 in Sarasota, Florida. The program committee invites 250-word abstracts of proposed twenty-minute papers on topics in European and Mediterranean history, literature, art, music and religion from the fourth to the seventeenth centuries. Interdisciplinary work is particularly appropriate to the conference’s broad historical and disciplinary scope. Planned sessions are also welcome. The deadline for all abstracts is 15 September 2019; please see the submission guidelines on the conference website.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 06/24/2019 - 10:02am by Erik Shell.

The Presence of Plotinus: The Self, Contemplation, and Spiritual Exercise in the Enneads

Poznań, Poland, 9th-10th June 2020

An international conference organized by the Scientific Committee on Ancient Culture of the Polish Academy of Sciences
and
the Department of Classical Studies of  Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań

Invited speakers:

Sara Ahbel-Rappe (University of Michigan)

John Bussanich (University of New Mexico)

Martin Laird (Villanova University)

Christian Tornau (Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg)

The subject

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Fri, 06/21/2019 - 9:21am by Erik Shell.

(Written by David T. West)

Grace Starry West (1946-2019)

Grace Starry West, 72, died of complications from lung cancer on Sunday, May 19 at her home. She was a member of the SCS since 1973, Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee in 1999, and trustee of the Vergilian Society from 1986-1989. Her name will be especially familiar to Vergilians on account of her groundbreaking UCLA dissertation on “Women in Vergil’s Aeneid” (1975), and to students and colleagues from the University of Dallas, where she helped Classics grow into an outstanding program with three tenured faculty members and a steady flow of majors. As John F. Miller, Professor of Classics at the University of Virginia, recently observed: “Her work on Virgilian women was pioneering; her leadership at Dallas admirable.”

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Fri, 06/21/2019 - 9:12am by Erik Shell.

'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, we look at the divide between classical archaeology and philology by speaking with archaeologists Sheira Cohen, Eric Kansa, Kristina Killgrove, James Newhard, and Alison Rittershaus

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 06/21/2019 - 7:55am by Sarah E. Bond.

The American Academy in Berlin invites applications for its residential fellowships for the academic year 2020/21.

The Academy seeks to enrich transatlantic dialogue in the arts, humanities, and public policy through the development and communication of projects of the highest scholarly merit. Past recipients include anthropologists, art historians, literary scholars, philosophers, historians, musicologists, journalists, writers of fiction and nonfiction, filmmakers, sociologists, legal scholars, economists, and public policy experts.

Approximately twenty Berlin Prizes are conferred annually. Fellowships are typically awarded for an academic semester, but shorter stays of six to eight weeks are also possible. Benefits include round-trip airfare, partial board, a $5,000 monthly stipend, and accommodations at the Academy’s lakeside Hans Arnhold Center, in the Wannsee district of Berlin. 

For 2020/21, the Academy will also award three specially designated fellowships: two Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships in the Humanities, for work that demonstrates an interest in the topics of migration and social integration, race in comparative perspective, or exile and return. In addition, in memory of its founder, the Academy will name a Richard C. Holbrooke Fellow for a project that looks at diplomatic approaches to resolving major global issues, from armed conflicts to environmental challenges to the impact of new technologies.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Fri, 06/14/2019 - 10:00am by Erik Shell.

Congratulations to Davina C. Lopez (Eckerd College) and Pamela Zinn (Texas Tech) for their 2019 ACLS Development Grants!

You can read the full list of 2019 recipients on the ACLS website.

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

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Thu, 06/13/2019 - 10:21am by Erik Shell.
The Sphinx of Naxos. Archaeological Museum of Delphi. Picture by Yoandy Cabrera

This month, we spotlight the graduate research of Dr. Yoandy Cabrera Ortega, who recently defended his dissertation on the portrayal of human emotions in ancient Greek myths and in modern literature from Spain and Latin America. 

My dissertation was an interdisciplinary one, intertwining different approaches and fields such as classical reception, queer studies, affect theory, and Hispanic studies.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 06/13/2019 - 8:46am by Yoandy Cabrera Ortega.

Can a computer understand the hendecasyllables of Catullus, the declamations of Seneca, or the letters of Pliny? Not yet, and maybe never in any conventional sense of this word. No one has succeeded so far in teaching a computer to comprehend language – that is, to reason about, generate, act upon and, importantly, communicate intentions through symbolic speech – let alone to appreciate texts written in a dead language with a sophisticated literary tradition. (Embodied cognitive science claims, in fact, that without a human body no computer can ever hope to achieve human understanding). But it is possible to represent the meanings of the Latin language in a way that can be manipulated and analysed by computers. The idea of training machines in these meanings forms the basis for the field of natural language understanding, which is a specialized kind of natural language processing (NLP) focused on modelling linguistic semantics.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 06/07/2019 - 6:48am by William M. Short.

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