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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We've put together a list of the special events that will take place at the 2018 Annual Meeting.

Note that, while paper sessions will take place in the Marriott, a large portion of the evening events will be housed in the Westin.

The upcoming December Newsletter from the SCS office will have more information about these and other events at the Annual Meeting.

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(Photo: "_DSC7061" by rhodesj, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 11/22/2017 - 10:39am by Erik Shell.
Advanced Seminar in the Humanities 2018– 2019
Literature and Culture in the Ancient Mediterranean: Greece, Rome, and the Near East

From March 12 to March 23, 2018 Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, in cooperation with Venice International University, will offer an advanced seminar on “Literature and Culture in the Ancient Mediterranean: Greece, Rome and the Near East”.

The Program

The program is conceived as a two year commitment over two successive years (2018 and 2019). The first session (March 12-23, 2018) will consist of lectures by scholars with a seminar approach on the origins and development of literary genres and literacy in Ancient Greece, Rome and the Near East. Some of the lectures will run simultaneously and will be devoted respectively to the interpretation of specific classical and near Eastern texts, with more focus on textual analysis. An evening lecture by an invited speaker special is also under consideration.

The lectures will alternate with a series of site visits, for example, to the Marciana Library, the Library of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, and the Basilica of San Marco.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:35pm by Erik Shell.

CLASSICAL ASSOCIATION OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST (CAPN)
ANNUAL MEETING, MARCH 9-10, 2018
CALL FOR PAPERS

The 48th Annual Meeting of the Classical Association of the Pacific Northwest (CAPN) will take place at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, on March 9-10, 2018. The keynote speaker will be Professor Joy Connolly, Provost of the Graduate Center, CUNY.

Call for Papers: We invite papers on any aspect of the ancient Mediterranean world, including Greece, Rome, Egypt, and the Ancient Near East. We especially seek those that are likely to be of broad interest and seek to make connections among different elements of the ancient world. Such connections may cross traditional disciplinary boundaries (such as archaeology, drama, history, literature, and philosophy) or geographical boundaries (e.g., looking at intersections between Greek society and Roman society) or even temporal boundaries (including receptions of Mediterranean antiquity in later places and times). We also welcome pedagogical papers, especially those that address the instruction of Latin and Greek at the primary, secondary, and university levels. Teachers and students of Classics at any level of instruction (K-12, college, or university) are encouraged to submit abstracts.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:00pm by Erik Shell.
30th International Conference of Philosophy
"POLIS, COSMOPOLIS AND GLOBALISATION"
July 20-26, 2018
Samos, Greece

Call for Abstracts

This conference will bring together philosophers, classicists, researchers and scholars from all areas whose work concerns important issues involving various aspects of globalization, the notion of globalization itself and/or Greek philosophy. The conference aims at providing a platform for in-depth analysis and discussion of the above mentioned themes.

We welcome submissions from a wide range of disciplines, including economy, ontology, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politic, as well as other relevant disciplines and fields. Each paper session will have 20 minutes for presentation followed by Q/A session.

Papers presented at the conference will be eligible for inclusion in a proceedings Volume. We are looking to publish works that explore ideas, concepts, theories and their implications across multiple disciplines and professions that grapple with the relevant problems of our age.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 11/21/2017 - 10:39am by Erik Shell.

Mark Masterson, Senior Lecturer of Classics at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand) and member of the SCS for over 20 years, has been awarded a grant $476,000 from the Marsden Fund administered by Royal Society for his research project, "Revealing Desire between Men in the Byzantine Empire". He will be holder of this grant for three years starting in 2018.  Here is a link to the awards the Royal Society made this year:

https://royalsociety.org.nz/what-we-do/funds-and-opportunities/marsden/awarded-grants/marsden-awards-2017/

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View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Tue, 11/21/2017 - 8:39am by Erik Shell.
Scene from Roman History, depicting a Youth receiving Armor from a Dying Man

The pitfalls facing intermediate Latin students as they move from a basic knowledge of forms and the simplified Latin of textbooks to actually reading Latin are well-known. It’s not just the artful word order or sophisticated grammar of classical texts. As Kenneth Kitchell emphasized in a well-known article (Kitchell 2000), the geographical and cultural knowledge required can baffle even the student well trained in verb forms, case usage, and syntax. Then there is the well-known tendency of students themselves to ignore low-hanging fruit, to spurn the solicitously extended helping hand in the form of commentaries on their Latin texts, notes specifically designed to help them surmount these difficulties. What can be done?

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 11/20/2017 - 8:00pm by Emma Vanderpool.

The SCS Outreach Prize Committee has awarded the 2017 Outreach Prize to Professor Roberta Stewart of Dartmouth College for her work in developing book discussion groups on the Homeric poems with military veterans. Professor Stewart's long-running initiative is now a major collaborative project of Dartmouth College and New Hampshire Humanities, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Award Citation

Even in today's busy, noisy, and self-absorbed world, the passionate, quiet, and selfless work of the individual does not remain unnoticed. We are proud to offer the 2017 SCS Outreach Prize to Roberta Stewart for her tireless pursuit of healing and social justice (in New Hampshire and Vermont) through engaging veterans in reading and discussing Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. By teaching them how to appropriate the two epics as living texts, she has given veterans, as one of them put it, the controlling voice in processing their experiences and their Odyssean stories of homecoming in particular.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Sun, 11/19/2017 - 8:40pm by Helen Cullyer.

Contributed by Professor Jamie Romm, Bard College:

William (Bill) Mullen, professor of classics at Bard College, died suddenly on Nov. 2, 2 days before he would have turned 71.

Bill earned his B.A. degree from Harvard and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.  His doctoral dissertation was titled “Pindar’s Aeginetans,” a study of the odes for Aeginetan victors. Bill published a book on Pindar, "Choreia: Pindar and Dance," (Princeton 1982), in which he made a bold attempt to reimagine the choreography of the danced epinician poems.

Bill was beloved of many students at Bard in the 32 years he taught there, and built the college's Classics program virtually ex nihilo. He came to Bard as associate professor of classics in 1985, after earlier stints at Boston University and St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland.   He was a devotee of oral recitation of ancient verse and participated actively in The Readers of Homer, a nonprofit organization that sponsors audience-participation readings of the Homeric epics. In 2013–14, he served as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the United States Air Force Academy, an honor of which he was particularly proud. 

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Fri, 11/17/2017 - 12:38pm by Helen Cullyer.

This is a reminder that the deadline to fill out the registration form for the Career Networking Event is November 22nd.

This event is only open to those who pre-register for it.

To sign up, fill out this form before the 22nd, and be sure to direct any questions to info@classicalstudies.org

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(Photo: "_DSC7061" by rhodesj, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 11/16/2017 - 8:18am by Erik Shell.
CLEISTHENES WORKSHOP
 
on Ancient Greek Thought and Practices from Homer to Plato
 
April 5th (2 pm) – 6th (5pm), 2018 in Besançon, France.
Scientific Committee : Michel Fartzoff, Karin Mackowiak, Arnaud Macé
Logiques de l'Agir EA 2274 & Institut des sciences et techniques de l'Antiquité EA 4011
 
CALL FOR PAPERS.
 
View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 11/14/2017 - 10:50am by Erik Shell.

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