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I want to provide an update on the steps we are taking to implement the change in the name of the Association that the members approved this summer. With the help of incoming President Kathryn Gutzwiller, I formed an ad hoc committee consisting of members who represent various communities in our society to consider issues such as communicating with audiences outside the membership and guiding the graphic designer who is creating a new logo for us.
As part of this process we have learned that taking the legal steps required to change our name is the easiest task ahead of us. We are incorporated in Delaware, and that state requires only that we file a simple form and pay a modest fee. Legally we will become the Society for Classical Studies as soon as we make that filing. Before we take that step, we want to have a logo ready and decide how the new name and its “subtitle” (founded in 1869 as the American Philological Association) will appear on our printed and electronic publications. We also want to identify and prepare communications for all the audiences (both internal and external) who need to know about our change.
California State University Long Beach’s Classics program would like to announce that we are making our upper division Latin reading classes available to students via the web. These are not “online” classes; they are classes conducted with students in real time. People who are interested in joining our classes would attend class sessions virtually through a web interface, and thus anyone who wants to participate would have to be online during the specific class time.
For Spring semester 2014, we are offering two reading courses, Cicero and Caesar. The semester begins on Tuesday, January 21, and concludes on Friday, May 23, with Spring Break during the week of March 21. Each class meets three hours per week and earns a student 3 semester units. The prerequisite for each class is intermediate Latin; i.e., students will be expected to have facility with noun and verb morphology and an introductory knowledge of Latin grammatical constructions.
The Department of Classical Studies at the College of William and Mary is currently accepting applications for its first incoming class of students interested in pursuing a Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Classical Studies. This is a flexible program of study for students who have an undergraduate degree and who wish to pursue an intensive course of study in the Classical languages in preparation for graduate studies, teaching, or personal enrichment. Students in the program take specific courses in Latin, Greek, and classical civilization appropriate to their level of preparation. This program is especially designed for students who wish to:
- pursue graduate study in Classical Studies but do not have enough Latin and Greek to be competitive in applying to Ph.D. programs.
- teach Greek, Latin, or a related field in Classical Studies but have only a limited number of courses in Greek or Latin as an undergraduate student.
- study Latin or Greek (or both) for personal intellectual growth and satisfaction.
A complete program description and application for admission can be found at: www.wm.edu/as/classicalstudies/post-bac-program/index.php. For additional information, please contact: John Donahue, Chair, Department of Classical Studies at email@example.com or at 757-221-1930.
Classico Contemporaneo is a new international review aimed at sharing themes, methods and experiences dealing with the persistence of the classical tradition in western cultural memory. The review’s focus converges on the relationship between modernity and Classics and its influence on the daily collective imagination.
The guidelines for submissions include, but are not limited to, didactical practices, research themes, and methodology. Experiences from abroad and reviews of literary and visual works inspired by Classics are welcome.
The first issue of Classico Contemporaneo will collect contributions about the classical tradition in western cultural memory and new perspectives that modern knowledge transmission has created. For information please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
OK, my title is a more than a little tongue in cheek. Blogging for the APA doesn’t make me a public intellectual. Nor does the one article I’ve published for a wider public, a piece on Petronius for Salon.com. But by the same token it seems to me that most professional classical scholars don't pursue publishing in such venues, and I think more of us should attempt it. There are a lot of reasons why we don't. We’re not trained to write for broad audiences, and the tenure and promotion system demands that we devote our energy to peer-reviewed publications. Most of us don't know how we would go about finding a venue (I got published on Salon by pure, naïve luck, a shot in the dark to a culture editor. There must be better ways to do it, and I now know that your college’s office of communications can help, but I would welcome an APA panel with advice from those who have actually done it). But I also wonder whether many of us, self-conscious about the specialization of our expertise, don't think of ourselves as having much to say. So I think it’s useful to deflate the vaunted designation of “public intellectual” a bit, because too much vaunting discourages us from trying to attain it. It’s bad for our field if no one is speaking to the public about what we do.
Over the summer I saw a production of Antigone at the Schaubühne in Berlin, and for the most part I absolutely hated it. In a way this was rather good – I’ve seen so many blah-blah-just-fine productions of Greek tragedy that it’s easy to forget the invigorating ire that trickles down your spine when you see the immortal lines to which you’ve devoted your career trampled into the dust before your eyes. It was a classic example of artistic navel-gazing at its most extreme: the whole play was set in a therapy group, where the actors took it in turns to adopt the roles of different participants in the myth to work through their own issues, and then came out of character to discuss what they’d learned from the process. Everything was blasted with self-referential irony until every last trace of emotion withered and died. Tiresias was played by a glove-puppet who threw fried chicken all over the stage while uttering his prophecies in a squeaky voice. The duel between Polynices and Eteocles was staged as a wet towel fight. There was far too much silver glitter involved at every point.
“At last my love has come along.” — At Last, written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren
tandem uenit amor (at last my love has come along) — Sulpicia poem 1, line 1
Etta James’ most famous song quotes the first line of the love-elegist Sulpicia, one of the few surviving Graeco-Roman women poets. One of the song’s composers, Harry Warren (born Salvatore Antonio Guaragna), was the son of Italian immigrants. Perhaps he encountered the line through them, and it stuck with him over the years? More likely a coincidence. In “Rumour Has It,” a recent chart-topper by the pop star Adele—a self-described admirer of Etta James and lover of poetry—the plot is one of love unrequited and rumor at large, a scenario reminiscent of Dido, Aeneas, and Rumor in Vergil Aeneid book 4. (I’m not the first to make this association: see @calpunzel on Twitter.) Even closer correspondences with Vergil appear in the songs of the singer Dido, particularly “My Lover’s Gone,” as Alden Smith has pointed out.
For several weeks in August and September, the United States government considered whether or not to bomb Syria. Public support for bombing hovered around ten percent, but the nation’s leaders seemed open to proceeding with military action. Various reasons were offered – to prevent further deaths from gas attacks by Syrian government forces; to degrade the Assad regime’s capacity to launch such attacks; to enforce international laws banning chemical weapons; to honor President Obama’s “red line” ultimatum of some months earlier; and to show rogue regimes and the world that the United States meant business when it made threats. An addendum to the last argument was that inaction would embolden the likes of Iran or North Korea. This line of thought got me thinking of a course I teach at Penn State, and the “logic of empire.”
Here in Europe, one of the expectations that come with a university position is that one will apply for big-money research grants. This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because there genuinely is extra money on offer: if you want to run a complex collaborative project with postdoctoral researchers and extra PhD students, you can. It’s a curse because universities, which are (traditionally) almost all publicly funded and minimally endowed, are increasingly reliant on that extra income to keep afloat. As a result, there is pressure on the professors to bring in research money, sometimes against their own better judgment. At best, it’s a virtuous circle: the academic wants to do the research, and the grant enables it. At worst, the tail of the research grant wags the academic dog: the professor designs the application just to satisfy the university’s demand for income-generation, and ends up either rejected or (worse) running a project ineptly and unhappily.
Overall, though, I do think it is a good thing: it does mean that there are rich opportunities for collaboration between individuals, disciplines and institutions. I like to think of myself, however naively, as one of those classicists who can flourish in the new world order. I like working with other people and other universities, I like the energy, inventiveness and drive of early-career researchers, and I’m not too troubled by the organizational side of things.
We are launching a new feature on our website, "Guest Blogs," and we invite you to check it out and see what you think. Our field is amazingly varied, and there are new developments on the move in all parts of that variety, so that it seemed a good idea to have a forum where members can be kept up to date, informed, and--ideally-entertained in the process. We have invited a dozen Classicists to contribute regular columns (to keep an archaic print term that seems to have survived into the new medium). We have tried to cover as much of the range of our subject as we can, and a geographical span as well, to capture at least some of the range of perspectives and expertises under the umbrella of our organization.