In memoriam: Charles L. Babcock (1924-2012)

Charles Luther Babcock died December 7, 2012 at the age of 88. He was born in Whittier California, May 26, 1924. After attending Whittier Union High School, he enrolled in the University of California—Berkeley in 1941, where he became a member of ROTC. In 1943 he entered the US Army and served in General Patton’s Third Army in the invasion of Germany in 1945. There, as Second Lieutenant, he earned the Bronze Medal for leading his platoon through heavy fire at Neumarkt, assisting the wounded, personally liberating nine POWs and capturing the local civilian leader of the resistance. After the war as Captain he became aide-de-camp to Maj. Gen. John Coulter, who went on to become Deputy Commander of the Fourth Army.

In 1947 Capt. Babcock resumed his studies at Berkeley, where he earned a BA (Phi Beta Kappa) in Latin in 1948 and a PhD in Classics in 1953, with a dissertation on The Dating of the Capitoline Fasti and the Erasure of the Antonii Names, written under Arthur E. Gordon. So began Charles Babcock’s lifelong interest in Latin Epigraphy and the history of the Roman Empire. He continued his pursuit of Roman history and epigraphy at the American Academy in Rome as a Fulbright Scholar and Academy Fellow (1953-55). While sailing to Rome with other Americans heading for the Academy, he met Mary A. Taylor, a graduate student from Bryn Mawr. They were married in 1955 and raised three children.

After two years as Instructor at Cornell University (1955-57), Charles became Assistant Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he remained for nine years (1957-66), being promoted to Associate Professor in 1962. At Penn he discovered his talent for administration, serving in due course as Assistant Dean, Vice-Dean, and Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

He came to The Ohio State University as Professor of Classics and Chair of the department in 1966. In 1968 when the arts and sciences were reorganized into five separate colleges, Charles became the first Dean of the College of Humanities. After one term as dean he returned to teaching, specializing in Latin Epigraphy and literature, especially Horace and Tacitus, while Horace and Augustan Rome became the focus of his papers and publications.

From 1980-88 he served as Chair of the Department of Classics. In 1986 he and his colleague, Stephen Tracy, established a research center for the study of Greek and Latin inscriptions. Subsequently expanded to include paleography, the Center for Epigraphical and Palaeographical Studies, is now the only comprehensive research facility for the study of Greek and Latin inscriptions and manuscripts in the United States.  

At Ohio State Charles  won numerous awards:  the Alfred J. Wright Award "for significant service to organized student activities and for the development of effective student leadership" (1968); The Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award (1982), the first Exemplary Faculty Award in the College of Humanities (1989); and the Distinguished Service Award (1996).          

Charles was also active in many national and regional classical associations. He was Director of the American Philological Association (1968-72); Executive Committee Member (1970-74), President-Elect (1976-77) and President (1977-78) of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South; and Trustee (1967-70), which  awarded him the OVATIO Award of Merit in 1982. He also served as Vice-President (1971-72) and President (1972-73) of the Vergilian Society.

Ever since his original residency at American Academy in Rome Charles maintained a lively interest in that institution. In 1966 he was Professor-in-Charge of the Summer School. In 1986 he was a resident in Classical Studies, and in 1988-89 became Acting Mellon Professor-in-Charge. He also participated in the administration of the Academy. He served as Trustee (1981-83), chaired the Friends of the Library (1985-86), and, after serving as Mellon Professor, chaired the Advisory Council to the School of Classical Studies (1992-94).

Charles was equally involved with the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, familiarly known as the “Centro.”  The Centro was established in 1965 at the instigation of Brooks Otis to provide a study-abroad experience for undergraduates. Charles, with an interest in the project from its inception, became Professor-in-Charge in 1974-75 and then served as Chair of the Managing Committee for the next seven years (1975-82). He continued to recruit students for both the Centro and the American Academy throughout his career and long into retirement.

After retirement in 1992 Charles continued to serve the Ohio State University in various capacities.  The Thompson Memorial Library held a special place in his heart. During the critical time of raising money for its renovation, he co-chaired Campus Campaign, the annual fundraising effort of the university, for two years (2001-02), and then served as President of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Library. He saw his efforts on behalf of the library rewarded with the completion of the $120 million renovation in 2009.


For information on the memorial service, go to http://classics.osu.edu/events/memorial-service-emeritus-professor-charles-luther-babcock.

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A monochromatic stone statue of a man with short hair wrapped in a toga and sitting in a large chair. His right arm is leaning on the back of the chair, and his left hand holds a writing tablet on his lap. The base of the statue reads "SALLVSTIVS"

What do you read for an insurrection? Classics offers plenty of material for revolutionary bibliophiles: compilations for the budding revolutionary, handbooks for coups both successful and failed. The Capitol rioters certainly had their Classics before their eyes, as Curtis Dozier outlined shortly after the event: Caesar and XenophonVergil and Herodotus.

But in January 2021, I was reading Sallust—and an apt choice it was, too. Not because of what Sallust writes — Catiline’s attempt to overthrow the government or Marius’ attempt to change Roman institutions — but because of what he passes over. He was there at the swelling of the atmosphere that led to the burning of the Senate house on January 19th (what is it about Januaries?), 52 bce, during the funeral of Publius Clodius.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 01/05/2022 - 11:20am by Ayelet Haimson Lushkov.
New WCC logo reading WCC 50th, 1972-2022. Beige font on a dusty pink background.

The year was 1971. In the lobby of a hotel in Cincinnati, OH, a small group of early career faculty and graduate students, mostly women, met and decided to form a caucus. Frustrated by the lack of transparency, mentors, and opportunities in Classics both for women in the field and for those who studied women in antiquity, they wanted something different, both for themselves and for future generations. At the next year’s Annual Meeting of the American Philological Association (APA) in Philadelphia, PA, they made it official. The Women’s Classical Caucus (WCC) was born.

By phone, mail, and intermittent gatherings at regional conferences and the APA (now SCS), the founders and early members of this young caucus stayed connected and encouraged each other in its early decades to publish feminist scholarship and introduce to their departments new, revolutionary courses on “women in antiquity,” which received almost immediate backlash.

Fast forward 50 years, and it’s hard to imagine a time when women and feminist scholars were not a strong presence in the profession, whether publishing scholarship through the lens of feminist theory, teaching about ancient women at both the K-12 and university levels, or taking on leadership roles both in the SCS and in their local institutions.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 01/03/2022 - 10:14am by .

Every year at the annual meeting we hold the Career Networking event, a meeting that gives academics access to former classicists, historians, and archeologists who have made career shifts into new fields. They speak candidly about their transition, and are there to offer advice to anyone looking to change career paths. This year we have more networkers than in any year previous, with a broad range of fields and experiences represented.

We will hold our annual Career Networking event at this year's virtual AIA/SCS Annual Meeting on Saturday, January 8th, from 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Please block off time to attend this extraordinarily helpful event. It'll be accessible through the digital meeting platform.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 01/03/2022 - 9:01am by Erik Shell.

The AIA and SCS have made the difficult decision to switch our upcoming 2022 Annual Meeting to a virtual only event.  We had high hopes to once again have an in-person component to our meeting, but the rapid rise in Covid cases due to the Delta and Omicron variants have made that impossible to do safely.  While we are eager to see everyone in-person again, the overall health and safety of our attendees, staff, and hotel and meeting personnel take precedence. 

Since we were already planning to hold our meeting in a hybrid format the transition to a virtual only meeting will not be difficult.  We are using the same platform as last year and all sessions will be available through the virtual meeting platform.  Details on how to access it will be emailed out to all attendees next Monday (January 3).

If you had been planning to attend in person, please contact the Hilton to cancel your reservation.  We will be reaching out to all in-person registrants following the meeting regarding refunds for the difference in registration rates. 

We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy and look forward to seeing you online during our virtual meeting. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 12/29/2021 - 2:17pm by Helen Cullyer.

SCS is pleased to announce the following winners of the 2021 excellence in teaching awards. Please join us in congratulating the winners!

Excellence in Teaching at the K-12 Level

Jessie Craft (Reagan High School, WSFCS school district)

Mathew Olkovikas (Pinkerton Academy)

Margaret Somerville (Friends' Central School)

Excellence in Teaching at the College and University Level

Deborah Beck (University of Texas at Austin)

Richard Ellis (University of California, Los Angeles)

Wilfred Major (Louisiana State University)

Brett Rogers (University of Puget Sound)

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Mon, 12/27/2021 - 9:09am by Helen Cullyer.
Oil painting of a white man sitting in a large chair facing left with a dissatisfied expression. He wears a white toga with red drapery over his left arm, a crown, a gold cuff bracelet, and short curly hair. A tiger sits between his legs.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that humor ages poorly. Jokes tend to be topical, and to be based on the social expectations of a particular group at a particular moment. The deterioration of humor over time is often a matter of changing contexts as well as changing tastes: ideas that once made a coherent joke cease to fit together.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 12/27/2021 - 8:34am by .

Call for Papers

Exemplary Representation(s) of the Past:

New Readings of Valerius Maximus’ Facta et dicta memorabilia

The last thirty years have seen an increase in interest in Valerius Maximus and his Facta et dicta memorabilia. Willing to consider Valerius’ collection of historical exempla as a piece of literature in its own right, scholars have started to scrutinise its moral, social, and intellectual significance at the time of the early Roman Empire and beyond.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 12/23/2021 - 9:24am by Erik Shell.

Since issues pertaining to social media continue to arise, the Society for Classical Studies wishes as a supplement to its earlier statement to caution its members and the members of its various affiliated organizations that they should take great care before making allegations on matters of fact about members of the scholarly community or repeating such assertions in their own media posts. Strong criticism is protected by academic freedom, but falsehood is not. Repeating false information or false rumors, or encouraging false inferences about another person, or about scientific or other factual matters, could hurt the public image and long-term health of our Society and our discipline, and could cause harm—both reputational harm and legal liability—to the original poster and to others. The SCS Statement of Professional Ethics prohibits harassment and intimidation, which can take place on social media, and the Committee on Professional Ethics may review complaints about such harassment.

View full article. | Posted in Public Statements on Tue, 12/21/2021 - 9:13am by Helen Cullyer.
A white woman wearing rectangular glasses, a black mask, and a purple t-shirt holds a white flag. Behind her, a person in a black jacket with a fur-trimmed hood holds a sign. They are outdoors on the sidewalk, and the sky is cloudy.

Our sixth interview in the Contingent Faculty Series is a virtual conversation between Dr. Joshua Nudell and Dr. Aven McMaster.

Joshua Nudell: There is no easy way into this conversation, but, until recently, you were tenured at a university that went through bankruptcy and now you are a contingent faculty member. Without dwelling on the events at Laurentian, how has this transition informed your view of contingency in particular and academia in general?

Aven McMaster: Don’t worry, I’m used to talking about all this! In fact, it’s a reminder of how entwined we tend to be with our jobs.

Before all this happened, I’d already been grappling with the problems of contingency, since my partner has been a sessional lecturer (Canadian term for “adjunct”) for years now. But obviously it has made this issue even more personal. Losing the only job I’ve trained for, after 15 years of full-time employment, certainly has made me doubt a lot of what I thought was stable or certain in this world.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 12/20/2021 - 9:21am by .

The American School of Classical Studies at Athens is pleased to announce its summer seminars for 2022:

Thanatopsis: Greek Funerary Customs Through the Ages (June 6-24, 2022), led by Professor Daniel B. Levine

and

The Northern Aegean: Macedon and Thrace (June 30 - July 18, 2022), led by Professors Amalia Avramidou and Denise Demetriou

For more details see https://www.ascsa.edu.gr/programs/summerseminars

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Mon, 12/20/2021 - 8:37am by Helen Cullyer.

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