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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This month, we spotlight the graduate research of Dr. Vivian A. Laughlin, who recently defended her dissertation on the Roman imperial appropriation of Serapis this spring.

While excavating at Hadrian’s Villa in 2015 with Columbia University I noticed that there were various architectural designs and material culture that appeared to be influenced by Egyptian culture. Then when roaming through various parts of the city of Rome, I began to see similar aesthetic references to Egyptian iconography in many places from Augustus’ House on the Palatine to Roman imperial works within various museums throughout the city. I questioned the Egyptian iconography I saw and why the visual references were being made. The more I questioned it, the more it created a burgeoning reason to investigate further and to better understand the relationship between Rome and Egypt. It was almost as if the material culture was speaking to my soul.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/10/2019 - 6:40am by Vivian A. Laughlin.

The SCS is proud to announce that it is now hosting the newest version of Joy Connolly's "Going on the Market...and What Comes Before," a detailed and practical guide to preparation for the academic job market.

The text is hosted on the SCS website here, and can be found on the Placement Service toolbar.

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(Photo: "_DSC7061" by rhodesj, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 05/09/2019 - 9:13am by Erik Shell.

CfP: The spatial turn in Roman studies

Auckland, January 22-24 2020
Durham, June 10-12 2020

Organised by Amy Russell and Maxine Lewis

We write to announce two international conferences plus a year-long programme of events in Durham on the theme ‘The spatial turn in Roman studies’. This is the call for papers for the Auckland conference, 22-24 January 2020. A call for papers for the Durham conference will follow.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 05/09/2019 - 9:03am by Erik Shell.

By Urmila Mohan and Courtney O’Dell-Chaib

Scholars of religion have developed a framework for exploration of interactions between religion and tangible objects called "material religion." Over the past two decades, the focus within the study of material religion has emphasised object agency, aesthetics and networks. Disseminated in part by the journal Material Religion, a materialised study of religion explores religiosity as inseparable from a matrix of components including people, divine forces, institutions, things, places and communities. However, what still remains to be unpacked is a focus on the way material religion takes place globally. That is not merely editing case studies from different parts of the world based on theory generated in the West, but trying to see how vectors of bodies, affect, objects and ecologies might generate new theoretical approaches and data based on close cultural or ethnographic analyses.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 05/02/2019 - 4:47pm by .

(From the University of Mississippi's website)

Former University of Mississippi professor Lucy Turnbull will always be remembered as a beloved educator who could make her curriculum both easy to understand and infinitely interesting to her students, a mentor and a champion of civil rights at Ole Miss.

Her enthusiasm for the classics was contagious, which propelled her students to success in her art history, archaeology, mythology and classical civilization courses. Turnbull, 87, of Oxford, joined the university faculty in 1961 and taught until 1990. She died Sunday (April 21).

Dewey Knight, recently retired UM associate director of the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, was one of Turnbull’s friends. He entered the university as a freshman in 1966 and found himself in one of her classes that year.

“She walked into the classroom that first day,” Knight said. “There were about 25 of us, and we were immediately very afraid of Professor Turnbull. She was incredibly intelligent. She could read Greek like we read English.

“We all were in fear of her, but we had the ultimate respect for her, because it was very obvious she was brilliant.”

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Thu, 05/02/2019 - 8:39am by Erik Shell.
"The Limits of Exactitude"

Università degli Studi di Bari “Aldo Moro”
19th-20th December 2019

Keynote speaker: Prof. Therese Fuhrer (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

Exactitude is the third of the Six Memos for the Next Millennium by Italo Calvino (Cambridge MA, 1988). According to Calvino ‘exactitude’ is a «well-defined and well-calculated plan for the work in question; an evocation of clear, incisive, memorable images [...]; a language as precise as possible both in the choice of words and in the expression of the subtleties of thought and imagination». The aim of Prolepsis’ 4th International Conference is to reflect on Calvino’s definition applying it to the Classical, Late-Antique and Medieval Worlds. This year the conference will be particularly keen on – but not limited to – the following topics:

- Accuratio vel ambiguitas in speech, argumentation and narration.

- Ambiguous, inaccurate and disconcerting communication from the author, and potential reader response.

- Metrical and musical exactitude and its limits.

- Exactitude in treatises (scientific, rhetorical, grammatical).

- Quoting, misquoting and misplacing.

- Accurate and inaccurate titles, and their transmission.

- Limits in the material evidence (manuscripts, papyri, inscriptions, formation of corpora, mise en page, stichometry).

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 05/01/2019 - 1:39pm by Erik Shell.

Destructions, Survival, and Recovery in Ancient Greece

May 16-18 American School of Classical Studies at Athens

Organizers: Sylvian Fachard and Edward M. Harris

From the Trojan War to the sack of Rome by Alaric, from the fall of Constantinople to the bombing of European cities in World War II and now the devastation of Syrian towns lmed by drones, the destruction of cities and the slaughter of civilian populations are among the most dramatic events in world history.

Sources documenting destruction and slaughter in the Greek World are plentiful. The fear of being attacked, ruined or annihilated was so real that almost all poleis increasingly built city-walls to protect their populations and economic assets. In spite of the deterrent potential of forti cations and their real force, however, the ancient historians report that ancient Greek cities continued to be besieged, stormed, “looted,” “destroyed,” “annihilated” and “razed to the ground.” For instance, Herodotus (6.101.3) states that the Persians burned down the sanctuaries of Eretria in 490 BC and took away all its citizens as slaves. According to Livy (45.34.1-6) in 167 BC, the Romans destroyed 70 towns and enslaved 150,000 people in Epeiros, an act of destruction with few parallels in the ancient world.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 05/01/2019 - 12:01pm by Erik Shell.

(From the Cornell Chronicle)

Classics scholar David Mankin, beloved by Cornell students for his inspiring and idiosyncratic teaching style, compassionate mentorship and the signature black sunglasses he wore to class, died April 24 after a brief illness. He was 61.

Mankin, associate professor emeritus of classics, was the longtime instructor of Greek Mythology, a perennially oversubscribed course with an enthusiastic following. Many students described it as one of the most memorable and meaningful courses of their Cornell careers.

He was a scholar of Latin prose and poetry, with publications including commentaries on the “Epodes of Horace” (Cambridge University Press, 1995) and on the concluding book of Cicero’s “On the Orator” (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

“Dave Mankin’s knowledge of Latin authors and scholarship was superb, and he was strongly committed to undergraduate teaching; students took his classes in droves, and recommended them to their friends,” said Hunter R. Rawlings III, Cornell president emeritus and professor emeritus of classics. “In this era of declining enrollments in humanities courses, Dave Mankin countered the trend with remarkable success.”

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Tue, 04/30/2019 - 3:11pm by Erik Shell.

"The Landscape of Rome's Literature"
Seminar at the annual conference of the Association of Literary, Scholars, Critics, and Writers (ALSCW) 
Oct. 3-6, 2019 

The College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA
http://alscw.org/events/annual-conference/alscw-2019-conference/

This call for papers is for the seminar "The Landscape of Rome's Literature," one of many seminars that will occur during the ALSCW 2019 annual conference.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 04/30/2019 - 10:25am by Erik Shell.
"The Roman Republic in the Long Fourth Century"
May 16–18, 2019
Princeton University
111 East Pyne
Princeton, New Jersey (USA)
 
 

"The Roman Republic in the Long Fourth Century" investigates the transformation of the Roman Republic from the sack of Rome in 387 BCE to the war against Carthage in 264 BCE. As has long been recognized, this crucial moment saw the formation of the Republican state's political structures. Less acknowledged is that this political transformation accompanied radical changes in Rome’s society and economy, as well as in the very character of its cultural production. The aim of this conference is to offer a timely reassessment of state formation in this period and to relate this dynamic process to a wider context of change. The result will be a more holistic view, highlighting the period’s significance for our understanding of the Roman Republican history and providing a basis for future study.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Tue, 04/30/2019 - 9:52am by Erik Shell.

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