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.

“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.”

    



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

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Classical Representations in Popular Culture

Southwest Popular / American Culture Association (SWPACA)

Area Chair: Benjamin S. Haller (bhaller@vwu.edu)

41st Annual Conference, February 19-22, 2020
Hyatt Regency Hotel & Conference Center
Albuquerque, New Mexico

http://www.southwestpca.org

Proposal submission deadline: October 31, 2019

Proposals for papers and panels are now being accepted for the 41st annual SWPACA conference.  One of the nation’s largest interdisciplinary academic conferences, SWPACA offers nearly 70 subject areas, each typically featuring multiple panels.  For a full list of subject areas, area descriptions, and Area Chairs, please visit http://southwestpca.org/conference/call-for-papers/

Classical Representations in Popular Culture

Papers on any aspect of Greek, Roman, or Mediterranean antiquity in contemporary or popular culture are eligible for consideration.

Classical Representations welcomes submissions on a broader range of topics including:

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 07/19/2019 - 1:29pm by Erik Shell.

Call for Lightning Papers: Classics and Civic Activism

Joint AIA/SCS workshop, January 2–5, 2020, Washington, D.C.

Organizers: Yurie Hong (Gustavus Adolphus College), Marina Haworth (North Hennepin Community College), Amit Shilo (UC, Santa Barbara), T. H. M. Gellar-Goad (Wake Forest University)

Classicists at all levels have knowledge, experience, skills, and contacts that can usefully contribute to civic activism outside of academia proper.  The Classics & Social Justice Affiliated Group has organized a workshop on the subject of Classics and Civic Activism for the upcoming AIA/SCS meeting. We invite proposals for a lightning round on outward-facing activism in which presenters will spend 3 minutes sharing their own experiences and making recommendations. These presentations will become integral to discussions among participants during the following breakout sessions.

The lightning round is the second of three parts of the workshop:

1) Three featured presenters from Indivisible, the National Humanities Alliance, and the American Federation of Teachers will offer guidance in community organizing, engaging with representatives, and other advocacy work, specifically focusing on how academics and educators can combine their skills and expertise with activism.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 07/19/2019 - 8:25am by Erik Shell.

The United States was more than a century old before it saw its first play staged in Latin. What follows is a story about its producers’ struggle for recognition and the external factors that doomed it to obscurity. Beyond a footnote in theatrical history, the 1877 production of a Jesuit Latin play at Boston College offers a glimpse into the fraught politics of education in the United States in the late 19th century, the origins of the modern college elective, and a form of Classical curriculum that might have been—if an ugly fight in Boston had turned out differently.

In April of 1894, Harvard’s production of its first Latin play had set Boston buzzing. The event  even rated a couple columns in the New York Times, which remarked:

Latin plays have been given in this country and in England, but never with the careful study of detail bestowed upon the Phormio of Terence, to be produced by Harvard students in Sanders Theatre this week… Educators from all parts of the country are expected to witness the production.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 07/18/2019 - 4:24pm by Christopher Polt.

Seneca 2020. International Conference

What more can we say about Seneca?

The Centre for Classical Studies of the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon is organizing an International Conference on Seneca to promote and encourage a critical reflection on the permanence of themes, values, perspectives and representations of Seneca’s works in Western literature and culture.

The Conference will take place between 14-17 December 2020, and, through the interdisciplinary debate of the contribution given by the experiences of researchers from different fields of study, it aims:

- to think of how Seneca became one of the most prominent figures in Western culture;

- to consider, examine and reflect on our current knowledge about Seneca, his life and works;

- to explore new study angles and what remains to be said about Seneca in the Twenty-First Century, in light of the renewed interest shown in his works.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers

António Pedro Mesquita (University of Lisbon)

Alessandro Schiesaro (University of Manchester)

Catharine Edwards (University of Cambridge)

Gareth David Williams (Columbia University)

Chiara Torre (University of Milan)

Jesús Luque Moreno (University of Granada)

José Pedro Serra (University of Lisbon)

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 07/18/2019 - 2:54pm by Erik Shell.

“Performing Texts”
Network for the Study of Archaic and Classical Greek Song
6th Open Conference, July 1-5, 2020, Spetses, Greece

 

Gregory Nagy (Classics, Harvard University) announces the 6th Open Conference, which is organized by Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC (CHS DC) on behalf of the Network for the Study of Archaic and Classical Greek Song. The organization of the Conference will be administratively and logistically supported by Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Greece (CHS Greece).

The conference will take place on the island of Spetses in Greece from July 1 to July 5, 2020. The topic of the conference is "Performing Texts."

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 07/18/2019 - 11:03am by Erik Shell.

Justin Slocum Bailey will give a two-day series of workshops, BRINGING LATIN TO LIFE IN THE CLASSROOM, in Syracuse on Sept. 20-21, hosted by SU and generously supported by Binghamton University, Le Moyne College, The Humanities Corridor (and others).

Justin will help explore new and interactive techniques of Latin instruction. His pedagogy has proved to be very fruitful on all levels of Latin language classrooms (high school, college, etc.). Please consider attending and help spread the word.

Registration is $40 for one day, $75 for both: this will help cover a at least the lunches and refreshments. Students can attend for free. If the fee is an impediment to participation, we can offer a reduction.

Tina Chronopoulos (tchronop@binghamton.edu) and I will be happy to learn if you want to attend and to hear any suggestions.

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View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 07/17/2019 - 10:20am by Erik Shell.
Phoenicians, Philistines, and Canaanites: The Levant and the Classical World (Villa)
2020/2021

The Getty Scholars Program at the Villa for the 2020/2021 term will focus on the ancient cultures of the Levant and their relations with the classical world. Lying on the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean, the Levant was a crucial crossroads between the classical world of Greece and Rome and the kingdoms of the Near East. Home to the ancient peoples of Phoenicia, Ugarit, Canaan, Philistia, Jordan, Israel, and Judah, this region participated in a vibrant Bronze-Age network of trade that flourished for many centuries until a combination of warfare, migration and famine around 1200 BCE destroyed these palace societies.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Wed, 07/17/2019 - 9:38am by Erik Shell.

Central: February 26-29, 2020, Palmer House Hilton Chicago

Pacific: April 8-11, 2020, Westin St Francis, San Francisco
 

This is a call for submissions of papers to be presented to the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy.

The Deadline for Submission of papers is August 1.

a) To have your paper considered, you need to be a member of the Society for 2019/20 - a form is attached, and it needs to come back via regular mail, not as an attachment!

b) You should submit your paper as an attachment to an email addressed to apreus@binghamton.edu. Your email message is your cover letter; it should include your name, address, academic affiliation (as of 2019/20), and the title of the paper. Note if you would prefer the Central or Pacific Division, or either! The paper itself should be prepared for blind (anonymous) review, and IT MUST BE IN DOC, DOCX, OR RTF FORMAT! NOT PDF! Papers may include "real Greek" if it is in a Unicode font.

The Program Committee has decided that authors who had a paper accepted by the Society for presentation at a meeting of the American Philosophical Association or the Society for Classical Studies during the past year should not be considered.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 07/17/2019 - 9:25am by Erik Shell.
Yearly maintenance on the Placement Service is now complete. There will be a Newsletter later this month detailing the final jobs report and the changes made to the service over these past two weeks.
 
Anyone hoping to receive job announcements and other benefits of the AIA/SCS Placement Service will need to sign up for this new academic year. Here is a tutorial on how to do so: https://youtu.be/zr7gTIUdqiQ. The price will remain free for AIA and SCS members, and will continue to be $55 for non-members.
 
We are also excited to announce our newest publication: "Careers for Classicists: Graduate Student Edition." Building on the last version, which was published in 2012, this guide provides updated, modernized, and detailed advice for graduate students seeking jobs both inside and outside the classroom.
 
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View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 07/16/2019 - 10:53am by Erik Shell.

Learn about our affiliated groups, old and new!

In June the SCS Program Committee chartered three groups that are already doing great work. SCS is delighted to welcome them as affiliates:

Look out for their events at the 2020 Annual Meeting.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 07/12/2019 - 2:58pm by Helen Cullyer.

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