Letter from President Mary T. Boatwright

As some of you witnessed personally and all can now read (see, e.g., The Chronicle), the 150th Annual Meeting of the Society for Classical Studies last weekend in San Diego was disgraced by two shocking incidents. One occurred when an independent scholar attending a panel told Princeton Assistant Professor Dan-el Padilla Peralta that he got his job because he is black. The SCS, after consulting internally and in accordance with our annual meeting harassment policy, notified the scholar that she should no longer attend SCS sessions and events in San Diego. In the other incident, the founders of the Sportula, two students of color, were questioned by a hotel staff member about their presence at the conference. We are in contact with the Marriott. We have reached out to the students to express our support. We also understand that the Marriott has contacted them to better understand their experience and apologize.

But these and other immediate responses, such as the Board statement the SCS passed on the meeting’s last day, by themselves can do little to redress the real and deep-seated problems the incidents disclose about not only US society but also about our field. The events reveal fears, resentments, and anger among our members. Dan-el Padilla Peralta makes the case on Medium that our field “lacks the courage to acknowledge its historical and ongoing inability to value scholars from underrepresented groups.” Other colleagues also express despair at the incidents, which resonate with micro-aggressions, and worse, that they themselves have experienced.

We must confront, meet, and remedy the problems so appallingly revealed in San Diego. It is more than ironic that the accusation of preferential job treatment on the basis of race was made at a special Sesquicentennial panel on “The Future of Classics,” and that the two students representing Sportula had received awards from WCC and LCC for advancing equality and diversity. The future of our discipline depends on expansion and inclusion. Just as importantly, the integrity and value of the Society and of all classicists are inseparable from equity and respect for everyone.

The SCS has been working consciously towards expansion and inclusion since the 1970s, if not before, through changes such as anonymous submissions for the program, the creation of committees to safeguard the rights and promote the interests of specific groups of our members, and the establishment of policies against harassment. There is obviously very much more to be done. I am working with the SCS Past President (2018) and President Elect (2020) Joseph Farrell and Sheila Murnaghan, with the SCS Executive Director Dr. Helen Cullyer, and with the Board of Directors. But everyone must work together and we must listen to one another honestly and openly, for the SCS and our discipline to move forward. In the meantime, we deeply regret the insulting events that occurred at the 2019 SCS annual meeting, and we recommit to effecting change in the field.

Sincerely,  

Mary T. Boatwright, President of the SCS, 2019

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Unexpectedly spending a couple of extra days in Chicago this January, as I viewed quiet snowfall against the backdrop of the seasonal lights on the Wrigley Building and watched the gradual freezing of the Chicago River, I found moments of calm to reflect on the state of our APA as I had come to know it during my year as President-Elect. One deceptively simple word seemed to encapsulate the complex process of finding our way forward in this fast-paced world as an organization devoted to the distant past, and that word is service. The APA is a service organization, which has traditionally meant service to those who choose to be members but now increasingly means also service to others, to any and all who wish to participate in our various explorations of the classical world. How to frame the interaction of these two is our current challenge.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 02/26/2014 - 11:00am by Adam Blistein.

The Digital Latin Library (DLL) will be a site on the Internet where people with varying levels of interest and expertise in Latin can find, read, discuss, study, teach, edit, and annotate Latin texts of all eras, whether for personal use or for open-access, peer-reviewed publication by one of the three learned societies affiliated with the project: the American Philological Association (APA), the Medieval Academy of America (MAA), and the Renaissance Society of America (RSA). Similar to a traditional public research library, the DLL will have a catalog, a variety of collections of texts and reference materials, and working space for both individuals and groups. Unlike a research library, it will also provide tools to facilitate the creation and publication of open, born-digital critical editions and other scholarly and pedagogical resources that take full advantage of powerful technologies and techniques such as Linked Open Data (LOD), information visualization, and visual data analysis, opening up new possibilities for the communication of scholarly ideas.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 02/26/2014 - 10:55am by Adam Blistein.

In response to a request by members at the annual business meeting in Chicago last month, the APA Board of Directors has authorized me to publish the tabulation of votes in last summer’s referendum concerning the change of the Association’s name.  As members are aware, it has been the Association’s policy for almost two decades not to publish numerical tabulations when we report election results (although any individual member may request a tabulation from me).  The Board is willing to make an exception in this case because no individual candidate is included in the results below. 

The referendum question asked members to vote on the Board’s recommendation that the Association’s name be changed to the Society for Classical Studies provided that the new name was accompanied by the following subtitle:  “Founded in 1869 as the American Philological Association”.  In last summer’s election a total of 1,305 members cast a ballot on at least one slate.  On the referendum question

603 voted to approve the new name
552 voted to disapprove the new name
137 checked the box to abstain
13 cast no vote at all

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 02/26/2014 - 8:57am by Adam Blistein.

The 2013-2014 Nominating Committee has submitted its report, which includes the slate of candidates for the election to be held this summer.  Members are reminded that it is possible to nominate additional candidates by petition.  Nominations of candidates not proposed by the Nominating Committee shall require the signature of twenty members in good standing (2014 dues must be paid) and must be reported to the Executive Director by April 15, 2014.  A current curriculum vitae of the candidate, who must also be a member in good standing, should be submitted by the same deadline.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 02/25/2014 - 2:33pm by Adam Blistein.

National Public Radio presents a talk by a classics teacher (among other things) with an unusual view of the subjunctive.

http://www.npr.org/2013/12/13/248195238/does-the-subjunctive-have-a-dark-side

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 02/17/2014 - 4:15pm by Adam Blistein.

Greek Myth is one of the standbys of Classics general-education courses at colleges and universities across the United States.  These courses often have high enrollments and are populated by students with little prior knowledge about the ancient Mediterranean world who are taking the course to fulfill a degree requirement.  They may take Myth because of a lifelong interest in the stories (or because they’ve read the Percy Jackson series), they may be inspired to major in Classics by the course, or they may never read or think about Graeco-Roman culture after the term ends.

A common way of teaching the Myth survey course is like a panorama, a wide-angle shot that tries to fit in as much content as possible from a high-altitude perspective.  I took a different approach in my fall 2013 Greek Myth course at Wake Forest University — a closeup, zooming in on one specific ancient myth-cycle in elaborate detail.  Rather than try to cover Graeco-Roman mythology from Chaos to Romulus, encountering tidbits of art and literature from Homer to Ovid, my course focused on just one mythic figure, and students studied every major visual and textual treatment of that figure that survives from the ancient world.

The myth-cycle I selected was Herakles/Hercules.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 02/17/2014 - 12:22pm by T. H. M. Gellar-Goad.

Due to bad weather conditions, the University of Pennsylvania has suspended normal operations for February 13, 2014.  The APA Office will therefore be closed as well.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 02/12/2014 - 8:27pm by Adam Blistein.

In my post last month I referred to the crucial role that study abroad played in my formation as a classicist, and the papers delivered at a panel on study-abroad programs at this year’s annual meeting showed that I am not alone. Those papers (by McGinn, Severy-Hoven, Thakur, Morris, and Romano) spoke eloquently of the profound impact on students of exploring the remains of ancient Greece and Rome and their continuities with the present. It is easy to dismiss the American form of “junior year abroad” as lightweight, but if we allow ourselves a broad perspective on what constitutes worthwhile learning in the humanities—as I argued we should last month—it is clear that study abroad provides unparalleled opportunities for such education.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 02/12/2014 - 4:16pm by Curtis Dozier.

Within the next two weeks we will post a link to the online system we will use this year to receive submissions of abstracts and proposals and reports for review by the APA Program Committee.  Proposals for at-large panels, committee panels, workshops, seminars, and roundtable discussion sessions; reports by organizer-refereed panels and affiliated groups chartered to present sessions in January 2015; and applications for charters for 2016 and beyond will be due on April 25, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. The deadline for submission of individual abstracts will be May 16, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. EDT.  In the interim, see this document describing the materials required for each type of submission.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 02/07/2014 - 3:24pm by Adam Blistein.

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is pleased to announce today a $500,000 grant from the late Ernest L. Pellegri, one of the Foundation's donors, to the University of Maryland's Department of Classics.

Their project entitled, "Between Washington and Ancient Rome: The NIAF Pellegri Program on Roman Antiquity and Its Legacy in America," was selected to receive the NIAF Ernest Pellegri Grant to support the study of Latin, ancient Roman archeology, and ancient Roman civilization; and to offer opportunities for students to study abroad, conduct research, and pursue fellowships in the United States and Italy.

For more, go to http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/umd-study-roman-impact-american-identity.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 02/06/2014 - 1:24pm by Information Architect.

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