2021 Goodwin Awards of Merit

The members of the Committee on the C. J. Goodwin Award of Merit are delighted to announce that the 2021 winners of the Goodwin Awards are Aileen R. Das (University of Michigan), Ellen Oliensis (University of California Berkeley), and Andreas Willi (University of Oxford).

Please click on the names below to read the full award citations written by committee members David Konstan and James I. Porter (co-chairs), Harriet Flower, Richard Hunter, and Amy Richlin.

Aileen R. Das

Ellen Oliensis

Andreas Willi

Citation for Aileen R. Das, Galen and the Arabic Reception of Plato’s Timaeus, Cambridge University Press, 2020

It may be hard for us to imagine that medicine might have an inferiority complex with respect to philosophy. In classical antiquity, however, doctors understandably prided themselves on the status of their discipline as a technical skill (technē); this was a tribute to their claims to specialized knowledge and its practical applications—its capacity to improve lives. But in doing so, the physicians left their craft open to comparison with other, often humbler technai, such as carpentry or the smith’s trade, which lacked the higher rigor of true science (epistēmē). As the most prolific medical authority since Hippocrates, Galen was not content to see his profession demeaned in this way, and he endeavored to elevate it as a theoretical system that could enhance the understanding of the cosmos on a par with classical metaphysics. To sustain his pretensions, Galen turned to Plato’s Timaeus, in some ways an odd choice, since Plato was a clear defender of philosophy’s superiority to any empirical study of the organic body, but also a natural choice, since the Timaeus offers an account of the cosmic body. As a result of Galen’s attention, the Timaeus in later antiquity into the medieval period became what Das terms “a universal text.” Galen’s understanding of Plato became a flash point in the reception of both the Timaeus and his own writings.

Galen’s authority was felt, above all, in the Arabic-speaking world. In Iraq, the great ninth-century translator Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq appealed to Galen to lend authority to his own specialty, ophthalmology, which he situated at the juncture of the human body and cosmology. A century on in Iran, the Muslim doctor Abū Bakr al-Rāzī took Galen to task for playing down God’s role in the cosmos, and so sought to Platonize Galen and to Galenize Plato by erecting the ideal of the philosophical doctor. Avicenna, in the early tenth century, introduced Aristotelian perspectives, especially in psychology, into the Platonic-Galenic view of perception and sensation, producing a hybrid of all three influences. Finally, the great medieval Jewish thinker Moses Maimonides attempted to delegitimize Galen’s appeal to Plato’s Timaeus, and so too the philosophical credentials of both writers, since Plato had denied creation out of nothing and hence God’s omnipotence.

With a sure command of Greek, Arabic, and Hebrew sources (among others) and a sophisticated sense of reception as opposed to mere transmission, informed by contemporary studies (STS and sociology of knowledge), Das expands the horizons not only of classical philology but also of the very concept of a discipline. Boundaries between disciplines (science, philosophy, theology), between ancient and modern thought, and between East and West are shown in this work to be provisional lines that are constantly and productively being redrawn and intertwined. For its scope and originality, its erudition, and its challenging perspectives, we are pleased to honor Aileen Das’s Galen and the Arabic Reception of Plato’s “Timaeus” with the Goodwin Award of Merit.

Citation for Ellen Oliensis, Loving Writing/Ovid’s Amores, Cambridge University Press, 2019

Who is Ovid?  Is he the often hapless, morally tawdry lover he professes to be in the Amores (and elsewhere, too), or the verbally dexterous, suave poet, master of a thousand rhetorical techniques, whose very control of language seems to render him passionless, a mere technician without the earnest sincerity of a Catullus or a Propertius?  Take the second couplet in the first of the Amores, in which Ovid explains why he abandoned epic for love poetry:

  par erat inferior uersus; risisse Cupido

            dicitur atque unum surripuisse pedem.

We know the story: Cupid pulls his usual trick of inflaming the poet’s desire so that he cannot help but write amatory verse.  But, as Oliensis observes, that is not quite what the impish god does here.  Rather, he altered the form of Ovid’s verses, transforming what was on course to be a hexameter composition into elegiac couplets by stealing one metrical foot and turning the second line into a pentameter.  This device, as Oliensis observes, “exposes a very deep truth about love poetry.  Poets who sit down to write love poetry are necessarily, while they are writing, poets first and lovers secondarily.” 

Then what about Ovid’s persona in the verses?  Oliensis gives him a name: Naso, as opposed to the poet Ovid.  But Naso, it turns out, is not as simple a character as we might imagine, the foil for the poet’s own attachment to his poetry.  Oliensis argues rather that Naso himself is erotically invested in the elegiac medium.  It is not just Ovid: Naso too wonders what to write, and it is he who is faced with the choice between elegy and, this time, tragedy in the opening poem of Book 3.  Such a choice, however, may seem a pale substitute for the living bodies that are the object of true erotic desire, and critics have pondered the logic of absence in this connection.  A fine Latinist writing at the top of her form, Oliensis rather argues for “the pleasurable effects that texts can have on their readers and producers, not just as poor makeshifts ... but in their own right, not despite but by virtue of their textuality.”  Sometimes lack itself is a pleasure, as Oliensis demonstrates with an elegant analysis of the way a pentameter line folds into and caresses its hexameter, inflecting the meaning as it folds and unfolds:  an erotics of meter. Oliensis’ nuanced exploration of the double nature of Ovid’s Amores brings a refined sensibility to the interpretation of Ovid’s loves, of what we may call the corpus of his poetry, and in appreciation of her insights we are pleased to honor her book with the Goodwin Award of Merit.

Citation for Andreas Willi, Origins of the Greek Verb, Cambridge University Press, 2018

This remarkable book is a bountiful storehouse of information on the proto-history and history of the Greek verb, a re-examination of some of the longest held views about the place of the Greek verb in the story of Proto-Indo-European and, above all, an explicit call to debate and further research. The book is a paradigm of detailed, technical philology, as well as an enlightening history of linguistic scholarship, but it is also a demonstration of how and why historical linguistics should matter to students of ancient literatures, even where many such students will be unable to follow the detailed linguistic arguments. Willi’s chapter on the augment, for example, sheds  light all over the interpretation of the text of Homer.

The richness of the Greek verbal system means, in Willi’s persuasive account, that it should be at the heart of the study of the Proto-Indo-European verb, for it is only in Greek where aspect, rather than tense, continued to play the central role it seems to have done in PIE. Willi’s method is to proceed phenomenon by phenomenon  to peel back the layers and reveal what happened very long ago, as imperfective formations came to be used as perfectives: reduplicated aorist, reduplicated present, the perfect, the thematic aorist, the augment and the sigmatic aorist all receive detailed chapters of historical investigation. The book’s attempt to offer an all-encompassing vision of the proto-history of the Greek verb is a challenge to comfortably received opinion and a genuine step forward in the field.

There is much in this hugely ambitious book which is (inevitably) speculative and where some will not wish to follow. In particular, Willi seeks to go back beyond the PIE verbal system to ‘Pre-Proto-Indo-European’ where, in his reconstruction, an ergative system gave way to the nominative-accusative system with which we are familiar. The speculation is built on remarkable command of the linguistic evidence, and it is certain to prompt further debate, both at the level of detail and also methodologically. What kinds of arguments are appropriate to such reconstructions and where do you draw the line and decide not to speculate further (a central question which Willi explicitly faces)?

Willi’s book is likely to be the basic starting-point for both discussion and high-level teaching of this subject for many years to come; it is as rich in reference material and the presentation of the evidence as it is in argument and provocation. It is also very elegantly written, despite the high level of technicality. For its scope, intellectual ambition and remarkable learning we are pleased to honor Andreas Willi’s Origins of the Greek Verb with the Goodwin Award of Merit.

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Fra Mauro map of the world. A circular map depicting Asia, Africa, and Europe.

For this installment of the SCS Blog, Chris Waldo asked Nandini Pandey and Ethan Ganesh Warren to compare notes about their experiences as South Asians in classics. Ethan, a current classics Ph.D. student at UT Austin, started Latin at the Brookfield Academy in Wisconsin and earned a B.A. from Rochester. Nandini is currently transitioning to a position at Johns Hopkins after seven years as an Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She and Ethan first met years ago over coffee in Madison. This transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Nandini: Ethan, it’s a great pleasure to get to speak to you today…because you and I first interacted in 2018. You’d grown up in Wisconsin, and you were finishing your undergrad at Rochester, and you had just read an article of mine on Eidolon on “turning the tables on dominance and diversity in Classics.” And it meant so much to me that you reached out.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 08/16/2021 - 9:44am by .

(From the University of Washington website)

Daniel P. Harmon

May 3, 1938 – July 25, 2021

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Mon, 08/16/2021 - 9:30am by Erik Shell.
Etruscan mirror with Lasa. Image courtesy of Met Museum.

The colloquium that I organized for the AIA annual meeting this past January, “Nudity, Costume, and Gender in Etruscan Art,” was intended to be a venue for current research on gender, dress, and the body in Etruscan art. It soon became clear, however, that the presenters’ work owed a tremendous debt to the scholarship of one of the premiere Etruscan scholars, Larissa Bonfante. Consequently, the session became a memorial to her and her contributions to the field.

Bonfante passed away in August of 2019, much to the shock of her family, friends, and colleagues. Though in her late 80s, Bonfante kept a busy research schedule as if she were a newly hired assistant professor working towards tenure. She was a versatile scholar who wrote on a diversity of topics, including the Etruscan language (usually with her father Giuliano, a well-known and respected linguist); representations of clothing in Etruscan and Roman art; influence of the Etruscans beyond Etruria; Etruscan identity; depictions of marriage, couples, and motherhood in Etruria; as well as the lack of dress in some Etruscan art.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 08/11/2021 - 10:38am by .

Art and Migration
2022/2023

The theme of migration has remained an inherent subject of art ever since some modern humans began to move across the planet, bringing their objects and technologies with them. Whether in Mesoamerica, the ancient Mediterranean, or medieval Africa, war, invasion, colonialism, enslavement, resettlement, and trade have fundamentally altered cultural production, reception, and rituals. In light of the many recent migration crises throughout the world, artists and scholars have responded to the critical movement of people and artifacts in myriad ways.

This year's theme encompasses questions of memory, destruction of cultural heritage, provenance and repatriation, and the complex lives of movable objects, traditions, and practices. How does art that concerns migration contribute to or detract from ideas about belonging and community; assimilation and isolation; tradition, innovation, and legal or cultural boundaries? How are patterns or processes of movement made visible or invisible through the artworks, objects, and communities that are created, adapted, abandoned, or destroyed? Furthermore, what happens when mobility is brought to a halt?

Applicants may also consider representation, identity, and hybridity, as well as recent genetic research and long-term patterns of mobility, immobility, and migration.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Wed, 08/11/2021 - 8:03am by Erik Shell.
Sappho reading one of her poems to a group of friends. Red-figure vase by the Group of Polygnotos, ca. 440–430 BCE. National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

The Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities initiative (AnWoMoCo), launched by the SCS in 2019 as the Classics Everywhere initiative, supports projects that seek to engage broader publics — individuals, groups, and communities — in critical discussion of and creative expression related to the ancient Mediterranean, the global reception of Greek and Roman culture, and the history of teaching and scholarship in the field of classical studies. As part of this initiative, the SCS has funded 111 projects, ranging from school programming to reading groups, prison programs, public talks and conferences, digital projects, and collaborations with artists in theater, opera, music, dance, and the visual arts. The initiative welcomes applications from all over the world. To date, it has funded projects in 25 states and 11 countries, including Canada, UK, Italy, Greece, Spain, Belgium, Ghana, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and India.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 08/02/2021 - 9:15am by .

An announcement from the organizers of the West Coast Plato Workshop:

The 2022 West Coast Plato Workshop will be on Plato’s Republic Book 1-4.  It will take place May 27-29, 2022, at Stanford University.  

We do intend this to be an in person conference (the pandemic permitting).  But we also understand that some people’s circumstances may not allow them to attend an person event.  We will make the conference available via Zoom and if anyone whose paper is accepted is unable to attend in person, we’ll work with her to make it possible for her present via Zoom.  Although we still intend it to be in person, we can make some exceptions if need be.

Submissions should consist in two separate pages: (i) the title of the paper, name(s), academic rank(s), affiliation(s), and email contact of the author(s); (ii) title and 500-word abstract prepared for blind review.  Submissions should be double-spaced in 12 point font.  MSWord or PDF formats only.  The paper presentation at the conference should be about 40 minutes in length. 

Refereeing for submissions will be blind and will be done by the present host of the WCPW along with members of the WCPW program committee and other WCPW-affiliated scholars. 

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 07/26/2021 - 7:01pm by Helen Cullyer.

H. Don Cameron (1934-2021), Arthur F. Thurnau Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan, passed away on July 17, 2021. Among his many achievements, Professor Emeritus Cameron was the recipient of the 1987 APA Award for Teaching Excellence at the Collegiate Level.

A full obituary and tribute, written by Benjamin Fortson of the University of Michigan, is available online: https://lsa.umich.edu/classics/news-events/all-news/search-news/remembering-don-cameron.html

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Mon, 07/26/2021 - 6:49pm by Helen Cullyer.
ACLS logo

An announcement from the ACLS:

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is pleased to announce our 2021-22 fellowship and grant competitions. Our online application system is now open for programs with September and October deadlines.

ACLS offers fellowship and grant programs that promote research across the full spectrum of humanities and interpretive social science fields. ACLS invites applications from scholars on and off the tenure track. 

Our peer review and award processes aim to promote inclusive excellence, and we welcome applicants from groups that are underrepresented in the academic humanities and from across the diverse landscape of higher education.

Detailed information including Fall 2021 deadlines is available at: https://www.acls.org/Fellowship-and-Grant-Programs/Competitions-and-Dead...

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Mon, 07/26/2021 - 6:39pm by Helen Cullyer.
Cover of Euripides' The Trojan Women: A Comic, by Rosanna Bruno and Anne Carson

By Christopher Trinacty, Emma Glen, and Emily Hudson (Oberlin College)

Anne Carson’s celebrated adaptations and translations of Ancient Greek and Latin literature have ranged from imagining the love affair between Geryon and Heracles in The Autobiography of Red to meditating about the death of her brother through Catullus 101 in Nox. In our opinion, Carson’s works highlight her theoretical sophistication as well as her deep commitment to the reception of Classics broadly understood. This new “comic” version of Euripides’ Trojan Women by Carson and illustrator Rosanna Bruno offers a creative and challenging take on Euripides’s tragedy.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 07/23/2021 - 12:45pm by .

The National Humanities Center invites applications for academic-year or one-semester residential fellowships. Mid-career, senior, and emerging scholars with a strong record of peer-reviewed work from all areas of the humanities are encouraged to apply.

Scholars from all parts of the globe are eligible; stipends and travel expenses are provided. Fellowship applicants must have a PhD or equivalent scholarly credentials. Fellowships are supported by the Center’s own endowment, private foundation grants, contributions from alumni and friends, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Located in the vibrant Research Triangle region of North Carolina, the Center affords access to the rich cultural and intellectual communities supported by the area’s research institutes, universities, and dynamic arts scene. Fellows enjoy private studies, in-house dining, and superb library services that deliver all research materials.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Wed, 07/21/2021 - 12:18pm by Erik Shell.

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