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The SCS Outreach Prize Committee is pleased to award the 2023 Outreach Prize to “The Siren Project: Women’s Voice in Literature and the Visual Arts.”

Our outreach prize “recognizes an outstanding project or program by an SCS member or members that makes available and accessible an aspect of classical antiquity to an audience other than Classics scholars or students at their home institutions.”

“The Siren Project” ( is an interdisciplinary initiative of the University of Virginia, co-directed by Giulio Celotto (Classics), Francesca Calamita (Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese), and Giulia Paoletti (Art). “The Siren Project”, named after the mythological characters described for the first time by Homer in his Odyssey, reflects on the representation and the role of women’s voice in literature and the visual arts through time and across geographies. From the beginning of Western civilization, women’s voices have been regarded as extremely dangerous and deceiving; men have consistently tried to silence them. The phenomenon is not limited to the Western past: the mermaid-like water spirit Mami Wata, for instance, is both venerated and feared across Africa and its diaspora, her powers and voice considered similarly seductive and dangerous. Through numerous initiatives since 2020, “The Siren Project” has promoted the idea that women should transform themselves from “Sirens,” whose voices are deliberately ignored or silenced, into “sirens,” whose shouts draw attention to pressing global issues, such as gender inequality, in the wake of the #MeToo movement. In a rich schedule of public events (lectures, workshops, symposia, conferences) invited scholars, artists, and activists explore not only the history of silencing women, but also women’s long struggle for expression in many media. “The Siren Project” has structured accessibility into its work from the beginning, reaching beyond the academy for expertise, mode, and medium. From a symposium on recovering the speech of individual and groups of women in Rome, to discussion of the role of black women in modern Italian cinema, to an artist’s talk on using figured silk fabrics to explore and complicate ideas of domesticity, femininity, and maternity in South Africa, to many-layered readings of modern Italian woman-authored novels, to photographic exhibits focusing on women residents of refugee camps, to conversations with journalists and philosophers, featuring fields from Classics to literature to modern film studies, from Italy to the Middle East to Ghana and beyond, “The Siren Project” is working to create impressive connections among diverse specializations and broad audiences. This is surely an outstanding contribution to the outreach mission of the Society for Classical Studies and merits our highest commendation.

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