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.”

    

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

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Two pairs of teachers and students. The teacher on the left, seated on an uncushioned stool, plays a flute, his mantle pushed down to his waist. His young pupil stands facing him, wrapped in his mantle. The teacher in the center is seated on a cushion.

Our sixth interview in the Contingent Faculty Series is a virtual conversation between Dr. Theodora B. Kopestonsky and Dr. Stephanie Kimmey. Dr. Stephanie Kimmey recently joined the Department of Classics at Colorado College as a Visiting Assistant Professor. She received her PhD in Art History and Archaeology from the University of Missouri, Columbia in 2017. Stephanie’s research explores the intersection of Greek religion and daily life through everyday objects and ceramics to better understand the individual, personal experiences through the things people leave behind. She has been active in excavations throughout Greece since 2006, working at Nemea, Mycenae, and Aidonia. Before joining Colorado College, Stephanie worked as the Assistant Director of the MU Writing Center.

Theodora B. Kopestonsky: How did you become interested in the field of Classics and, more specifically, what led you to Greek archaeology and field work?

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 10/04/2021 - 10:32am by .

(Resposted from dignitymemorial.com)

Dr. Ashley A. Simone, 33, died September 16, 2021 in Colorado Springs, CO. She was born February 4, 1988 in Colorado Springs to Jeanie Young and Gary Crooks and grew up in Palmer Lake, CO.

Ashley graduated high school from The Classical Academy. She showed exceptional talent in art and an aptitude for Latin at an early age. During her junior high and high school years, Ashley enjoyed riding and showing horses. She also competed in 4-H horse judging and knowledge bowl competitions, and enjoyed many special friends who joined or supported her in those activities.

In 2009, while pursuing her undergraduate degree at Baylor University, Ashley traveled abroad for a semester of study at St. Andrews, Scotland. She spent the following summer in Athens, Greece, where she was an excavator at an archaeological dig.

Ashley completed her Bachelor’s Degree at Baylor, graduating magna cum laude in May of 2011. As a University Scholar, she studied Classics and Great Texts in Baylor’s Honors College and her undergraduate thesis was awarded outstanding distinction.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Wed, 09/29/2021 - 9:21am by Erik Shell.

A Call for 2023 Program Directors

Would you like to direct a tour or workshop for the Vergilian Society in 2023? 

Vergilian Society tours are designed to appeal to a wide range of travelers interested in the ancient Mediterranean.  We welcome college students, high school students, instructors and nonprofessionals.

For 2023, we are particularly interested in tours of the ancient Mediterranean or study programs (such as Latin workshops) that are based at the Villa Vergiliana, a study center in the Bay of Naples, Italy. 

If you have any questions about proposal submissions, please contact the Chair of the Villa Management Committee, John Wonder, at jwwonder@sfsu.edu 

You'll find previous tour details at https://www.vergiliansociety.org/previous-tours/

For those interested, please send a proposal to the Chair of the Villa Management Committee.  The proposal may be a paragraph describing the planned program or a longer version.  The Vergilian Society has offered study programs since 1937, and our directors have enjoyed many rewarding experiences.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 09/28/2021 - 11:30am by Erik Shell.

Symposium Cumanum, 2022

CALL FOR PAPERS

Title: “Dido Unbound: Queen of Carthage before, in, and after Vergil”

Co-Directors: Zara Torlone (Miami University), Giampiero Scafoglio (University of Nice).

Tentative Dates: June 21-25, 2022.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/27/2021 - 1:27pm by Erik Shell.
A large, brown-skinned man, nude with a beard, stands amid a group of smaller men in togas. He is standing on some men and holding others in his hands.

One of the fascinations occupying Classical Studies in North America and Western Europe during the 1980s and 1990s was the way images refract the particularities of societies that produce them. One look at the imaginary of sixth- or fifth-century Athens would provide you a blistering array of human forms: doughty warriors, mourning women, drunken gods; the young and the old, Greek and barbarian. This last pair seemed especially interesting at the twilight of the Cold War.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 09/27/2021 - 9:23am by Christopher Stedman Parmenter.

The following members were elected in the ballot held this Summer. They take office in January 2022, except for the two new members of the Nominating Committee who take office immediately.  Thank you to all SCS members who agreed to stand for election this year.

President-Elect

Matthew Roller

Financial Trustee  

Joseph Farrell
Vice President for Education

Teresa Ramsby

Program Committee

Rosa Andújar

Board of Directors

Young Richard Kim

Nandini Pandey

Nominating Committee

Ronnie Ancona

Pramit Chaudhuri

Goodwin Committee

Rhiannon Ash

Yopie Prins

Professional Ethics Committee

Deborah Beck

James Rives

Referendum items on converting appointed to elected positions on the board: Conversion of all three positions (graduate student member, contingent faculty member, and Equity Advisor) was approved.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 09/23/2021 - 3:59pm by Erik Shell.

SEARCH FOR EDITOR OF THE CLASSICAL OUTLOOK
 
 

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Wed, 09/22/2021 - 10:31am by Erik Shell.

Deadline Extension

We've extended the deadline for the SCS Outreach Prize to September 27, 2021.

The annual Outreach Prize of the Society for Classical Studies (SCS), a prize of $300, recognizes an outstanding project or program by an SCS member or members that makes available and accessible an aspect of classical antiquity to an audience other than Classics scholars or students at their home institutions.

You can send nomination materials to the Executive Director at xd@classicalstudies.org

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Tue, 09/21/2021 - 2:39pm by Erik Shell.

Experiencing Space: Passages from Antiquity to the Middle Ages VIII

Tampere, August 17-19, 2022 (in person/hybrid conference)

The focus of the Passages conference series lies on society and the history of everyday life. This time we are concentrating on the social construction and experiences of space, aiming to understand how it affected social frameworks, built communities and shaped individual lives. The “Spatial Turn” has directed scholars’ interest towards the interconnection between communities, individuals and space, but larger comparisons between eras and cultures are still mainly missing. We aim to approach space as an analytical tool, “experience” offering a novel conceptual method for the study in this field.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 09/21/2021 - 1:07pm by Erik Shell.

Call for Papers:

Horror vacui: Fear of Space in the Ancient World

Biennial Classics Graduate Student Conference

Conducted virtually via Zoom

New York University

November 5th, 2021

Keynote: Amy Russell (Brown University)

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/20/2021 - 4:18pm by Erik Shell.

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