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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"Latin is a bit like a zombie: dead but still clamoring to get into our brains. In one discipline, however, Latin just got a bit deader. For at least 400 years, botanists across the globe have relied on Latin as their lingua franca, but the ardor has cooled. Scientists say plants will keep their double-barreled Latin names, but they have decided to drop the requirement that new species be described in the classical language. Instead, they have agreed to allow botanists to use English (other languages need not apply). In their scientific papers, they can still describe a newly found species of plant — or algae or fungi — in Latin if they wish, but most probably won’t."

Read more online at The Washington Post.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sat, 01/21/2012 - 6:23pm by Information Architect.

"A university professorship which has been dormant for more than a decade is to be revived after a £2.4m bequest from the last person to hold the post. Professor Douglas Maurice MacDowell held Glasgow University's Chair of Greek between 1971 and 2001. After his death in 2010, aged 78, Prof MacDowell's will stated his portfolio of stocks and shares be used to re-establish the position. The new Chair of Greek is expected to be in place for September this year." Read more at the BBC online.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 01/19/2012 - 9:54pm by Information Architect.

From the Truman State University Index:

"Despite its small numbers, the classics department remains alive even though their languages are ancient. There are 19 declared classics majors, five of whom will graduate this year, 27 minors and four full-time staff members, said Clifton Kreps, classical and modern language department chair. The Missouri Department of Higher Education reviewed all programs with fewer than 10 graduates a year during Fall 2010. Truman State thus was required to provide a written justification and answer a questionnaire regarding enrollment data for the small number of graduates in classics, along with art history, Russian, German, interdisciplinary studies and bachelors of music. The explanation satisfied the MDHE for the time being, but another review is scheduled for 2014. No further information regarding the format or consequences of the next review has been provided to the University."

Read more here.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 01/16/2012 - 2:48am by Information Architect.

Adam Kirsch reviews Rome: Day One, Rome and Rhetoric, The Romans and Their World, Caligula, Invisible Romans, and Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History in the January 9th issue of The New Yorker. An abstract of the review is available online for free; subscribers have full access.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 01/16/2012 - 2:41am by Information Architect.

"You might not think that a collaboration to study the chemical and physical properties of ancient Attic pottery would have anything to do with space missions, but, well, you'd be mistaken. Earlier this year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded nearly $500,000 to scientists from the Getty Conservation Institute, Stanford's National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) and the Aerospace Corporation to do just that."

Read more at discovery.com.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sun, 01/01/2012 - 7:31pm by Information Architect.

"Emmett L. Bennett Jr., a classicist who played a vital role in deciphering Linear B, the Bronze Age Aegean script that defied solution for more than 50 years after it was unearthed on clay tablets in 1900, died on Dec. 15 in Madison, Wis. He was 93. His daughter Cynthia Bennett confirmed the death. Professor Bennett was considered the father of Mycenaean epigraphy — that is, the intricate art of reading inscriptions from the Mycenaean period, as the slice of the Greek Bronze Age from about 1600 to 1200 B.C. is known. His work, which entailed analysis so minute that he could eventually distinguish the handwritings of many different Bronze Age scribes, helped open a window onto the Mycenaean world."

Read the entire obituary online at The New York Times.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Sun, 01/01/2012 - 4:28pm by .

APA Annual Meeting Session 35 (Saturday, January 7, 11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m., Marriott Grand Ballroom I), is a discussion of the literary, historical, art historical, religious, and political possibilities raised by John Miller's Goodwin Prize-Winning book.  Incoming President-Elect Denis Feeney will be the moderator.  Panelists will briefly summarize their papers but will not read them in their entirety so as to leave more time for discussion.  The papers are therefore posted here.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 12/30/2011 - 4:01pm by Adam Blistein.

To complement her Presidential Panel, “Images for Classicists,” to be held at the 2012 Joint Meeting of the APA/AIA in Philadelphia, Kathleen Coleman has assembled an online resource to help scholars locate and use images in their teaching and research.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 12/26/2011 - 5:59pm by .

 By Kathleen Coleman, President, 2011

As a one-off project in 2011, the year in which the citations for award winners were curtailed for delivery at the annual meeting, the then President, Kathleen Coleman, conducted interviews with the 2010 prize-winners, to give them more prominence than the new format at the annual meeting allowed. The interviews are archived here for their intrinsic value. This site is not part of a series, but simply a unique exercise showcasing the dedication and talent of members of the Classics profession at a specific moment in its history, and memorializing their example.

The citations for the APA award winners are eloquent testimony to their excellence.  But what do the winners themselves think about the job they do and how to do it?  Along the lines of the former “Questions for . . .” column by Deborah Solomons in the New York Times Magazine and its successor, “The interview” by Andrew Goldman, the President set about finding out over the course of the year via Skype.

Click on the links below to read the Q&A for …

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 12/26/2011 - 5:52pm by .

The complete 2012 Annual Meeting Program is now posted. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 12/23/2011 - 6:31pm by Adam Blistein.

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