In Memoriam: Grace Starry West

(Written by David T. West)

Grace Starry West (1946-2019)

Grace Starry West, 72, died of complications from lung cancer on Sunday, May 19 at her home. She was a member of the SCS since 1973, Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee in 1999, and trustee of the Vergilian Society from 1986-1989. Her name will be especially familiar to Vergilians on account of her groundbreaking UCLA dissertation on “Women in Vergil’s Aeneid” (1975), and to students and colleagues from the University of Dallas, where she helped Classics grow into an outstanding program with three tenured faculty members and a steady flow of majors. As John F. Miller, Professor of Classics at the University of Virginia, recently observed: “Her work on Virgilian women was pioneering; her leadership at Dallas admirable.”

GSW wrote most of her dissertation on Vergil as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Heidelberg (1972-1974). Her doctoral research resulted in a series of articles early in her career, most notably “Vergil’s Helpful Sisters: Anna and Juturna in the Aeneid” (Vergilius 25 [1979]: 10-19); “Caeneus and Dido” (TAPA 110 [1980]: 315-324); and “Andromache and Dido” (AJP 104 [1983]: 257-267). Her most widely read work, however, is doubtless 4 Texts on Socrates (Cornell 1984; Revised Edition 1998), containing Plato’s Euthyphro, Apology, & Crito and Aristophanes’ Clouds (co-translated with her husband). This collection remains a popular choice for the college classroom. Soon afterwards she published Bryn Mawr Commentaries on Nepos’s Dion (1985) and Cicero’s Pro Archia (1988).

These commentaries were the outgrowth of her Intermediate Latin courses at the University of Dallas, where she spent most of her career (1975-2011), eventually attaining the rank of Associate Professor of Classics. Early in her time at UD, she was instrumental in growing the Latin side of the program and in galvanizing colleagues to establish Classics as an independent department. While raising four children over the years, GSW taught Greek and Latin at all levels, gave courses in translation on Classical Mythology and Ancient Epic, supervised senior projects in Classics, served as department Chair (1997-2006), and was a tireless and outspoken advocate for the preservation of the Core Curriculum and other mainstays of traditional liberal arts education at UD.

GSW will also be remembered for her support of the greater Classics community in the state of Texas, where she was an active member of the Texas Classical Association and served as President from 1998-2000. Donna Gerard, a longtime friend who taught Latin in public and private schools in Texas, said: “She was always supportive of teaching Latin at all levels. She gave us high school teachers so much help and presented materials at many TCA conferences that were topics she knew could be used at any level. She started the Metroplex Classical Association and hosted it for the DFW area at UD for several years. From that came the impetus to start a reading group to read Latin each month. Several of us still do that.” Likewise, Larry Martin, recent past president of TCA, wrote that “she was an important and supportive mentor for many of us.”

GSW was also a devoted mentor to her students. One young man who was struggling to fulfill an ancient language requirement for his PhD in Political Science at UD recalls: “I would not have gotten through Greek without that woman.” “She was an influential mentor in my life and helped to set me on my current path,” wrote one Classics major from UD who went on to receive her MA from KU and now teaches Latin at a Texas high school. A former student who now works in Washington, D.C. recalled: “She had a firmness and a kindness to her that gave me direction more times than I'd like to count… I got to be her administrative assistant for the UD classics department, and her guest in her home, where I benefited so much from her professorial gatherings that I lucked out with an entire second graduate education… She had a razor sharp, dry wit.” Others concur about her sense of humor: “I took one Latin class with her—I still remember asking her about the upcoming test, and her telling me that it would be fine and I didn’t need to give her ‘that River Tam look’” (for the pop-culturally ignorant, this was apparently an allusion to Firefly). “She was not my official advisor, but she always had time to advise. Her classes were fun, and I enjoyed her humor.”

From 2011, she taught at Hillsdale College, where she was promoted to Professor of Classics in 2016. There, she continued her habit of “switch-hitting,” offering a variety of advanced courses in both languages, such as Aeschylus’ Persians, Euripides’ Bacchae, Sophocles’ Philoctetes, Lucretius, and Catullus’s polymetrics with Caesar’s BG. A note from a recent student reads: “I have greatly enjoyed our Latin class and always look forward to the laughter the class holds… Thanks for all you do for me.” The breadth of her interests continued to show during her Hillsdale years, as she pursued research projects on Vergil’s portraits of Augustus, philosophical connections between the Aeneid and De Officiis, and Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad.

In her later years as a scholar, GSW also turned to classical depictions of tyranny. At a 2003 conference on ancient tyranny at Cardiff University, she delivered a long paper analyzing this theme in Plato’s Republic and Laws, and Xenophon’s Hiero. She also recently finished a student-oriented philological commentary on the Hiero, which will hopefully soon see the light of day, a fitting last testament to her passion for Greek and Latin pedagogy and philological rigor.

She is survived by her beloved husband of forty-five years, Thomas G. West; her sister-in-law Wende; her children Susannah (Peter), David (Alessia), Michael (Mary), and James (Leslie); and seven grandchildren. Uxor, mater, magistra optima, vale! Requiescas in pace.

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

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CAMP Press Release

The SCS’ Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance (CAMP) would like to announce a change in its staged reading for the 2020 meeting in Washington D.C.  Instead of Robert Montgomery Bird’s “the Gladiator,” the committee will instead present Joseph Addison’s “Cato.”  Both plays provoke interesting discussion on the connections between American history and Classical Rome.  “Cato,” which dramatizes the stoic and patriotic Cato’s last stand against a tyrannical Julius Caesar, was quoted and alluded to by the leaders of the American Revolution, and staged by George Washington for his troops at Valley Forge in defiance of a congressional ban on plays.

Both plays and their authors are also rooted in the ideologies of their own times, ideologies which include some racist and colonialist viewpoints.  That these viewpoints have been connected with Classics as an academic field is an important element of both the history of and the contemporary challenges of our discipline.  CAMP believes that by working with and presenting such material, even when (and in fact especially when) it is problematic, we can simultaneously acknowledge the field’s entanglement with historical wrongs, and have fruitful discussions about how we can productively move forward.

View full article. | Posted in Performances on Wed, 11/20/2019 - 8:17am by Erik Shell.

Vergilian Society Call for Proposals to direct June 2021 Symposium in Italy

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 11/19/2019 - 8:54am by Erik Shell.

Today we wish to introduce a new project: Women in Classics: Conversations. This venture consists of a series of interviews with female professors of Classics, many of whom were the first hired or the first to receive tenure at their institutions in the 1970’s and 1980’s. These academic women blazed a new trail as teachers and scholars at a time when university positions in many fields were overwhelmingly held by men. They did so in a discipline that has been described as “one of the most conservative, hierarchical, and patriarchal of academic fields.” Their experiences, as presented in these interviews, provide colorful, candid snapshots of a critical moment in the history of the discipline.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 11/15/2019 - 6:19am by Claire Catenaccio.

Information and an RSVP form for our Career Networking Event at this year's annual meeting are now available.

You can read about this event and sign up here:

https://classicalstudies.org/annual-meeting/2020/151/2020-annual-meeting-career-networking-event

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View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 11/12/2019 - 11:29am by Erik Shell.

What is the interplay between Classics and literary translation? What are the preparatory actions for launching a new journal that will address problems and lacunae within the field? Adrienne K.H. Rose explores the challenges of beginning a translation journal which will address the philosophies, difficulties, and necessity for diversity within the area of classical translation.

Early Latin translators, including Cicero (De optimo genere oratorum iv. 13-v.14), Horace (Ars poetica II.128-44), Quintilian (Institutio Oratoria X.xi 1-11; X.v.1-5), and Jerome (Chronicle 1-2) distinguish between the act of word for word––or literal translation––and literary translation. The latter type of translation prioritizes senses, aesthetics, and rhetorical verve. However, language pedagogy in Classics departments emphasize the first type of translation, word for word, and often stop short of encouraging more literary pursuits. In fact, creative translations that deviate from translationese (a kind of literal, affected translation style from which the reader may deduce the exact parsing of the original word) is actively discouraged.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 11/08/2019 - 6:29am by Adrienne K.H. Rose.

This is a reminder from the SCS Office that members hoping to register at the reduced Early Registration rate for the Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. must do so on or before this Friday, November 8th.

If you find you are unable to register or in need of any help please contact our registration vendor at aia-scs@showcare.com

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View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 11/06/2019 - 10:58am by Erik Shell.

2020 Annual Meeting: Seminars

*Sign up period ending soon!*

For the first time since 2016, the SCS will be holding four seminars at this year’s annual meeting.

Seminars as a rule concentrate on more narrowly focused topics and aim at extensive discussion. In order to allow the time to be spent mainly on discussion, the SCS publishes a notice about the session in advance, and organizers distribute copies of the papers (normally three or four in number) to be discussed to those who request them.  Attendance at a seminar will, if necessary, be limited to the first 25 people who sign up. Seminars are normally three hours in length. Registered meeting attendees may sign up at no additional cost for one or more of these seminars during the month of October.

Third Paper Session, Friday, January 3, 1:45-4:45 PM

State Elite? Senators, Emperors and Roman Political Culture 25BCE-400CE (Seminar)
John Weisweiler, St John's College, University of Cambridge, Organizer

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 11/04/2019 - 10:21am by Erik Shell.

"WARNING: Storm Approaching": Weather, the Environment, and Natural Disasters in the Ancient Mediterranean

24th Annual Classics Graduate Student Colloquium, University of Virginia
March 21, 2020

Keynote Speaker: Clara Bosak-Schroeder (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Scientific, aesthetic, and religious conceptions of weather events appear throughout Classical antiquity, as the Greeks and Romans attempted to make sense of environmental phenomena. Often, these events were explained as expressions of divine wrath or favor. Storms and natural disasters figured as literary devices, for example to delay narrative action or as metaphors for the cyclic nature of human life. Climate, broadly defined, was thought to determine national character, and weather played a critical role in military expeditions. Recently, scholars have made considerable advances in applying principles of bioarchaeology to the study of the ancient world. Hand in hand with these, theorists working with the tools of ecocriticism envision a humanities broader than humans, accounting for the whole natural world.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 11/01/2019 - 2:55pm by Erik Shell.

Modern cinema and Greek tragedy illustrate that few things elicit a fear more profound than parents killing children. Horror movies have often grappled with figures of “monstrous” mothers in particular, from the obsessive, hypochondriac Sonia Kaspbrack in Stephen King's IT (1986), to the lonely, murderous Olivia Crain in Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House (2018). In Greek tragedy, too, mothers are often monsters: women like Medea, Agave or Althaea are all tragic examples of women who have killed their children. In both genres, these gestures of extreme violence are meant to shock and unsettle the audience by pushing back against “normal” familial bonds, bringing into question relationships of gender, the body and motherhood.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 11/01/2019 - 5:16am by Justin Lorenzo Biggi.

The Outreach Prize Committee is delighted to award the 2019 Outreach Prize of the Society for Classical Studies to Dr. Salvador Bartera, Assistant Professor of Classics and Dr. Donna Clevinger, Professor of Communication and Theatre at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi.  For the past five years, Professors Bartera and Clevinger have organized “Classical Week” at MSU, which includes a two-night run of an ancient comedy or tragedy and a colloquium about an aspect of the performance. This joint venture of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and the Shakouls Honors College showcases the interdisciplinarity of the event, in which Dr. Clevinger choreographs and directs the production, Dr. Bartera serves as dramaturge, and both collaborate on the colloquium.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 10/31/2019 - 9:09am by Erik Shell.

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