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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This is a reminder for upcoming deadlines for SCS Awards and Prizes. Follow the linked URLs for more information on the nomination materials and the prizes themselves.

Excellence in the Teaching of Classics at the College Level: June 1, 2018

SCS Outreach Prize: September 14, 2018

Excellence in Teaching at the Precollegiate Level: October 2, 2018

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(Photo: "library" by Viva Vivanista, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Mon, 05/07/2018 - 12:31pm by Erik Shell.
Composite RGB image of manuscript E3, Escorialensis 291 (Υ.i.1): overview of folio 32 recto Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Homer Multitext (HMT) has something in common with the poetry it documents: They are both monumental and impressive works whose gradual evolution over many years by many hands has left traces of its past; it exists in several forms that present the same information in slightly different ways, and its development through changing technologies has left occasional redundancies. Like the Iliad, it lives up to its title, but perhaps not in the way one expects. And like its poetic source text, it richly rewards those who plumb its depths.

View full article. | Posted in on Sun, 05/06/2018 - 1:02pm by Bill Beck.

The Classical Association of the Middle West and South recently put out a call for action concerning the proposed discontinuation of the Classics program at the University of Montana.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Fri, 05/04/2018 - 10:00am by Erik Shell.
Portrait of an elderly Roman matron (40-20 BCE, Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, CC0 License).

I am a professional hairdresser with a BA degree in Drama. My only other significant job experience was a brief career in Academic Computer Database Administration in the 1980s, managing the Dartmouth Dante Project. I have no formal training in Archaeology or Classics, except for my dismal performance in high school Latin — but somehow this didn’t prevent me from becoming the authority on technical recreation of ancient Roman hairstyles.

I am a textbook case of doing things backwards: my topic found me. A chance encounter with a statue of Julia Domna at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore where I live, set me on the path of scholarship. The Walters had set this portrait out in the middle of the room where I could see the back of her head. At first I saw just a pretty updo I could sell to brides. But I failed completely when I tried to recreate it using modern, U-shaped wire hairpins. As I searched for information about how these styles were constructed, I found my professional hairdressing expertise at odds with canonical explanations of ancient Roman hairstyles—they all agreed that they were impossible without wigs and false hair.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 05/02/2018 - 4:26pm by Janet Stephens.

The deadline for members to volunteer for SCS committees and leadership positions is today, May 2nd.

These positions include many current SCS committees including the curriculum and preparation for a variety of teaching, research, and other careers. Descriptions of various positions and offices can be found here.

To volunteer, you can fill out the form linked on the Members Only page of our website. You must log in to the site to access this page. Appointed committee members will begin their terms in 2019.  Most elected offices will begin in 2020. 

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

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 05/02/2018 - 9:55am by Erik Shell.

Ἀρχή and origo: The Power of Origins

(Newcastle University, 2-4 May, 2019)

Origins have a particular power. Arguments referring back to the first beginnings and relating them to the present tend to be especially attractive. When we’re in a new place or confronted with new phenomena, we have a natural urge to learn about their origins. Stories of this kind – the so-called aitia – can convey a sense of education, of venerable antiquity, of continuity, of religious awe, or they can just be entertaining. In any case, they are as prominent nowadays as they were in antiquity.  

In this interdisciplinary conference we want to shed light on the fascination with origins from different perspectives: how is the power of origins employed in historiography, in literature ancient and modern, in art, in religious contexts, in philosophy, or in political debate? We are interested in exploring a wide range of case studies, in order to reflect on our overarching question: what is it that holds the different forms of aitia together? How can we understand this phenomenon in general terms? What is it that makes the origin such a fascinating and powerful form of discourse? 

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 04/30/2018 - 2:33pm by Erik Shell.

The Classics Graduate Forum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is seeking papers for a graduate colloquium entitled “Constructing Identity in the Ancient World.” The colloquium will take place on October 26-27, 2018 and will feature a keynote address by Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer (University of Chicago). Submissions from all disciplines and approaches are encouraged, and we invite you to pass the attached Call for Papers along to all graduate students and departments that may be interested.

Abstract submissions are due June 1, 2018 and should be submitted to uwclassics.colloquium@gmail.com (see the CfP for guidelines). Any questions can be directed to the same email address or to amy.hendricks@wisc.edu.

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View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 04/30/2018 - 12:27pm by Erik Shell.
3rd c. CE Palmyrene Funerary Inscription and Bust from the Princeton Museum of Art (Photo by Sarah E. Bond).

How can digital humanities projects within the field of Classics preserve and allow public access to endangered materials? The Wisconsin Palmyrene Aramaic Inscription Project (WPAIP) is already addressing theses question head-on. WPAIP is a digital humanities project housed at the Digital Collections of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and established by Jeremy M. Hutton. Similar to the Palmyra Portrait Project of Aarhus University in Denmark, which works to collate and digitize Palmyrene portraiture, the primary goal of WPAIP is to collate and digitize Palmyrene Aramaic inscriptions. This allows researchers to then analyze the language of Palmyrene Aramaic, the development and variations of its script, and other features.

Though these inscriptions are usually from the ancient city of Palmyra, they can also be found throughout the ancient Roman world, including Roman Britain and in the city of Rome itself. In fact, some feature bilingual and trilingual inscriptions with Latin and Greek texts that range from funerary inscriptions to dedicatory altars.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 04/27/2018 - 7:37am by Catherine Bonesho.

“Constructing Identity in the Ancient World”

Madison, WI: October 26-27, 2018

8th Annual Graduate Colloquium

Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies

Keynote presentation by

Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer

Helen A. Regenstein Distinguished Service Professor of Classics and the Program in Gender Studies

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 04/25/2018 - 11:55am by Helen Cullyer.

Nominations for the SCS Awards for Excellence in the Teaching of Classics at the College Level are due on June 1, 2018.  Nominate an excellent teacher today!  You can find more information about the award and nomination process here.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Tue, 04/24/2018 - 9:49am by Helen Cullyer.

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