2019 Goodwin Award Winners

Below are the citations for the three winners of our 2019 Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit. Please join us in congratulating this year's winners and in thanking the Goodwin Committee members for their hard work.

Andrew C. Johnston

Josephine Quinn

Francesa Schironi

Andrew C. Johnston, The Sons of Remus: Identity in Roman Gaul and Spain. Harvard University Press, 2017

The story of the Roman Empire, much like the story of the American West, has long emphasized assimilation and Romanization: parcere subiectis et debellare superbos. Presumably discarded were the local identities and indigenous traditions that no longer defined or empowered the provincials. Unlike the cities of the Greek East, with their indigenous and hyper-literate insistence on their own distinctive identities, past and present, the Roman West has been thought to be a virtual tabula rasa, on which Romanness was inscribed with little difficulty. 

In The Sons of Remus: Identity in Roman Gaul and Spain, Andrew C. Johnston goes west to two major provinces in search of their local experiences, memories, and discourses, and paints a strikingly different picture. Alongside the “grandsons” of Romulus, Romuli nepotes, as Catullus dubbed the Romans of his age, and far from the imperial center, lived the provincial sons of Remus, who asserted and enacted their indigenous identities even as they adopted Roman customs and recognized imperial authority. Johnston compellingly argues for the persistent diversity of local communities and the role played by local character, creatively curated, in their sense of identity and belonging. A variety of fascinating case studies reveal how the provincials of the Roman West represented their own communities; how they defined themselves as they interacted and competed with other communities, sometimes violently; the importance of both the Roman past and the pre-Roman past in negotiating and maintaining a community’s sense of self; and the provincial performance of identity in and through their local governing structures, rituals, myths, and culture. Marshalled for investigation is an extraordinarily rich spectrum of evidence literary, artistic, archaeological, and epigraphic, much of it recent, like an inscription from Palma in the Balearic Islands attesting a local lupercus who seems not, or not merely, to be a delegate to the Roman Lupercalia (a foundation festival that seemingly makes sense only at the Palatine Lupercal in Rome), but a priest responsible for some kind of vibrant local celebration in his home community.

Andrew Johnston’s trip west reveals that the Roman Empire was not only very big but also very diverse, and his The Sons of Remus provides a firm foundation for future research in what is obviously a rich and important field, with timely resonance in our own era of globalism, resurgent nationalism, and the assertion of local identity and indigenous integrity in the face of hegemonic agency.

Josephine QuinnIn Search of the Phoenicians. Princeton University Press, 2018

Today we think we know who the Phoenicians were. Credited with a range of cultural firsts, from the alphabet to civilization itself, indeed “from the pole star to the Cornish cream tea,” the world would simply not be the same without them. But do we really know who they were? Josephine Quinn’s In Search of the Phoenicians offers a surprising answer: we do not; check the evidence itself. Understood as a singular, self-defining ethnic group, their shared identity manifest in language, in forms of government, and in a set of cultural practices, “the Phoenicians” appear in the historical record of other peoples only, from Homer to the present. Their ethnic and cultural label was not their own, but was awarded to them by others.

The thesis is startling, and its consequences mind-boggling. If we remove the label, the Phoenicians cease to enjoy an independent existence. Did they even have a sense of shared identity? Or were they no more than a phantom product of the West? They may be a historical mirage, but that is only the beginning of Quinn’s remarkable story. Early Greek literature filled out the seascape with a not-us group of Phoenicians, whose very name tellingly derives from the Greek language. From the late fifth century, the Carthaginians, progressively confident in their territorial empire, claimed this suitably sweeping identity for themselves. The distinctive cultural politics of the Hellenistic kingdoms and the Roman Empire further encouraged the search for a common past and history that rivaled those of competing superpowers. In the imperial competitions of premodern and modern Europe, Carthage’s long status as an anti-Rome encouraged multiple self-identifications as Phoenicians. In short, the Phoenicians emerge not merely as an “invented” people, but as a multiply reinvented one. Quinn is equally compelling on the shifting dynamics of self-identification amongst “Phoenicians”. In the areas conventionally associated with the “Phoenicians”, the reference point for locating selves is frequently family or local community, as is the default throughout the ancient Mediterranean.  Sometimes, however, we also find small clusters (e.g. the “circle of the Tophet”), and larger opt-in networks (e.g. participants in the Melqart cult).  

To pursue these questions about identity, In Search of the Phoenicians takes its readers on an epic journey from the tenth century BCE to the 20th CE, from Lebanon to Ireland, from the Hebrew Bible to Heliodorus, John Milton and James Joyce, from bilingual epitaphs to Anthony D. Smith on nation-building, and from western Mediterranean Tophets to Stonehenge. The fruit of these travels is a new genealogy of an invented people, the Phoenicians. With its deep appreciation for the multiple agencies and perspectives, geographies and networks of the Mediterranean and Near East, and for the two thousand years of subsequent entanglement of ancient and modern cultural and political wars, Quinn’s outstanding book exemplifies the breadth and depth of Classics in the 21st century. Above all, it articulates a methodological template for examining nations, cultures, and ethnicities in the ancient world and in their long, productive afterlives. Quinn’s work will oblige scholars to rethink their assumptions about what it means to be a “people” of any kind, including those who are known today as “Greeks” and “Romans.”

Francesca Schironi, The Best of the Grammarians: Aristarchus of Samothrace on the Iliad. University of Michigan Press, 2018 

The Best of the Grammarians: Aristarchus of Samothrace on the Iliad is a monumental study that is unlikely to be surpassed for generations to come. Indeed, Schironi’s only true rival is Arthur Ludwich’s work in two volumes from 1884-85, Aristarchs homerische Kritik. Weighing in at over 900 pages of densely argued text, and seemingly exhaustive in its canvasing of the relevant issues and available evidence, including some 4,300 pertinent scholia, The Best of the Grammarians is a massive reconstruction of the methods, techniques, and principles that guided Aristarchus’ study of the Iliad as he went about analyzing and emending the Homeric text.

The results are at once theoretical and pragmatic, not least because Aristarchus’ theory is embedded in the way he practiced his criticism of Homer. Schironi’s own study models this “practice of theory” approach. It begins with such basic questions as, How did Aristarchus read Homer? How did he discriminate among his sources? What were his touchstones in the Homeric text? He made use of paraphrase, like most of his contemporaries. He advocated reading aloud and was alert to poetic and rhetorical figures, including metaphor, allegory, and irony. He analyzed Homeric vocabulary, and he identified characters, customs, and places in the epic as well as its cosmology. He sought to discover etymologies, and he made use of analogy to solve linguistic puzzles. He was also prepared to judge the aesthetic quality of Homer’s poems, drawing on Aristotle’s Poetics and Rhetoric for his critical categories. Aristarchus was aware of the formulaic nature of epic verse and the use of epithets, and he had a subtle appreciation of Homer’s narrative style. When he athetized a line, it was for good reasons, such as internal contradiction.

While Schironi recognizes that Aristarchus’ studies had inevitable limitations and were not infrequently grounded in circular reasoning, she concludes that his procedures were motivated by a noble commitment to Homer’s unsurpassed greatness as a poet, his deep self-consistency, and his sole authorship of the two epics—principles that were not universally accepted in antiquity any more than they are today. She sets out these points and many others with consummate learning, clarity, and elegance. And while the book lends itself to use as a reference work, it is much more than that. After working their way through her study, readers will come to regard Aristarchus as a friend and fellow critic with whom one can carry on stimulating mental conversations even today. Francesca Schironi has brought Aristarchus to life, and thanks to her efforts, we can all be better acquainted with the best of the ancient grammarians.

Citations by the Goodwin Award Committee: 

Emma Dench

Jeffrey Henderson

Carolyn Dewald

James I. Porter

David Konstan

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

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Body and Medicine in Latin Poetry’, which will take place online on the 17th and 18th September 2020. 

The ongoing epidemic crisis brought forth by the spread of Covid-19 compels us to rethink the concepts of body and disease in light of  their effect on human nature, as well as seek new methods to cope with the sense of anxiety and vulnerability generated by such pandemic diseases. 

This conference will navigate the relationship between Medical Science and Humanities in Antiquity, with papers exploring how medicine can be integrated into poetry and how poetry, in turn, can propagate medical knowledge across various social classes and cultural contexts. Further to that, the conference will explore the extent to which such a relationship reflects our individual concerns about the validity and consistence of medicine as a science of the Human.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Mon, 07/06/2020 - 5:57am by Erik Shell.

Finishing my third trimester in the midst of a pandemic was not what I had planned for the last months of pregnancy. Since the Ides of March, we have sequestered ourselves in our house in Iowa City and cancelled any and all social gatherings––including the planned baby shower––as has almost everyone else across the globe. Although I lamented not being able to celebrate with family and friends in person, every day it seemed, small book-shaped cardboard boxes began to populate the front stoop. Their opening revealed that our academic friends had sent us their favorite books in hopes that reading to our little one might bring comfort, amusement, and maybe a little sleep into our lives. As her library began to grow with the reading selections of our fellow classicists, archaeologists, and university librarians, the broad selection of children’s books focused on the ancient Mediterranean became apparent.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 07/03/2020 - 9:28am by Sarah E. Bond.

The new Classics Everywhere initiative, launched by the SCS in 2019, supports projects that seek to engage communities worldwide with the study 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 reading groups comparing ancient to modern leadership practices to collaborations with artists in theater, music, and dance. This post centers on projects that promote emotional well-being and use Greek texts to facilitate conversations on current social justice issues, from New York to Chicago and San Francisco.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 06/26/2020 - 7:31am by .

Dear members (and past Annual Meeting participants),

After extensive research and discussion, AIA and SCS staff and officers have decided that the January 2021 Joint Annual Meeting scheduled to take place from January 7-10 in Chicago will now be a virtual event. We know that many of you were looking forward to attending paper sessions and other events, to seeing old friends and colleagues, and to making new connections and we recognize that a virtual event cannot substitute in many ways for a face-to-face experience. However, after full consideration of the public health risks and significant impact of COVID-19 on the ability of most of you to travel to and participate in a large conference in the upcoming months, AIA and SCS have decided that a virtual event is the most prudent course.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 06/25/2020 - 7:13am by Helen Cullyer.

In 2018, a group of scholars founded Mountaintop Coalition, an SCS-affiliated group with a shared interest in advancing the professional goals of Classicists who identify as members of ethnic groups traditionally underrepresented in the field. Mountaintop’s activities focus on practical issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in professional settings.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 06/19/2020 - 8:30am by Samuel Ortencio Flores.

Froma I. Zeitlin retired from Princeton University in 2010, where she was the Charles Ewing Professor of Greek Language and Literature in the Department of Classics and Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature. Dr. Zeitlin received her B.A. from Radcliffe-Harvard in 1954 and her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1970. She is a specialist in Greek literature from Homer to late antiquity, with particular interests in epic, drama and prose fiction. Her publications include Under the Sign of the Shield: Semiotics and Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes (1982; 2d ed.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 06/12/2020 - 8:50am by Claire Catenaccio.

Alexander G. McKay Prize competition for the best new book in Vergilian studies is now open

The Vergilian Society is pleased to announce the opening of the next competition for the Alexander G. McKay Prize for the best book in Vergilian studies. The prize, which is accompanied by a cash award of $500 or a life membership in the Vergilian Society (valued at $800), is awarded every other year to the book that, in the opinion of the prize evaluation committee, makes the greatest contribution toward our understanding and appreciation of Vergil or topics related to Vergil. Works of literary criticism, biography, bibliography, textual criticism, reference, history, archaeology, and the classical tradition are all eligible, provided that Vergilian studies represent a significant portion of the discussion. The current competition will cover books published during the years 2018 and 2019. The winner will be announced at the Vergilian Society session at the annual meeting of the Society for Classical Studies in Chicago in January 2021. The authors of books being considered for the McKay Prize must be members of the Vergilian Society at the time their books are submitted; for new members or to renew memberships see https://www.vergiliansociety.org/memberships-and-donations.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Tue, 06/09/2020 - 6:54am by Erik Shell.

A longstanding tendency to ethnocentrism and Hellenophilia implicit in the narrative of the rebirth of Greek science in the Renaissance has shaped the historiography of science and early modern historiography more generally. However, a digital project called Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus (PAL) presents and interdisciplinary, broadly conceived, and ongoing (2013–2038) challenge to this , which lies at the crossroads of Classics, Arabic Studies, History of Science and Digital Humanities. It presents a wide range of primary sources as well as translations and critical editions. Given these unusual features some words of introduction are needed to better understand the relevance of this project for the humanities at large. 

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 06/05/2020 - 12:21pm by .

From the SCS Board of Directors, approved 6/3/20

The Society for Classical Studies condemns the relentless horror of police brutality and murder of black men, women, and children, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Rekia Boyd, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Rodney King, to name just a few of the victims. Brutality perpetrated by the police and others stands with mass incarceration and unequal access to healthcare, education, and housing as symptoms of longstanding systemic, structural, and institutional racism in American and European cultures. These are deep problems in society that will not be fixed without radical policy changes at every level of government and across all institutions.   

View full article. | Posted in Public Statements on Wed, 06/03/2020 - 6:20am by Helen Cullyer.

The new Classics Everywhere initiative, launched by the SCS in 2019, supports projects that seek to engage communities worldwide with the study 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 reading groups comparing ancient to modern leadership practices to collaborations with artists in theater, music, and dance. In this post we focus on digital projects that engage with ancient texts and discuss the study of Classics during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/29/2020 - 7:55am by .

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