In Memoriam: Garrett G. Fagan

In Memoriam: Garrett G. Fagan

(Submitted by Stephen Wheeler, Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, The Pennsylvania State University)

The untimely death two months ago of Garrett George Fagan (January 15, 1963 -- March 11, 2017), the Irish-American ancient historian best known for his social histories of Roman bathing and the spectacles of the Roman arena, is a great loss to the community of classical studies. A long-time member of the SCS and AIA, Garrett contributed unstintingly to the programs of the joint annual meetings and promoted a wider public understanding and appreciation of the ancient world. Fellow ancient historians have been deprived of a resourceful collaborator in research projects; students and lifelong learners, of an inspiring teacher.

Great also is the loss to the Penn State Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies (CAMS) of a highly-valued colleague. With his interests in social and political history, epigraphy, imperial Latin prose, material culture, archaeology, and Assyriology, Garrett played an integral part in a department that embraced the interdisciplinary study of the civilizations of the Ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. During his twenty years of research, teaching, and service at Penn State, CAMS enjoyed a dynamic period of growth in majors, doctoral students, and Education Abroad students. Garrett was especially active in hosting visiting scholars and lecturers for the department and the local chapter of the AIA.

Greatest of all is Garrett's loss to his many friends and to his extended family in State College and Ireland: especially his teenaged sons, George and Emmet; his sister and brother, Linda and Mark, of Dublin; his former spouse, Katherine; and his life-partner of five years, Julia.

The cause of Garrett's death was pancreatic cancer, an aggressive and debilitating disease that evades early detection and is ruthless in its end game. In November 2016, he received the diagnosis that his cancer was late-stage and incurable. Without treatment, he would die in a matter of weeks. Or he could try chemotherapy and see whether he could prolong his life a few months. One can scarcely conceive Garrett's dismay upon hearing his death sentence, but he did not give up hope and was ready to fight the cancer with whatever weapons were available (he even added to his collection of swords a Winchester rifle). For two months, the therapy provided him with brief windows of precious time to spend with his family and friends. But the chemo also ravaged his body, causing extreme fatigue and persistent nosebleeds--adding to the discomfort of the cancer itself. Nevertheless, buoyed by the support of his family and circles of friends at home and from far and wide, Garrett kept defying expectations and reaching new milestones in his radically curtailed calendar: Christmas, New Year's Day, his 54th birthday. At the end of January to everyone's wonderment, he even satisfied the seemingly impossible desire to return to Ireland for two weeks, visiting old friends in Dublin and vacationing for the last time in Galway. When he came back to Pennsylvania, however, he learned that the chemotherapy was no longer working. Garrett commenced hospice care at home. During this time of precipitous decline, he faced the prospect of death with inner calm. He was grateful for the outpouring of sympathy and for the financial contributions in excess of $20K made to the GoFundMe campaign, which his son Emmet started to cover mounting medical costs. He made every effort to collect himself for every visitor and to make the most of his farewells, in spite of his terrible condition. Four months after his diagnosis, Garrett passed away peacefully and with dignity, thanks to palliative care, at home in the hands of his family. All the while, the malignant disease that consumed his vitality could not blot out the remembrance nor diminish the tributes to an extraordinary individual who made the most of his opportunities in life and left a lasting impression on others, both when he was hard at work and when he was the life of the party.

Garrett had a strong sense of his professional calling from his school days. To pursue his ambition, he wended his way from Dublin, Ireland, where he was born and raised, to Canada, Europe, and the U.S., before finally settling down in central Pennsylvania, where he started a family, built his first home, and became a US citizen. His career, which turned out to be more successful than he could have ever imagined, began with an unexpected swerve. It happened the summer he was twelve. As he told the story, his family had made final preparations to move into a new house, but the builders were behind schedule. There was nothing to do but wait the remaining time in makeshift quarters -- rooms conveniently located above his father's dentist office, but in a part of the city Garrett's mother deemed less than salubrious. Maire Fagan placed her Garry under a sort of house arrest to keep him from going outside. She feared that he would get beaten up by the local boys for having the wrong kind of accent. Little did she realize, she was not protecting her son from a bloody nose but giving him the reason to become a classicist. Left to his own devices, and not yet acquainted with video games, Garry spent the summer reading books about the ancient Romans and became taken with the Roman army and gladiators.

The flowering of his classical interests in the summer of 1975 may appear accidental, and perhaps it was, but as Lucretius would say--not an author Garrett was in the habit of quoting (he preferred the epigrams of Martial), nothing comes from nothing. The seeds had already been planted in his first year of Latin at the renowned secondary school Belvedere College, S.J., in Dublin. Belvedere is proud of its commitment to the tradition of a liberal education, which it advertises, with a touch of irony, in a blurb about its Classics program: "when the Jesuits were unable to obtain the services of a lay Catholic teacher to teach the Classics in the 1830s, they took the unusual step of employing a Protestant teacher to do so, so earnestly did they wish to maintain Latin and Ancient Greek." The experience of taking Latin (from Jesuits?) had initially terrified the young Garry, but he quite liked it and took to it. By the end of his summer under his mother's lock and key, he had filled countless copy books with notes and written and illustrated his own history in two booklets, thirty pages each, called The Romans, Volume I and II (source 1, 2, 3, 4). After summer vacation, the teaching staff at Belvedere College became aware of Garry's opus aestivum when he attempted to hand in the booklets instead of a required English essay. His attempt to gain credit for work not done did not quite work out the way he expected. Credit was denied by the English teacher, and subsequently Garry's Latin class received an ominous visit from the headmaster, an event usually associated with punishment for some misbehavior. The headmaster reassured the murmuring class that he was there to award a prize, a prize to recognize a student in the class for excellent work in the Classics. To Garry's astonishment, it was he who received the prize. On his next vacation, his father took him to Rome, a trip that confirmed his calling. They spent two weeks together, getting up at dawn to do all the ancient sites and museums. Garry was blown away and told his father on that trip, "I don't know how it is people make a living at this. But this is what I want to do." Cecil Fagan said, "Sure. I'll support you in that."

Garry went on to Trinity College, Dublin, to earn an honors B.A. (1985) in the areas of Ancient History and Archaeology and Biblical Studies, and qualified for an M.Litt. in Classics (1987) with a thesis on "The Roman Imperial Succession Under the Julian-Claudians" -- a subject that engaged his historical imagination throughout his life and was the focus of his last book project The Political Purge: Origins, Mechanics, and Aftermath, which he was writing under contract for Johns Hopkins Press before he received his diagnosis. At the age of 24, twelve years after the summer spent over his father's offices, Garrett left his patria to enter the Ph.D. program in Roman Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. His supervisor was Richard Talbert, who oversaw the production of a patiently researched dissertation on a hitherto unexplored area: the origins, growth, and social aspects of Roman public bathing. Talbert also facilitated a year's research visit by Garrett to UNC at Chapel Hill, where he made contacts with classicists and ancient historians in the U.S. Garrett completed his McMaster doctorate in 1993 and was appointed a visiting professor at Davidson College (1993-1994). He then received a Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of British Columbia for the year 1995-1996. Penn State offered Garrett a visiting appointment in 1996 and the following year a tenure-track position as an assistant professor. Garrett's promotion to associate professor with tenure came in 2002; he became full professor in 2011 and assumed the title Professor of Ancient History. During his tenure at Penn State, Garrett also spent two years abroad: he held an Alexander-von-Humboldt Fellowship at the University of Cologne (2003-2004) and the Andrew W. Mellon Professor-in-Charge at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies. (2015-2016).

Garrett made and secured his name as a Roman social historian through two substantial and influential monographs: Bathing in Public in the Roman World (University of Michigan Press, 1999; reprinted in a corrected paperback edition in 2002), and The Lure of the Arena: Social Psychology and the Crowd at the Roman Games (Cambridge University Press, 2011).  He also co-authored with Paul Murgatroyd the textbook From Augustus to Nero: An Intermediate Latin Reader (Cambridge University Press, 2006).  Throughout his career, he was active in multiple networks of scholars and profited from working work collaboratively with his contacts at home and abroad. He especially liked being involved in the program of the joint annual meetings of the APA and AIA (in the case of the latter, he was a member and chair of the program committee for a number of years). He had a knack for parleying the joint APA/AIA sessions he proposed and organized into book publications, especially when the annual meeting took place in San Diego every sixth year from 1995 to 2007. In 1995, he made his inaugural splash in San Diego by organizing the joint APA/AIA session, "Roman Baths and Bathing Culture," at which he shared the dais with the most eminent scholars of his subfield and aired material from his dissertation that was destined for publication in his first monograph. Six years later, in 2001, San Diego was again the site for Garrett's next self-organized mega- joint APA/AIA session "Interpreting Roman Spectacles," which was a preliminary to the publication of his second monograph a decade later. Six years later, at the 2007 San Diego meeting, Garrett mounted his third joint APA/AIA session, "New Perspectives in Ancient Warfare," which became the volume of the same title he co-edited with Matthew Trundle for Brill's Ancient Warfare Series (2010). Six years later, in 2013, the APA/AIA did not meet in San Diego, but coasted up to Seattle. For this occasion, Garrett varied his modus operandi: he co-organized with Paul Christesen the APA Outreach Panel "Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World," which was a preview of A Companion to Sport and Spectacle in Greek and Roman Antiquity, edited by Paul Christesen and Donald Kyle (Wiley, 2014), to which he contributed a chapter on gladiatorial combat.

In the annals of the AIA, it will also be remembered that Garrett organized for the 2002 meeting in Philadelphia a workshop on the controversial subject of pseudoarchaeology, in which he gathered archaeological authorities to think about pseudoscience as a social phenomenon. This event resulted in his edited collection of papers Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public (Routledge, 2006). In retrospect, this book turned out to be prescient of the hegemony of alternate facts in a post-truth era.

At the end of 2013, Garrett was invited to be a guest blogger when the APA rebranded itself SCS; his brief was to comment as a classicist on contemporary issues. He wrote three blog-pieces that are still relevant:

·      Bombing Syria and the “Logic of Empire" (11/5/2013)

·      Classics and the "Crisis" in the Humanities (12/12/2013)

·      Climate Change and the End of Civilization(s) (1/27/2014)

Garrett's most recent research project was to co-edit with Werner Riess The Topography of Violence in Classical Antiquity (University of Michigan Press, 2016), for which he wrote two chapters, one on urban violence, the other on the manipulation of space in the arena.  At the time of his death, he was carrying out his duties as co-editor of The Cambridge World History of Violence, taking responsibility for vol. 1: Prehistory and the Ancient World.

Garrett's skills as a public lecturer were always much in demand. He was an expert consultant and on-screen contributor for several television series, including NOVA's "Secret of Lost Empires" and The History Channel's "Rome: Rise and Fall of an Empire." He also recorded 108 video lectures for three series in "The Great Courses" program.  He had also been a national speaker for the AIA since 2007 (and long-standing President of its Central Pennsylvania chapter). Nowhere, however, was he in better form as a presenter of antiquity than at an archaeological site in the Mediterranean. He was a co-founder of Penn State's education abroad program in Rome and a veteran of its Athens program. He also enjoyed accompanying and guiding passengers of Mediterranean cruises on their port calls to the rich remains of classical antiquity.

At Penn State, Garrett taught Latin at all levels (his favorite author was Tacitus), Roman history and civilization, and signature courses such as "Ancient Warfare" in the ancient Mediterranean world, which students filled to capacity. He was also the doctoral supervisor of Andrea Gatzke, whose dissertation "Language and Identity in Roman Anatolia: A Study in the Use and Role of Latin in Asia Minor," was approved in 2013. She accepted a tenure-track position in History at SUNY-New Paltz in the same year.

In sketching the life and achievements of Garrett G. Fagan by way of tribute, I cannot but feel inadequate to the task, knowing how much there was of him that I cannot capture in words.  Some will be better able to assess the significance of his scholarly work that began by extending Roman social history into the bathing complexes described by classical archaeology; and that continued more recently by applying psychological and sociological theory to his historical interpretation of spectacles of violence.  Others will appreciate his gift of making the ancient world more accessible and relevant to the present:

To learn about the people of antiquity is to examine the foundations of how we live today. They are at once alien and familiar, an image of ourselves glimpsed in a distant mirror. (source)

Garrett's scholarship, teaching, and career was never about himself, but about sharing the experience of contemplating the past with colleagues and students. This meant that he did not indulge in obscurantism or "mind-numbing overspecialization," as my Assyriologist-colleague, Gonzalo Rubio, observes elsewhere. Garrett was a breath of fresh air not only in the current academic climate, but also thirty years ago at a time when the air had been sucked out of the room by the last generation of traditionalists. Given Garrett's conviction about recovering the past, one may wonder what image he glimpsed of himself in the distant mirror of the Romans. To judge from his actions in his professional life, he recognized the benefits of hard work (industria) and the importance of mutual trust (fides) in friendship, politics, and battle.  Like the Romans, Garrett also observed the strict division of the day and week into time for business (negotium) and time for play (otium). He managed his day efficiently so that he enjoyed both. What he did or said in his leisure never impinged on what he did or said when he worked. Public and private life were completely separate. The joy of Garrett's life was that his negotium was another kind of otium.  Every day he got up and, with the assent of his father, aptly named after Caecilius, he went to work with the Romans.

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

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Please note the upcoming conference on “Time and Eternity: The Conception of Time in Archaic Greek Literature” (University of Virginia, 22-24 September 2017).

Organizers:
Jenny Strauss Clay (Virginia), jsc2t@virginia.edu; Athanassios Vergados (Newcastle), athanassios.vergados@ncl.ac.uk;Anke Walter (Rostock), anke.walter@uni-rostock.de

For the program, see the conference website:

http://classics.virginia.edu/conference-time-and-eternity-conception-tim...

For inquiries and registration (free), please e-mail mbp3cf@virginia.edu or one of the organizers

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View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Fri, 05/26/2017 - 9:34am by Erik Shell.

The deadline for submission of papers to certain sessions of the annual conference of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA) has been extended to June 26. Papers are still needed for the Classics/Latin, Classics/Greek and Classics/Reception sessions. The conference will be held in Honolulu HI from November 10-12. Please see the website:

http://www.pamla.org/annual-conferences
 

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(Photo: "Handwritten" by A. Birkan, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 05/26/2017 - 9:30am by Erik Shell.

The twenty-first biennial New College Conference on Medieval & Renaissance Studies will take place 8–10 March 2018 in Sarasota, Florida. The program committee invites 250-word abstracts of proposed twenty-minute papers on topics in European and Mediterranean history, literature, art, music and religion from the fourth to the seventeenth centuries. Interdisciplinary work is particularly appropriate to the conference’s broad historical and disciplinary scope. Planned sessions are also welcome. The deadline for all abstracts is 15 September 2017; for submission guidelines or to submit an abstract, please go to http://www.newcollegeconference.org/cfp.

Junior scholars whose abstracts are accepted are encouraged to submit their papers for consideration for the Snyder Prize (named in honor of conference founder Lee Snyder), which carries an honorarium of $400. Further details are available at the conference website.

The Conference is held on the campus of New College of Florida, the honors college of the Florida state system. The college, located on Sarasota Bay, is adjacent to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, which will offer tours arranged for conference participants. Sarasota is noted for its beautiful public beaches, theater, food, art and music. Average temperatures in March are a pleasant high of 77F (25C) and a low of 57F (14C).

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 05/25/2017 - 9:00am by Erik Shell.

Earlier this year SCS President Georgia Nugent issued a Presidential Letter on the Trump administration's budget blueprint that proposed elimination of many educational and cultural agencies including the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The administration's full budget proposal for fiscal year 2018, published yesterday, is in line with the earlier blueprint.  It calls for the shutdown of the NEH and other agencies including the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This is still only a proposal. We can expect a long and contested appropriations process. All those in the US who are concerned about these cuts and eliminations can take action by contacting their representatives in Congress.

You can contact your representatives in the House and Senate in the following ways:

1. Make a phone call directly to Congress: All members of Congress can be reached through the US Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 05/24/2017 - 9:47am by Helen Cullyer.

20th colloquium of the Comité international de paléographie latine on 6-8 September 2017
:  "Scribes and the Presentation of Texts (from Antiquity to ca. 1550)
" at Yale University

Two deadlines are approaching:

First, the blocks of hotel rooms being held at the New Haven Hotel and Courtyard by Marriott will not be available after 15 June 2017 at the reduced room rates.  And please be aware that New Haven is a small city with a limited availability of rooms and little in the way of public transportation.

Secondly, in order to plan for the colloquium, registration will close on 1 August 2017.

For further information on the Colloquium see:

http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/LatinPaleography2017

The conference organizers encourage you to register and to book your room reservations at your earliest convenience if you have not done so already.

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View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Tue, 05/23/2017 - 8:08am by Erik Shell.

Southeast boundary marker of the Tritopatreion

Attic Inscriptions Online (AIO) presents translations of Attic inscriptions alongside cross-references to Greek texts, images, and notes. The website is the creation of Stephen Lambert and is affiliated with the Europeana Eagle Project. As of March 2017, AIO contains over 1,000 inscriptions with the eventual aim to provide translations of the 20,000+ inscriptions originating from Athens and Attica. The majority of the translations are by Lambert himself, with the remaining texts translated by a team of collaborators.

The majority of translations on the site come from the most recent IG II3 publications focusing on laws and decrees from the fourth to the second centuries BCE, with a gradually increasing number of notable inscriptions from the fifth century BCE. At present, there is little coverage of the archaic or imperial periods, although one imagines that this will change as the site continues to grow (information on how inscriptions are prioritized for inclusion can be found in the About section of the site).

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 05/22/2017 - 12:00am by Alan Sheppard.

Topic:  A classical “Wonder Woman” appearing out of her native context to save the day

The backstory of DC Comics’ Wonder Woman is heavily inspired by characters, places, and events from classical mythology.  DC’s Wonder Woman is portrayed as appearing in a variety of different places and times in history, all while maintaining her essential identity as the Amazon Princess Diana.  Entries for this contest should take a “Wonder Woman” from classical history, mythology, or literature and come up with some pretext for setting her in a place and time outside of her native one.  In that new context, this “Wonder Woman” should use her “super” powers/skills that are apparent from her portrayals in the classical world to solve some problem that was confounding the people of her new context.
 
This contest is open to any student enrolled full-time in high school (anywhere in the world) during the current school year. An award of $250.00 will be given to the author of the best entry written in English on the specified theme. The entry may be a short story, a play, a poem, or an original literary work of any other sort.

This contest was established in 1985 by the Department of Classics at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois, to honor Bernice L. Fox, to promote the study of Latin and the Classics in high schools, and to recognize the good work of high school students.

Judging

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Fri, 05/19/2017 - 9:50am by Erik Shell.

In Memoriam: Garrett G. Fagan

(Submitted by Stephen Wheeler, Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, The Pennsylvania State University)

The untimely death two months ago of Garrett George Fagan (January 15, 1963 -- March 11, 2017), the Irish-American ancient historian best known for his social histories of Roman bathing and the spectacles of the Roman arena, is a great loss to the community of classical studies. A long-time member of the SCS and AIA, Garrett contributed unstintingly to the programs of the joint annual meetings and promoted a wider public understanding and appreciation of the ancient world. Fellow ancient historians have been deprived of a resourceful collaborator in research projects; students and lifelong learners, of an inspiring teacher.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Wed, 05/17/2017 - 11:40am by Erik Shell.

Conversational Ancient Greek

The Polis Institute for Classical Languages, under the sponsorship of the Classical Association of Massachusetts and the Department of Classical and Religious Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, will conduct, for the first time, an intensive, three-week course in active ancient Greek this summer.  The lead instructor will be Prof. Christophe Rico of the Polis Institute.

The course will take place at Bridgewater State University (June 11th to the 30th), entailing 90 hours of instruction for $1,400 in tuition.  On-campus housing and meals are available.

Prof. James Dobreff (james.dobreff@umb.edu) should be contacted for more information about the program.

For more, see:  sites.google.com/view/activegreek/

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(Photo: "Empty Boardroom" by Reynermedia, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Tue, 05/16/2017 - 3:09pm by Erik Shell.

"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

CALL FOR ACTORS, DESIGNERS AND OTHER CREATIVE TYPES!

for

The Arsonists (a morality play without a moral)

by Max Frisch

Translated by Alistair Beaton

Fri, Jan 5th, 2018

SCS Annual Meeting, Boston

Directed by Laura & Mike Lippman

This year we will continue the tradition of CAMP sponsored productions with a staged reading of The Arsonists (a morality play without a moral) by Max Frisch, translated by Alistair Beaton.

View full article. | Posted in Performances on Tue, 05/16/2017 - 2:06pm by Erik Shell.

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The deadline for submission of papers to certain sessions of the annual confe
Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings
Please note the upcoming conference on “Time and Eternity: The Conception of
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The twenty-first biennial New College Conference on Medieval & Renaissanc
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Earlier this year SCS President Georgia Nugent issued a

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