In Memoriam: Eliot Wirshbo

(Written by Donald Lateiner, acknowledging gratefully the help, research, and energy of the following people in compiling this SCS memorial: Natalie Wirshbo, Greg Bucher, Brad Cook, Kerri Hame, Nick Genovese, Robert Eisner, Page duBois, and June Allison. Rosaria Munson and Joe Patwell also offered observations. E. Marianne Gabel captured the photograph below on the left at Le Trou Normand during the 2016 SCS meetings in San Francisco. Natalie Wirshbo provided the photograph on the right)

ELIOT WIRSHBO. 24 January 1948--19 July 2019.

Parents: Nathan and Peggy Wirshbo.

Education: Hunter College BA 1968, University of Pennsylvania PhD 1976.

Positions: San Diego State University 1977-1979, Ohio State University 1979-82, lecturer (eventually tenured) at University of California San Diego, Department of Literature 1982-2019.

Dissertation: "Attitudes toward the past in Homer and Hesiod," 1976, directed by Martin Ostwald.

Publications: “On mistranslating Vergil Aen. 1.203,” CW 73.3 (1979) 177-178.

“Lesbia, a mock hypocorism?” CPh 75.1 (1980) 70-71.

 "The Mekone Scene in the Theogony: Prometheus as Prankster," GRBS 23.2 (1982) 101-110.

“Can emotions be determined from words?” American Behavioral Scientist 33.3 (1990) 287-96.

"On Critically Looking into Snell's Homer," in Nomodeiktes: Greek Studies in Honor of Martin Ostwald, ed. R. Rosen and J. Farrell (Ann Arbor 1993) 467-77.

“Verbal Behavior in the Iliad,” in Kinesis, The Ancient Depiction of Gesture, Motion, and Emotion, Essays in Honor of Donald Lateiner (2015) 219-34.

Eliot Wirshbo was born in a Brooklyn snowstorm and raised in the Bronx. He came to classics accidentally, by a foreign language requirement, but came to love the subject fiercely. His graduate education was interrupted after one year by the military draft (1969-72). He served with valor as a medic for two years in the US Army in Viet Nam. His teaching style was acerbic and intensely personal. He had mixed emotions about publication and was proud of his minimal scholarly output, a page per year of teaching, as he phrased it. Although he never was granted tenure by his department, and enjoyed no leaves, he enjoyed the functional equivalent of tenure at UC San Diego where he both delighted and infuriated students by his unique teaching style, including jokes and meticulous demands (v. infra). They loved or hated his punctilious demand for accuracy. He put tremendous energy into his teaching, although his superiors often limited his courses to elementary language courses and literature courses in translation.  He loved, however, all the teaching he did. His wife Dr. Chris Norris, also a jazz singer, predeceased him in 1998. He is survived by his daughter Natalie whom he raised as a single parent.

An anonymous student’s view found on the WWW: “I took him for the entire lower division sequence, and now again every quarter for the upper division courses. He’s basically the entire reason why I went from taking Latin to fill a GE to also learning Ancient Greek and majoring in Classical Studies. Any class with him is going to be hard (I adore the guy but his exams are torture), but the upper division courses are extremely fun. We’re doing Ovid this quarter and half the time we just talk about whatever odd tangent he goes off on. Sorry, I absolutely buy into the cult of Wirshbo ....”

Kerri Hame, another former student on beginning Greek and Latin with Wirshbo: “He was present, both in and outside the classroom, to educate and to work with students. Eliot also had such a clever sense of humor that I couldn't help but laugh and learn at the same time. He was a reluctant (his word) mentor, but he showed me how to teach Greek and Latin in an effective and engaging way, and I tried to emulate his model when I became a Classics professor. I am so grateful for the gift of knowing him.”

Greg Bucher, another former student, writes: “I flailed away at Greek twice before passing it [when in graduate school]. One summer Eliot and I met weekly in a (I think) Carl’s Junior restaurant near his house so that we could read (are you ready for this) the Cratylus. That was the etymologizer in evidence, and I just said “whatever” since I needed practice with a good reader. That was perhaps the highest brow thing that was ever done in that restaurant. ... I have always loudly proclaimed, most recently on Facebook, that I would never have gone on to graduate school without his example, his demonstration that an academic could be a regular guy, and his support. We were never close enough that he seemed like a father figure to me, and he was too old to be a brother, but he was certainly, from my point of view, a close friend even when we didn’t see each other much. I expressed to him very fully how much I owed him (to his very embarrassed tut-tutting) as a person when we last saw each other in San Francisco. He, for me, was “that teacher”: the one that made the difference. ...“He would talk endlessly about his own life, especially if the story came back to redound against him. He reveled in the title “grammar nazi”, which some student had leveled at him. His indignation over poor teaching of Language could get him going easily.”

A former colleague tactfully observed: “I fear most of my anecdotes of Eliot wouldn't really fit an obituary for SCS and had little to do with Classics. However, he was a naturally inspiring teacher who captivated the 650 students we typically had in the Mythology course.”

Eliot published little by choice. His philological article on emotions in verbal responses, based on his Viet Nam experiences, reflects his skeptical attitude towards the possibility of understanding other people. His Lesbia article reflects his interest in the philology of sex. He gave a well-received lecture in 2017on the topic of hypallage in Vergil’s Aeneid that he hoped to publish. He allegedly was developing at his death a manuscript on “The History of Dawdling”. I am not sure whether this was a joke or real. He preferred the give and take of dialogue and was a regular member of the UCSD Greek and Latin Philosophy Reading Group. Having read Sardonic Smile in manuscript, he suggested that instead of “downward avoidance behavior,” the author should have written “duck.” He scorned those who published so as not to perish, considering most contributions a waste of the teacher’s time and his or her reader’s effort. At the time of his unexpected and untimely death, he was reading and translating Seneca’s letter with a friend. We shall never see the likes of Eliot Wirshbo, because there never will be a “like.” How many classicists keep a regulation-size pommel horse in their living room? He dubbed himself a “walking oxymoron.”

    

---

(Photo: "Candle" by Shawn Carpenter, licensed under CC BY 2.0)   

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The SAGP Board has decided that the 2022 Annual Meeting will again occur via Zoom. This makes it possible to stretch out the time-frame so that we do not have simultaneous panels. We will schedule panels on weekends, Friday through Monday (avoiding Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, since those are the heaviest teaching days for most people). We will schedule starting September 23, and ending November 19, for this round.

Members of the Society are invited to propose Zoom panels. Organizers should specify the topic of the panel, the proposed speakers (with academic affiliation and email address) and tentative title (check with them first!), and preferred date (and an alternate). Some preference for organizers who would be able to host a zoom event themselves.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 05/20/2022 - 8:40am by .

Call for Papers

Sapiens Ubique Civis IX – Szeged 2022

PhD Student and Young Scholar Conference on Classics and the Reception of Antiquity

Szeged, Hungary, August 31–September 2, 2022

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 05/13/2022 - 10:47am by .
Res Difficiles 3 poster with full schedule of speakers

Classical Studies at Boston University and Classics, BU Center for the Humanities, Philosophy, & Religious Studies at the University of Mary Washington present Res Difficiles: A Conference On Challenges and Pathways for Addressing Inequity In Classics. 

When: May 20, 2022 , 9:00am - 4:00pm Eastern

Where: Live-streamed via Zoom. Registration now open

Dr. Kelly Nguyen (Stanford University) will deliver the keynote address, "(Be)Longing and (Re)Orienting In and Beyond the Classics Classroom"

The event will be live-captioned. Participants/viewers may live-tweet the event on the hashtag #ResDiff3.

You can find more information about the speakers and read the full program at https://resdifficiles.com/

Any questions can be directed to the co-organizers: Hannah Čulík-Baird and Joseph Romero.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 05/11/2022 - 8:57pm by Helen Cullyer.
blue lecture poster, Earthquakes and the Structuring of Greco-Roman Society: the longue durée of human-geological environment relationships in Helike, Greece

On Thursday, May 12 at 6 pm ET, the AIA’s Student Affairs Interest Group (SAIG) and SCS’s Graduate Student Committee (GSC) will hold the 2022 SAIG/GSC Dissertation Lecture! This annual talk is a collaborative effort intended to highlight the work of a senior doctoral candidate whose research features interdisciplinary work between the fields of archaeology and Classical philology, and to support the student networks between these related fields.

Amanda Gaggioli, doctoral candidate at Stanford University and second SAIG/GSC Dissertation Lecturer, will present “Earthquakes and the Structuring of Greco-Roman Society: the longue durée of human-geological environment relationships in Helike, Greece.” This virtual talk integrates data from archaeology, history, and ancient languages with those from environmental sciences to discuss how earthquakes and other geological hazards affected human-ecological interactions in the ancient world. Full details are available below.
 

Earthquakes and the Structuring of Greco-Roman Society: the longue durée of human-geological environment relationships in Helike, Greece

Amanda Gaggioli, PhD Candidate, Department of Classics | Stanford Archaeology Center, Stanford University

May 12, 2022 | 6pm EST via Zoom

Registration is required at the following link:

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 05/09/2022 - 9:13pm by Helen Cullyer.

The Classics Program at Hunter College is pleased to announce the 84th Josephine Earle Memorial Lecture on Friday, May 13, at 5pm. The lecture is taking place virtually over Zoom. Pre-registration is required at the link below. The event will begin with a ceremony for student award ceremony and a celebration of recent graduates from Classics. The lecture will follow.

84th Josephine Earle Memorial Lecture

Friday, May 13, 5-7pm

"Aesthetic Hierarchies in Greek Comedy"

Ralph Rosen, Professor of Classical Studies (University of Pennsylvania)

Register at this link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0tcOCprD8sHNN9TMpKixBXOiljw9H3zrag

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Fri, 05/06/2022 - 9:07am by .

(Dedicated to the 30th Anniversary of Greece-Georgia Diplomatic Relations)

The Institute of Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (Georgia) is pleased to announce the Call for Papers of the International Student Conference “Contemporaneity of Antiquity” to be held in hybrid mode (via ZOOM and face-to-face) on June 6-8, 2022.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 04/28/2022 - 9:36am by .
"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Theater in Greece and Rome (TIGR), a committee affiliated with The Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS), invites proposals for a workshop to be held under TIGR’s sponsorship at the 119th CAMWS Annual Meeting, March 29-April 1, 2023 in Provo, Utah, at the Provo Marriot Hotel and Conference Center at the invitation of The Utah Classical Association.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 04/26/2022 - 12:16pm by Helen Cullyer.
"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Anne Carson’s Euripides: Six Takes on The Trojan Women (2021) and H of H (2021)

When: 11am-1pm CDT, Friday, April 29th, 2022

Where: Virtual (Zoom)

An online event organized by Laura Jansen (Bristol), Sarah Nooter (Chicago) and Mario Telò (Berkeley)

View full article. | Posted in Performances on Fri, 04/22/2022 - 10:01am by .

Third Annual Conference: Temple/Carleton Consortium on Women, Marriage and the Household from Antiquity to the Present: An Interdisciplinary, Global Conference 

WOMEN AND RITUAL ACTS

When: May 12-14, 2022

Where: Temple University Rome: Lungotevere Arnaldo da Brescia, 15 and Virtual participation available via Zoom

Co-DirectorsKaren Klaiber Hersch and Jaclyn Neel

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 04/20/2022 - 10:44am by .

Call for Applications: Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection
Hellenic (formerly Library) Research Fellowship Program 2022-2023

**Contingent on continued on-campus operations during 2022-2023 academic year**

Thanks to generous ongoing funding from the Elios Charitable Foundation, the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Foundation, and the Tarbell Family Foundation, the University Library is pleased to offer the continuation of the Hellenic (formerly Library) Research Fellowship Program (HRFP) for a 10th year. The name change is intended to better convey and reflect the focus of the program. The Program supports the use of the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection by fellows for scholarly research in Hellenic studies while in residence in Sacramento, CA.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Wed, 04/20/2022 - 10:01am by .

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