CFP: Race and Racism: Beyond the Spectacular

Revised 9/23/21 with updated submission deadline of Friday, February 18, 2022.

As previously announced, Patrice Rankine and Sasha-Mae Eccleston will serve as guest editors of a future issue of TAPA with the theme of race, racism, and Classics (issue 153:1, to appear April 2023). Covid-19 and the global Movement 4 Black Lives have highlighted the extent to which racism is a public health emergency whose reach extends across the Black Atlantic and far beyond. In light of these deeply imbricated developments of 2020 (and 2021), this volume becomes even more timely. A detailed call for papers, along with submission instructions, follows.

Race and Racism: Beyond the Spectacular

"…the “cultural logic” of lynching enables it to emerge and persist throughout the modern era because its violence “fit” within the broader, national cultural developments. This synchronicity captures why I refer to lynching as “spectacular”: the violence made certain cultural developments and tensions visible for Americans to confront."

       Jacqueline Goldsby, A Spectacular Secret: Lynching in American Life and Literature

The last few annual meetings of the Society for Classical Studies (SCS) have been the staging ground for long overdue discussions about race and other marginalized identities within the discipline of Classics. These discussions have taken place in spectacular fashion, to borrow from Jacqueline Goldsby’s analysis of the cultural logic of lynching, a violent example of the pervasive yet less visible realities structuring American life. This heightened awareness of race and racism might be a new watershed, but it recalls the polarizing controversies that revolved around Bernal’s Black Athena during the culture wars of the 1980s and 90s. That is, having escaped notice for a time, Classical Studies is once again being made to confront its relationship to broader cultural developments. Through keynotes, presidential panels, award ceremonies, and gatherings of caucus groups, classicists have sought of late to counter the public and blatant acts of racism that have drawn the attention of outlets outside of the regular disciplinary orbit. SCS sessions such as Robin DiAngelo’s “white fragility” workshop have revealed the stability of majoritarian, white supremacist practices, exposing what minoritized members of the field have long known: spectacular acts of bigotry and endangerment are not exceptional, not a blip in the otherwise ‘civilized’ rhythms of scholarly life. They are better publicized iterations of everyday experiences.

For Classical Studies, the spectacular is also prismatic. Modern instantiations of whiteness, race, and racism project back onto the past, so that scholarship regularly and unremarkably advances the cultural logic. This logic likewise recurs in conversations about representational diversity and inclusion. The academy at large has only recently begun to systematically interrogate how professional routines normalize racism and racialize other forms of discrimination.  As a field, the Classics must also imagine a full-throated response to the realities of this discrimination in both its spectacular and mundane manifestations. 

This issue of TAPA intends to be a catalyst for transformative ideas regarding the reality of race and racism within all aspects of Greek and Roman Studies. We seek contributions that analyze and critically engage phenomena which have been considered unrelated to race, have been so familiar as to remain un-critiqued as spectacular, have not yet been brought to light, or that have tended to be avoided for being too disruptive of the disciplinary status quo. Rather than cordon off advances from other branches of scholarship, this issue welcomes reflections on Classical Studies from other disciplines. We remain attentive to the discipline’s self-declared roots in philology. But the scope of this endeavor demands that we also open ourselves up to other models of critique and to the insights that those models produce. To that end, scholars from fields with similar disciplinary trajectories, with research interests that dovetail with Classics, or whose work is assumed to have no relationship to race and/in the Classics are especially encouraged to submit papers.

We offer the following clusters of questions as non-exhaustive entry points into a longer conversation:

What, if any, is the semantic force of the term ‘Classical Studies,’ as opposed to other potential rubrics, e.g., Greek and Roman Studies, Mediterranean Studies, etc.? What is the force of ‘Classical Studies’ in relation to Indigenous Studies, Asian American Studies, Arab American Studies, Latinx Studies and so on?

Are there disciplinary transformations we might use as guides for an anti-racist restructuring of the field?

Though it is often posited as objective and therefore outside of or resistant to so-called 'cultural difference', how can philology and other formalisms shed the garb of objectivity to operationalize racial competence?

How has the elasticity of whiteness manifested in periods when the discipline of Classical Studies has been most self-conscious? Has the warm reception of postcolonial studies within the field obscured the relationship between Classical Studies and contemporary forms of imperial conquest, e.g., global markets, philanthropy and humanitarian relief in the Global South, and American educational expansionism?

How can critical approaches to work and other institutions—universities, prisons, the healthcare industry and so on—inform our understanding of the entanglements of our field and its practitioners? What coalitions does such an approach make possible, perhaps at both the local/regional and national levels?

Submission deadlines and instructions:

  • Articles for this issue should be submitted no earlier than August 1, 2021, and no later than February 18, 2022.
  • Submissions should be uploaded via the TAPA online submission system. Please add a note in the title field indicating that you submission is intended for this special issue.
  • Contributors should consult the current Style Sheet for Authors (revised July 13, 2021)
  • All submissions will receive double-blind refereeing as is usual for TAPA.

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(Photo: "Handwritten" by A. Birkan, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

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A brightly colored manuscript page. On the left is calligraphy in Sanskrit; on the right is a woman in printed garb sitting in a carriage pulled by two white horses. She makes a gesture with her two palms press together. A black figure looks back at her.

Like many educators, I have found myself in an endless loop lately of thinking and rethinking my teaching principles and practices — a loop caused by the unprecedented teaching conditions the pandemic has brought upon us. Though I consider myself a thoughtful instructor, I admit that I have never thought so extensively, carefully, and critically about the purposes and desired outcomes of my teaching as I have in the months between March 2020 and now. Each week of each semester involves calibrating and recalibrating my courses, as I hope to meet the needs of my students and help them balance their lives within the classroom and without. I have become more attuned to the extramural realities that bear on my students’ learning, and as someone who works at a Hispanic-serving Institution, a desire for inclusivity increasingly informs the way I teach. My own institution just recently offered its first workshop on culturally responsive pedagogy, which provided me with many new tools for teaching in inclusive ways. Among other things, I realized that any kind of responsive pedagogy involves constant conversation with one’s colleagues, to generate, refresh, and fine-tune ways of teaching with a view toward inclusion and accessibility.

View full article. | Posted in on Sun, 01/09/2022 - 9:37pm by .
A Macbook sits on a wooden desk showing a Zoom screen filled with faces. Left of it, a turquoise mug sits on the desk.

To write about the Capitol Insurrection, as the one-year anniversary approached, I went back through my chat logs from January 6, 2021, in the interest of refreshing and confirming my memory. What I found, in lieu of any particularly meaningful conclusions, was a window into that day and how some friends and I were dealing with catastrophic events as they unfolded.

That day, I had a university meeting wedged between SCS panels, and I think I actually found the precise moment when I realized what was going on. That moment is a fairly profanity-laden series of messages with a very-online friend of mine, to whom I sent “So what the fuck is happening in DC?? I've been in meetings and the capitol building is being stormed??” followed by “i allegedly have another meeting right now and i am physically nauseous after having like a 5 minute break and seeing the news.”

In all my other group chats, things progressed about the same. Conversation about the SCS conference and pre-semester preparation, interrupted by a confused panic about what was happening on the news. A bunch of millennial classicists trying frantically to figure out where they can watch live news and wondering why all the afternoon panels weren’t canceled (though some were), processing anger and fear in countless group-chats and DMs.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 01/07/2022 - 12:48pm by .
A painting of Rome featuring a crowd of men fighting on a hill. Behind them is an obelisk, a column, and a toppled white marble statue of a nude man.

At 2:00 pm on January 6th, 2021, a mob made its way up the steps of the U.S. Capitol following a morning of brinkmanship, speeches, and speculation. I sat in my office at home, logged into a Zoom session, watching Twitter and a streaming news channel on one screen, all while pretending to be engaged with the beginning of an SCS Panel, “The Powers and Perils of Solitude in Greek Literature.”

At 2:20 or so, I was slated to begin a talk entitled “Being Human, Being Alone” as the Capitol was evacuated and our legislators were put under protection. At 2:24 pm, President Trump tweeted, “Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 01/06/2022 - 10:00am by Joel Perry Christensen.
A monochromatic stone statue of a man with short hair wrapped in a toga and sitting in a large chair. His right arm is leaning on the back of the chair, and his left hand holds a writing tablet on his lap. The base of the statue reads "SALLVSTIVS"

What do you read for an insurrection? Classics offers plenty of material for revolutionary bibliophiles: compilations for the budding revolutionary, handbooks for coups both successful and failed. The Capitol rioters certainly had their Classics before their eyes, as Curtis Dozier outlined shortly after the event: Caesar and XenophonVergil and Herodotus.

But in January 2021, I was reading Sallust—and an apt choice it was, too. Not because of what Sallust writes — Catiline’s attempt to overthrow the government or Marius’ attempt to change Roman institutions — but because of what he passes over. He was there at the swelling of the atmosphere that led to the burning of the Senate house on January 19th (what is it about Januaries?), 52 bce, during the funeral of Publius Clodius.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 01/05/2022 - 11:20am by Ayelet Haimson Lushkov.
New WCC logo reading WCC 50th, 1972-2022. Beige font on a dusty pink background.

The year was 1971. In the lobby of a hotel in Cincinnati, OH, a small group of early career faculty and graduate students, mostly women, met and decided to form a caucus. Frustrated by the lack of transparency, mentors, and opportunities in Classics both for women in the field and for those who studied women in antiquity, they wanted something different, both for themselves and for future generations. At the next year’s Annual Meeting of the American Philological Association (APA) in Philadelphia, PA, they made it official. The Women’s Classical Caucus (WCC) was born.

By phone, mail, and intermittent gatherings at regional conferences and the APA (now SCS), the founders and early members of this young caucus stayed connected and encouraged each other in its early decades to publish feminist scholarship and introduce to their departments new, revolutionary courses on “women in antiquity,” which received almost immediate backlash.

Fast forward 50 years, and it’s hard to imagine a time when women and feminist scholars were not a strong presence in the profession, whether publishing scholarship through the lens of feminist theory, teaching about ancient women at both the K-12 and university levels, or taking on leadership roles both in the SCS and in their local institutions.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 01/03/2022 - 10:14am by .

Every year at the annual meeting we hold the Career Networking event, a meeting that gives academics access to former classicists, historians, and archeologists who have made career shifts into new fields. They speak candidly about their transition, and are there to offer advice to anyone looking to change career paths. This year we have more networkers than in any year previous, with a broad range of fields and experiences represented.

We will hold our annual Career Networking event at this year's virtual AIA/SCS Annual Meeting on Saturday, January 8th, from 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Please block off time to attend this extraordinarily helpful event. It'll be accessible through the digital meeting platform.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 01/03/2022 - 9:01am by Erik Shell.

The AIA and SCS have made the difficult decision to switch our upcoming 2022 Annual Meeting to a virtual only event.  We had high hopes to once again have an in-person component to our meeting, but the rapid rise in Covid cases due to the Delta and Omicron variants have made that impossible to do safely.  While we are eager to see everyone in-person again, the overall health and safety of our attendees, staff, and hotel and meeting personnel take precedence. 

Since we were already planning to hold our meeting in a hybrid format the transition to a virtual only meeting will not be difficult.  We are using the same platform as last year and all sessions will be available through the virtual meeting platform.  Details on how to access it will be emailed out to all attendees next Monday (January 3).

If you had been planning to attend in person, please contact the Hilton to cancel your reservation.  We will be reaching out to all in-person registrants following the meeting regarding refunds for the difference in registration rates. 

We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy and look forward to seeing you online during our virtual meeting. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 12/29/2021 - 2:17pm by Helen Cullyer.

SCS is pleased to announce the following winners of the 2021 excellence in teaching awards. Please join us in congratulating the winners!

Excellence in Teaching at the K-12 Level

Jessie Craft (Reagan High School, WSFCS school district)

Mathew Olkovikas (Pinkerton Academy)

Margaret Somerville (Friends' Central School)

Excellence in Teaching at the College and University Level

Deborah Beck (University of Texas at Austin)

Richard Ellis (University of California, Los Angeles)

Wilfred Major (Louisiana State University)

Brett Rogers (University of Puget Sound)

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Mon, 12/27/2021 - 9:09am by Helen Cullyer.
Oil painting of a white man sitting in a large chair facing left with a dissatisfied expression. He wears a white toga with red drapery over his left arm, a crown, a gold cuff bracelet, and short curly hair. A tiger sits between his legs.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that humor ages poorly. Jokes tend to be topical, and to be based on the social expectations of a particular group at a particular moment. The deterioration of humor over time is often a matter of changing contexts as well as changing tastes: ideas that once made a coherent joke cease to fit together.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 12/27/2021 - 8:34am by .

Call for Papers

Exemplary Representation(s) of the Past:

New Readings of Valerius Maximus’ Facta et dicta memorabilia

The last thirty years have seen an increase in interest in Valerius Maximus and his Facta et dicta memorabilia. Willing to consider Valerius’ collection of historical exempla as a piece of literature in its own right, scholars have started to scrutinise its moral, social, and intellectual significance at the time of the early Roman Empire and beyond.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 12/23/2021 - 9:24am by Erik Shell.

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Every year at the annual meeting we hold the Career Networking event, a meeti
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The AIA and SCS have made the difficult decision to switch our upcoming 2022
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