Letter on the Annual Meeting from Joseph Farrell

January 15, 2018

Dear Members,

Looking back on the recently concluded Annual Meeting, I’m of two minds. For those who took part, I think it was a big success. Newer-format events, like Career Networking and Ancient Maker Spaces, were really lively and well attended, especially by younger members. Georgia Nugent’s presidential panel on the PhD as a launching pad for careers other than college teaching was really inspiring. And the Program Committee’s special session on “Rhetoric: Then and Now” brought our professional responsibility to be political into the spotlight in a way that I feel was both fruitful and long overdue.

The success of these events is all the more impressive because every one of them underwent major changes at the last minute when key participants simply could not make it to Boston because of the weather. Amazingly few sessions were actually cancelled. But if you couldn’t get to Boston, it wasn’t a good convention for you. I’m very sorry for those whose travel plans were thwarted, and I’m extremely grateful to all those got there in spite of the extra effort, expense, and delay that it cost. Frankly, your success in doing so probably saved the convention from being a total disaster.

(Speaking of expense, Helen Cullyer and her staff are working with those who couldn’t get in to mitigate their financial exposure. Everyone affected has now received instructions on requesting refunds.)

Since this is the second Annual Meeting in four years to suffer the impact of extreme winter weather, many members are asking why we continue to meet in early January and in cities like Boston and Chicago. The question is important, and we have to take it seriously. Two events like this in just four years could be coincidental, but in view of all of the other extreme weather events in recent years, you would have to be a climate-change denier to think that this won’t happen again. So the issue is now top priority for the SCS Board of Directors, and I was happy to learn that Jodi Magness, the President of the AIA, is more than willing to work with us.

That said, just what to do is not obvious. Many members already wonder why we don’t meet more often in warm-weather cities, but even at this time of year we do not have our pick of venues; far from it. Next year, at least, we do have San Diego, and we can look forward to celebrating the Society’s Sesquicentennial in a warm climate. Still, another badly timed storm on the east coast or in the midwest might prevent many of us from arriving in time for the start of the conference. So, in addition to the question of where we meet, we also have to raise the question of when.

We have already signed contracts through 2024, and the time to identify venues for the years beyond that — while they are still available — is now. If we moved to a new time of year in 2025, we would have to avoid conflicts with CAMWS, CAAS, and the other Classical organizations, as well as with CAA, AAR-SBL, and other conventions that our members attend. Holidays and teaching schedules also come into play. It would not be easy. These are the reasons why we meet when we do, in the first place, and it is not impossible that we will continue to do so, although something has to be done to mitigate the risk of another Bomb Cyclone or Polar Vortex. Disruptions like that are bad for our members — especially younger members, those with families, those who have no access to research and travel funds, and so on — and they threaten the Society’s financial health while taxing our professional staff, who worked heroically to keep the most recent convention on track, and who are still dealing with a vastly more complicated aftermath than they expected. Thanks to them, as well as to all of you who made it to Boston in spite of everything, the convention was, against the odds, a success, intellectually and socially. And I promise that we will do everything possible to ensure that future events will be even more successful, and that the risk of weather-related disruption will be as small as possible.

Sincerely,

Joseph Farrell

SCS President, 2018

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APA Member, Christopher B. Krebs, Stanford University, has won Phi Beta Kappa's Christian Gauss Award for his work Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus’s Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich.  Phi Beta Kappa has given the Gauss Award since 1950 for books in the field of literary scholarship and criticism. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 03/21/2013 - 2:01pm by Adam Blistein.

The Department of Classics at the University of California Berkeley reports with sadness the death of Charles Murgia.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 03/08/2013 - 7:48pm by Adam Blistein.

There has been a lot of talk in the US recently about the importance of encouraging the study of the so-called STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).  In the UK, the civil service has long been advocating such an emphasis on STEM, although it is revealing that in the US people still tend to focus on whether this or that education is a good “investment” for the individual, whereas in Britain the government agencies are more concerned with which education is best for society as a whole (on “investment” as the wrong metaphor in the first place, see Bob Connor’s recent post).

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 03/06/2013 - 8:40pm by Adam Blistein.

National Latin Teacher Recruitment Week asks as many educators as possible across the nation (and beyond!) to find one day to talk to their students about becoming secondary Latin teachers. NLTRW was created to address the Latin teacher shortage that we are facing in this country. The demand for Latin continues to grow, in great measure due to our own best efforts to raise awareness about the importance and richness of the study of Latin. Now that we have created the demand, it is time to create the teachers.  NLTRW is scheduled for the first full week in March, but if you cannot speak to your students that week due to testing or holidays or whatever, just pick another day of another week. The most important thing is to talk to your students about becoming teachers.  For more information, including ideas, free posters to download, and funding opportunities, point your browser to promotelatin.org and click on the NLTRW link.
 
Ronnie Ancona
APA VP for Education

View full article. | Posted in General Announcements on Wed, 03/06/2013 - 1:25am by .

Deadline: August 31, 2013

With the goal of promoting and encouraging a critical reflection on the permanence of personages, values and perspectives from the ancient and medieval world(s) in western literature and culture, the Research Area "Classical Antiquity: Texts and Contexts" of the Center for Classical Studies, in collaboration with the Center of History, of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon, is organising an international conference on "Violence in the Ancient and Medieval World".

The conference, to be held February 17-19, 2014, aims at bringing together different fields of research to deal with the theme of violence and its multiple interpretations, representations and narratives in the ancient and medieval worlds.

Having in mind this interdisciplinary approach, the international conference "Violence in the Ancient and Medieval World" has the purpose of:

  • approaching the criteria/standards of violence in the historical and literary contexts of Antiquity and the Middle Ages;
  • examining representations and readings of violence in literature and material culture;
  • pondering the ancient and medieval worlds as stages of violence in its various manifestations.

Abstracts

The conference organisers invite paper proposals on the topic "Violence in the Ancient and Medieval World". We welcome abstracts on the following subtopics from all social and human sciences:

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Sat, 03/02/2013 - 7:30pm by .

The Institute for Advance Study School of Historical Studies presents Opportunities for Scholars for 2014-2015.  The Institute is an independent private institution founded in 1930 to create a community of scholars focused on intellectual inquiry, free from teaching and other university obligations.  Classics is one of the School’s principal interests, but the program is open to all fields of historical research.   Scholars from around the world come to the Institute to pursue their own research.  Candidates of any nationality may apply for a single term or a full academic year.  Scholars may apply for a stipend, but those with sabbatical funding, other grants, retirement funding or other means are also invited to apply for a non-stipendiary membership.  The Institute provides access to extensive resources including offices, libraries, subsidized restaurant and housing facilities, and some secretarial services.  Residence in Princeton during term time is required.  The only other obligation of Members is to pursue their own research.  The Ph.D. (or equivalent) and substantial publications are required.  Information and application forms may be found on the School's web site, or contact the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Einstein Dr., Princeton, N.J. 08540 (E-mail address:mzelazny@ias.edu).  Deadline: November 1, 2013.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Fri, 03/01/2013 - 7:04pm by Adam Blistein.

An important “Roundtable of links” on “the value of the Humanities” has just been set up by James Grossman, the Executive Director of the American Historical Association; I urge members to have a look at the range of articles and opinion pieces there.  This is an important initiative at a time when—as Grossman puts it—“politicians and business leaders across the country have sharply attacked humanistic and social science disciplines as not only frivolous (an old charge as pertaining to the humanities) but also a waste of taxpayers’ money and students’ time”.  You can access a variety of papers on this site, including one by APA member Peter Burian.  I am sure you will find much ammunition there for your own debates with students and their parents, with administrators and colleagues in other disciplines.  It is heartening to see such spirited and well-informed advocacy for the intrinsic value and the social importance of the humanistic and social science disciplines.  But we will have to keep making that case.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 02/26/2013 - 7:51pm by Adam Blistein.

From The Baltimore Sun:

Georg H.B. Luck, whose career teaching the classics at the Johns Hopkins University spanned two decades and included studying the role magic and witchcraft played in the theology and world of the ancient Greeks and Romans, died Sunday from complications of cancer at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.

He was 87 and a longtime resident of the city's Poplar Hill neighborhood.

"Georg was a modest man who had great gusto for the things that interested him," said Richard A. Macksey, a noted Baltimore bibliophile and professor of humanities at Hopkins. "He was the kind of person who could interest the general public in what might appear to many to be very dry work. He saw the relationship between theology, witchcraft and magic."

"He was a pioneer in the study of magic and witchcraft in the theology of the ancient Greeks and Romans," said Matthew B. Roller, a professor and former chairman of the classics department at Hopkins. "It was the first serious study and he collected all of the material."

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Sun, 02/24/2013 - 4:45pm by .

Silius Italicus Poetry and Historiography, a Conference at Washington University in St. Louis, March 23rd 2013, 10AM-4:30PM.  After a long and varied career as a lawyer and politician, Silius Italicus devoted his last years to the writing of poetry. During the reign of Domitian (81-96 CE) he composed an extensive epic on the Second Punic War, choosing the third decade of Livy as his main source and Virgil’s Aeneid as the predominant epic model. Silius’ poetic achievements have not met with much approval over the centuries: for many modern scholars, his work has been a classic example of a rather slavish and uninspired form of imitatio. During the last few decades, however, a reappraisal has taken place, and scholars have begun to appreciate the striking originality of Silius’ approach to his topic.

The papers of this conference will focus on an important part of this new appreciation: aspects of Silius’ relationship to the older historiographical and epic tradition that have not previously been appreciated. They will not only provide new insights for specialists, but they will also present a lively introduction both to an author who deserves more scholarly attention and to a literary practice—the mixing of historiography and poetry—that has played an important role from the time of Herodotus until today.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 02/20/2013 - 6:26pm by Adam Blistein.

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