Classical Studies in the 21st Century

Classical Studies in the 21st Century: More Relevant Than Ever

The AIA-SCS joint ad hoc committee on the future of classics and archaeology met earlier this year to discuss pressures common to both fields. The group agreed to create a document that can be used to remind college and university administrators of what we do and our relevance. The joint statement entitled “Classical Studies in the 21st Century: More Relevant Than Ever,” is below and also available as a PDF download. Department chairs and other departmental members are welcome to use it as talking points with decision-makers at your institutions, be they chairs, deans, provosts, chancellors and some other administrator, as a reminder of the continuing and important benefits of our fields. You may use the entire statement or customize it to meet the specific needs of your department and profile of your institution. We realize that there are many successful advocacy strategies, and we hope this brief statement will join them. If you have already successfully advocated to preserve or expand your department, let us know what worked.

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The Society for Classical Studies and the Archaeological Institute of America affirm the value and benefits of undergraduate and graduate academic engagement with classical antiquity. “Classics” once denoted the languages, histories and cultures, and material remains of the Greek and Roman societies dominant in the Mediterranean (~ 2000 BCE-500 CE) and contributing to European and American history, law and politics, and literature. Now, thanks to diverse perspectives and new technologies, the field looks to the present and future as well as the past, and it is ever more accessible. Contemporary classicists and archaeologists engage with cultural property and repatriation, for example; others read The Iliad with PTSD-afflicted veterans; still others compare empire-building in China and in Rome. Today the study of the Classical world stretches from antiquity to the future and encompasses regions far outside the Mediterranean. 

As core humanities disciplines, Classical Studies and Archaeology advance undergraduates’ varied careers and goals in ways eloquently attested by the National Humanities Alliance. Our statement focuses more specifically on the virtues of courses that your institution may offer through departments or programs in Classical Studies, Classics, Mediterranean Studies, and the like. Your own faculty and students would be happy to tell you more about these and other benefits, as well as the exciting work they do daily. In the meantime, we list some benefits here:

• The precision needed to explore cultures that peaked thousands of years ago and to interpret fragmentary remains builds critical thinking and other skills essential to all higher learning.
• Archaeology courses are a perfect bridge between STEM and the Humanities.
• Online epigraphic, papyrological, archaeological, and other types of classics databases hone skills in data curation and analysis.
• Learning Greek, Latin, and other languages and literature analyzed for centuries provides structured ways to understand language, and to internalize and improve syntax, vocabulary, and literary style.
• The history of the Mediterranean, marked by slavery, suppression of women and noncitizens, steep inequalities, and other rampant injustices, allows engagement with difficult issues that still resonate today.
• Classical political philosophy helped shaped our US Constitution and others; its grasp enables analysis and informed debate of current politics and governments.
• Ancient art and architecture have continued to influence sculptors, painters, buildings, and urban planning; Greek and Roman literature has resonated through the ages. Students investigate classical themes and elements re-imagined from Donatello to Vik Muniz, Paris’ Arc de Triomphe to the Lincoln Memorial and Mexico City’s El Palacio de Bellas Artes, or Shakespeare to Gwendolyn Brooks, and understand the importance of the past to the present.
• Ancient philosophy, by inquiring into the meaning of life and grappling with personal success and failure, allows students to reflect and connect with others.
• Archaeological field work provides experiential, collaborative, and vertical learning.
• Islamic scholars preserved and developed Greek and Roman science and medicine, one example of beneficial cross-cultural interactions significant for the Classics.

Mary T. Boatwright, President (2019), Society of Classical Studies; Jodi Magness, President (2016-19), Archaeological Institute of America (June 8, 2019)

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"Eric Dugdale, associate professor of classics at Gustavus Adolphus College, received the 2011 Faculty Scholarly Achievement Award on May 7 at the College’s Honors Day Convocation." Read more at the Gustavus Adolphus Blog.

View full article. | Posted in Member News on Wed, 05/11/2011 - 12:57am by .

The complete financial statement for fiscal year 2009 - 2010 is now available. Click here to download it as a pdf, or go to the Financial Statements page to view current and previous statements.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Sun, 05/08/2011 - 4:07pm by .

Audiences are invited to get intimate with the action in the second instalment of a fresh take on Camus' 'Caligula.'

"As many countries in the world struggle to depose tyrants, a timely play is taking to a Bangkok stage, transporting audiences to ancient Rome to unseat an emperor who has just elected his horse as prime minister. Fancy a stab?" Read more in The Bangkok Post …

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sun, 05/08/2011 - 12:25am by Information Architect.

"'Heracles to Alexander the Great: Treasures from the Royal Capital of Macedon, a Hellenic Kingdom in the Age of Democracy' is as crowded with objects as its title is with ideas. The Ashmolean manages to cram in about 500 objects, discovered in the royal tombs and palaces of Aegae (modern-day Vergina in the north of Greece), most of which are being displayed for the very first time." Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Fri, 05/06/2011 - 2:11am by Information Architect.

"The transformation of humans into monsters or animals is a standard feature of two great genres: classical Greek and Roman myth and American comic books. As those of us know who spent our childhoods and teenaged years greedily hoarding the latter, such transformations are only occasionally effected by a mere change of costume. Batman, for instance (introduced in 1939), is an ordinary Homo sapiens who simply dons his bat-like hood and cape when he wants to battle evildoers; his extraordinary powers are the fruit of disciplined intellectual and physical training. More often—and more excitingly—the metamorphoses occur at the genetic level. The Incredible Hulk, who debuted in 1962, is a hypertrophied Hercules-like giant, the Mr. Hyde aspect of an otherwise mild-mannered scientist named Bruce Banner, created during a laboratory accident involving gamma rays. Wolverine, one of the X-men, who sports lupine traits following his transformations, belongs to a despised race of “mutants” with remarkable powers. (The comic book series, now reincarnated as a hugely popular film franchise, debuted in 1963.)" Read more at The New York Review of Books.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Wed, 05/04/2011 - 12:25am by Information Architect.

"Jeffrey Henderson, the University’s William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of Greek Language and Literature and a world-renowned classics scholar, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS)." Read the article at BU Today.

View full article. | Posted in Member News on Wed, 05/04/2011 - 12:21am by .

"Keeping the tradition of oral recitation alive in the age of technological storytelling, the University Classics Club hosted Homerathon, a 15-hour long recital of Homer’s The Odyssey." Read more…

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 05/02/2011 - 3:35am by Information Architect.

"The University of Florida College of Fine Arts and Digital Worlds Institute has been awarded $50,000 by the National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities." Read more…

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 05/02/2011 - 3:30am by Information Architect.

The phrase “Temenid dynasty” doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue. But this august lineage, which produced Philip II and Alexander the Great, was key to the development of the Western world. And in the Ashmolean’s dazzling display of archaeological finds the history of early Greece comes alive. Read more at The Telegraph.com…

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 05/02/2011 - 3:28am by Information Architect.

A 2,000-year-old Roman ship in the middle of a plain near the ancient port of Rome has been unearthed by Italian archaeologists. Read more in Discovery News

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 05/02/2011 - 3:25am by Information Architect.

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