In Memoriam: Georg Nicolaus Knauer

(From the UPenn website)

G. N. Knauer, 1926–2018

Georg Nicolaus Knauer, Emeritus Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, died on October 28, 2018 in Haverford, PA at the age of 92. His long life and career were distinguished by high scholarly achievement and enriched by extensive travel and many friendships. He was also deeply involved in political controversies that were the result of two tragic events that affected so many Germans of his generation: the rise of National Socialism in their youth and the division of Germany into two separate states in their maturity.

Nico, as his friends knew him, was born in Hamburg on February 26, 1926. In 1944, he was drafted into the Wehrmacht and dispatched to the Eastern front at a time when the German defense against the Red Army of the USSR was starting to collapse. Very soon after his arrival, he was almost killed by a land mine, which destroyed most of his right leg. That he even survived is remarkable enough, but his relentless refusal to let this injury limit his activities is in some ways even more so.

After the war, Nico studied Classics at the University of Hamburg with Ernst Zinn, the classicist who also produced that generation’s standard edition of Rilke’s complete works. Nico earned his PhD in 1952 for a dissertation on Psalm citations in the Confessions of St. Augustine, which laid the methodological foundations of his subsequent work. From 1952 to 1954 he was a fellow at the Institute for the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae in Munich, and then from 1954 to 1974 he taught at the Free University of Berlin, rising through the ranks from Assistent to Professor Ordinarius. He is best known for the book that originated as his 1961 Habilitationsschrift on Vergil’s imitation of Homer in the Aeneid, which was published as Die Aeneis und Homer in1964. During these same years, he was a British Council Scholar at the University of London (1957–1958), Visiting Professor at Yale University (1965–1966), Nelly Wallace Lecturer at Oxford University (1969), and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (1973–1974). In 1975 he moved to Penn, where he remained until his retirement in 1988.Honors continued to accrue: he was in 1978 Visiting Professor at Columbia University, in 1979 a Guggenheim Fellow, in 1984 a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, in 1985 a Resident of the American Academy in Rome, in 1989 a Resident of the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, and in 1991 and 2002 a Guest Researcher of the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel.

At the time of his death, Nico had been working for years on a vast project to catalogue and contextualize commentaries on and translations of the works of Homer from antiquity to the Renaissance. Although he was not able to see the project through to publication, he left it very close to completion, along with a substantial archive of research materials on which it is based.  It will be finished and published posthumously, and he made provisions for this to happen.

No remembrance of Nico Knauer could be complete without mention of his wife, Kezia, with whom he shared his personal and professional life from before their wedding in 1951 until Kezia’s death in 2010. Kezia’s real name was Elfriede, and she used that name officially, e.g. as the author of many scholarly publications; but almost no one called her that, and therein lies a tale. Because she and her twin sister, Sybil, were born while their father was away on a business trip, the babies were not actually named until his return. In the interim, a midwife decided to call them Kezia and Keren-happuch after two of Job’s daughters from his second family (cf. Job 42.14). The name Kezia stuck, because everyone hated Elfriede, with the result that many people were unaware what Kezia’s “real” name was. (According to family lore, during a party to celebrate Nico and Kezia’s wedding, Nico’s father answered a phone call from a well-wisher, which caused him to turn to those assembled and ask, in puzzlement and horror, “Is there anyone here named Elfriede?”) Kezia was a classical archaeologist and art historian who specialized in iconography, but became an expert in an astoundingly wide variety of subjects. Perhaps chief among these was the Silk Road as a vector of culture between East Asia and the ancient Mediterranean basin. One result of this interest was that Nico and Kezia spent decades traveling together, he in search of humanist translations and commentaries on Homer (the bulk of them preserved in unpublished manuscripts in European libraries, large and small), she in pursuit of information about all aspects of trade, religion, art and architecture, and especially textiles, in the Middle East, Central Asia, and East Asia. Together, Nico and Kezia were among the last foreigners to visit freely countries like Afghanistan (where they photographed the now-destroyed Buddhas of Bamyan) between the time when that country’s war with the Soviet Union ended and the current American war against the Taliban and Isis began. When the improbable Karakoram highway between Pakistan and Xinjiang province in China was completed, they were on a bus there a few months later, rolling past washouts at high altitudes. They were genuinely indefatigable.

After more than half a century, Nico’s study of Vergil and Homer remains one of the most frequently cited books in the field of Classics, and it enjoys what will probably be a permanent place in bibliographies of Vergil and Latin literary studies generally. Its success is the more remarkable in that not all agree with its premises and methods, which are extremely positivistic and, as such, somewhat out of synch with contemporary notions of imitative, emulative, and allusive relationships among classical poets. Still, there are few serious students of Vergil who have not profited from this work. Indeed, it has advanced the field by inspiring both adaptive imitation of its methods among sympathetic scholars, and committed opposition, revision, and the adoption of methods based on quite different assumptions on the part of skeptics. In addition, despite an approach that looks back to the nineteenth century rather than forward to the twenty-first, the book is in many ways ahead of its time, not only in its firm commitment to the study of what ae now called intertextual relations as a fundamental and immensely creative component of classical Latin poetics, but also in its anticipation of contemporary reception studies. This is especially evident in its first chapter, which traces the growing familiarity with Homer in the early modern period through the gradual discovery by generations of Vergilian commentators of Homer’s extensive and detailed influence on their poet.

Although Nico’s scholarly vision drove him to take on projects of such scope that they would seem to have left him no time for other pursuits, he was deeply committed to the defense of specific social principles. His youthful experience of National Socialism convinced him that, after the end of World War II, it was of the utmost importance that European and, especially, German society be on the alert against any possible recrudescence of similar pathologies. Understandably, he initially expected that the likeliest threat would be from the political right; but his experience of Cold War realities in a divided Germany, and especially in occupied Berlin, convinced him that there was a more imminent danger from the left. Like many other German professors, he found it impossible to teach in the supercharged ideological atmosphere of the late sixties and early seventies. In response, he became one of the founding members and leaders of the Emergency Organization for a Free University (Notgemeinschaft für eine freie Universität) and the Freedom of Science Federation (Bund Freiheit der Wissenschaft). Ultimately, the volatile political situation caused Nico to move to the U.S. and to leave political action, though not strong political beliefs and opinions, behind.

Nico’s personal habits were ascetic and sybaritic in approximately equal measure. When he was hot on the trail of new evidence or the solution to an old problem, he would work long hours in the library without a break, sustaining himself with nothing but occasional spoonfuls of freeze-dried coffee crystals. When he felt he had the time for a proper lunch, he made it an occasion, usually enjoying the company of just one friend at a time, always with a carafe of white wine within reach. In either mode, even younger colleagues found it challenging to keep up with him. His enthusiasm for work and pleasure were equally great. The dinner parties that he and Kezia hosted from time to time in their high-rise apartment, filled with books and overlooking Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, were memorable events. Nico always cut a dashing figure, with his bow ties (many of them made by Kezia from fabrics collected during their travels), his beret, his scarf (a souvenir from a visiting stint at Corpus Christi College, Oxford), and his silver-handled walking stick. He drove his red VW Golf, specially outfitted to accommodate his injury, like a Formula 1 racer. He especially enjoyed driving in Rome. His Penn students were in awe of both his personal and his intellectual style, recognizing that, through him, they had some contact with scholars like Eduard Fraenkel, Bruno Snell, Otto Skutsch, and many other great names from long ago and far away. He felt keenly the responsibility to pass on what his teachers had given him, insisting that the entire point of our work is to serve “the next generation,” one of his favorite and most often repeated phrases.

Nico Knauer is survived by Dr. Sabine Solf, his close companion during the years since Kezia’s death, a few family members, and many devoted students and colleagues.

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(Photo: "Candle" by Shawn Carpenter, licensed under CC BY 2.0; picture of Georg Knauer used with permission)   

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Please note these important upcoming deadlines:

1. The deadline for submission of the following is 11.59pm EDT, Monday April 8:

  • Panel, seminar, workshop, and roundtable proposals for the 2020 Annual Meeting
  • Affiliated group and organizer-refereed panel reports for the 2020 Annual Meeting
  • Applications for renewed or new charters for affiliated groups
  • Applications for organizer-refereed panels for the 2021 Annual Meeting

2. The deadline for submission of individual abstracts for paper and poster presentations and of short abstracts for lightning talks is 11.59pm EDT, Monday April 15.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 04/08/2019 - 8:26am by Erik Shell.
Teaching Rome at Home:  The Classics in America
A conference at the University of Maryland, College Park
May 2-4, 2019

Thursday, May 2

3:30 PM  Keynote lecture:  “The Lion in the Path:  Classics Meets Modernity”
Hunter R. Rawlings III, Professor and University President Emeritus, Cornell University

5:00 PM  Reception

Friday, May 3

1:00 – 1:50  “The ‘Gender Turn’ in Classics,” Eva Stehle, University of Maryland, Emerita

1:50 – 2:00  Break

2:00 – 3:30  Paper session

2:00  “The Value of Latin in the Liberal Arts Curriculum,” Norman Austin, University of Arizona, Emeritus

2:30  “Vergil’s Aeneid and Twenty-first Century Immigration,” Christopher Nappa, University of Minnesota

3:00  “A Latin Curriculum Set in Africa Proconsularis,” Holly Sypniewski, Millsaps College, Jackson, Mississippi; Kenneth Morrell, Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee; and Lindsay Samson, Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia

3:30 – 4:00  Break

4:00 – 5:00  Workshop:  “Confronting Sexual Violence in the Secondary Latin Classroom,” Danielle Bostick, John Handley High School, Winchester, Virginia

5:00  Reception

Saturday, May 4

10:00 - 12:00  Paper session

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Fri, 04/05/2019 - 9:15am by Erik Shell.

A Day in the Life of A Classicist is a monthly column on the SCS blog, celebrating the working lives of classicists. This month, we look at the life of Classics graduate student Jordan Johansen.  

I typically wake up early, around 5:30 am. I never considered myself a morning person until I got to graduate school, but I got in the habit from taking Greek & Latin survey classes. I found that I couldn’t read Greek and Latin as clearly, efficiently, or quickly late at night, so I started working in the morning. Now that I’m done with surveys, I’ve kept up with the habit. I like that I can get a lot done before I start my day on campus. There are also usually not very many emails coming in that early, so it’s easier to keep from being distracted.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 04/04/2019 - 5:04pm by Jordan Johansen.
NEH Logo

April, 2019

Below is a list of the most recent NEH grantees and their Classically-themed projects. The NEH helps fund a number of SCS initiatives, and their support affects the field of Classics at a national and local level.

Grantees

  • Brenda Longfellow (University of Iowa) - "Women in Public in Ancient Pompeii"
  • Mont Allen (Southern Illinois University) - "Ancient Practices: An Interdisciplinary Minor"
  • Peter Meineck (Aquila Theatre Company Inc.) - "The Warrior Chorus: American Odyssey"
  • Alex Gottesman (Temple University) - "Freedom of Speech in Ancient Athens"
  • Danielle St. Hilaire (Duquesne University) - "The Art of Compassion: Aesthetics, Ethics, and Pity in Early Modern English Literature"
  • Michelle McMahon (American Research Center in Egypt) - "Sharing 7,000 Years of Egyptian Culture with the American Research Center in Egypt's Open Access Conservation Archive"
  • Laura McClure (University of Wisconsin, Madison) - "Reimagining the Chorus: Modern American Poety Hilda Doolittle (known as H.D.) and Greek Tragedy"

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(Photo: "Logo of the United States National Endowment for the Humanities" by National Endowment for the Humanities, public domain, edited to fit thumbnail template)

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 04/04/2019 - 10:52am by Erik Shell.

CFP: 2019 SAGP Annual Meeting

November 16-17, 2019
Christopher Newport University, Newport News, VA
 
Panel Proposal Deadline: May 1
Paper Abstract Deadline: June 1
Submit abstracts and proposals to apreus@binghamton.edu.

All participants must be members of the SAGP. To become a member, fill out the form linked to here and mail it to A. Preus, SAGP Philosophy, Binghamton University, 13902-6000. 

Paper Abstracts

We invite people to submit abstracts on any topic in ancient Greek philosophy, broadly construed. For example:

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 04/02/2019 - 1:50pm by Erik Shell.

On March 15, the Aquila Theatre, in collaboration with SCS and the Onassis Foundation USA, produced a staged reading at BAM of Emily Wilson's translation of the Odyssey. You can read more about the staged reading here.

Congratulations to Aquila on its recently announced NEH grant of $250,000 for The Warrior Chorus: An American Odyssey.  This program will train veterans and scholars in three regional centers across the US to lead audience forums, workshops, and reading groups connected with a staging of Emily Wilson's translation of the Odyssey.

Photo Credit: Odysseus (James Edward Becton) and Penelope (Karen Alvarado), photo by Dan Gorman, 2019, copyright Frago Media LLC

View full article. | Posted in Performances on Tue, 04/02/2019 - 11:20am by Helen Cullyer.
Call For Papers:
“Far from Godliness”: Pollution in the Ancient World
Biennial Classics Graduate Student Conference
 
New York University
November 7-8, 2019

Keynotes: Andrej Petrovic (University of Virginia) and Hunter Gardner (University of South Carolina)

Pollution of many forms was a grave concern in the ancient world. In defining pollution, we take as our starting point Mary Douglas’ conception of pollution as a culturally defined phenomenon involving disorder, taboo, and the “improper” (Purity and Danger, 1966). However, while Douglas’ theoretical framework is a useful heuristic tool for instances of miasmic pollution, our conference is also concerned with the physical contamination of the environment through human activity, especially given its contemporary cultural relevance. Thus, we define pollution as any activity which corrupts or defiles on physical, moral, environmental, and even material levels.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 04/01/2019 - 3:22pm by Erik Shell.

With the generous support of the foundation Patrum Lumen Sustine (PLuS) the Department of Ancient Civilizations of the University of Basel and the Société Internationale des Amis de Cicéron (SIAC) are jointly organising the international conference

Cicero in Basel. Reception Histories from a Humanist City
Basel, 3–5 October 2019

The conference Cicero in Basel aims at charting the presence of the statesman, orator, and philosopher M. Tullius Cicero in the cultural history of Basel, the city located in the border region between Switzer­land, Germany and France. While the study of Classical receptions tends to focus on particular cultural forms and discourses, the scope of the planned conference is programmatically open. Cicero in Basel ex­plores a broad spectrum of engagements with Cicero through the ages: from the manuscript tradition of his works, to Humanist editions and commentaries, up to the political debates and con­tro­versies of today. In this, Cicero in Basel will assess Cicero’s impact on the formation of a specific idea of Humanism in Basel as well as Basel’s role in Cicero’s Nachleben.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 04/01/2019 - 9:18am by Erik Shell.
Feminism & Classics 2020: body/language
 
FemClas 2020, the eighth quadrennial conference of its kind, takes place on May 21–24, 2020, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, at the invitation of the Wake Forest University Department of Classics and Department of Philosophy.  The conference theme is "body/language," broadly construed, and papers on all topics related to feminism, Classics, Philosophy, and related themes are welcome.
 
View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 04/01/2019 - 8:33am by Erik Shell.

The deadline for submission of the following is 11.59pm EDT, April 8:

  • Panel, seminar, workshop, and roundtable proposals for the 2020 Annual Meeting
  • Affiliated group and organizer-refereed panel reports for the 2020 Annual Meeting
  • Applications for renewed or new charters for affiliated groups
  • Applications for organizer-refereed panels for the 2021 Annual Meeting

The deadline for submission of individual abstracts for paper and poster presentations and of short abstracts for lightning talks is 11.59pm EDT, April 15.

Please submit everything via our online Program Submission System.

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

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Sun, 03/31/2019 - 6:05pm by Helen Cullyer.

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