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.

---

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

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Given the rapidly changing situation in the present moment, a conference in January 2021 looks a long way off. But planning for our 152nd annual meeting in Chicago has already begun, and it will intensify in the months between now and then. Indeed we are making both plans and contingency plans, because the SCS will hold its annual meeting in some form. It may resemble past meetings, or it may involve remote participation; it is impossible to predict what circumstances will require. But the process of compiling the academic portion of the program will proceed (almost) as usual, with a (remote) Program Committee meeting in June in which the committee discusses the abstracts and proposals submitted through the online submission system. Only after the panels and papers have been selected and arranged can planning begin for the rest of the program: the committee meetings, the business meetings for affiliated groups, the interviews, the receptions, and all of the other meeting events

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 04/07/2020 - 2:42pm by Helen Cullyer.

In his history of the long and costly war between Athens and Sparta, the historian Thucydides explained that he had written his narrative to be “a possession for all time” and to be of assistance to those of future generations “who want to see things clearly as they were and, given human nature, as they will one day be again, more or less."1 Thucydides was a shrewd observer and analyst of human behavior, and his work has frequently been cited in times of crisis by those who see patterns in history.  At the famous ceremony dedicating the battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg in 1863 at which Lincoln also spoke, former Secretary of State Edward Everett delivered a eulogy

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 04/03/2020 - 8:10am by .

As we all contend with the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 Coronavirus, I want to start by highlighting a gratifying fact: the indispensable expert and voice of reason, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, majored in Classics as an undergraduate at Holy Cross!  This is a timely and inspiring reminder that Classics majors go on to distinguish themselves in many different careers and to perform many kinds of vital service.

I also want to emphasize that, despite the ongoing crisis, the SCS is fully up-and-running. Our three fulltime staff members, Helen Cullyer, Cherane Ali, and Erik Shell, have made a seamless transition to working remotely, thanks to careful advance planning on their part. They are maintaining regular business hours even as they work remotely, and are available to help our members however they can.

View full article. | Posted in Presidential Letters on Sun, 03/29/2020 - 2:22pm by Helen Cullyer.

­­The Classics Everywhere initiative, launched by the SCS in 2019, supports projects that seek to engage communities worldwide with the study of Greek and Roman antiquity in new and meaningful ways. As part of this initiative the SCS has been funding a variety of projects ranging from reading groups comparing ancient to modern leadership practices to collaborations with artists in theater, music, and dance. In this post we focus on projects that bring creativity and science into the Classics classrooms of secondary schools from California to Louisiana, New Jersey, and New York.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 03/27/2020 - 6:25am by .

The SCS Board of Directors has endorsed a statement by the American Sociological Association on faculty review and reappointment during COVID-19.

Read the statement and full list of signatories at this link

https://www.asanet.org/news-events/asa-news/asa-statement-regarding-faculty-review-and-reappointment-processes-during-covid-19-crisis

View full article. | Posted in Public Statements on Mon, 03/23/2020 - 4:26pm by Helen Cullyer.

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View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 03/20/2020 - 8:43am by Sarah E. Bond.

Please see the following on access to digital resources during COVID-19:

1. The digital Classical Loeb Library recently announced that it is making its subscription free to all schools and universities affected by COVID-19 until June 30, 2020. Librarians should email loebclassics_sales@harvard.edu for more details. In addition, SCS members can access the library for free until June 30, 2020 via the For Members Only page of our website. Log on to https://classicalstudies.org and access the For Members only page via our Membership menu. 

2. Johns Hopkins University Press and a number of publishers that contribute content to Project Muse are making books and journals freely accessible for several months. JHUP journals include AJP, TAPA, and CW. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 03/19/2020 - 9:03am by Helen Cullyer.

Results and materials from the Classics tuning project we've mentioned in prior newsletters are now available publicly. See the below press release from the project's authors for full details:

THE ACM CLASSICS TUNING PROJECT: REPOSITORY OF MATERIALS

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 03/18/2020 - 11:02am by Erik Shell.

We're proud to announce the digital publication of "Careers for Classicists: Undergraduate Edition." This work is a completely new version of our previous "Careers for Classicists" pamphlet, providing the latest insights on how undergraduate classics majors can best prepare for jobs in a variety of fields.

You can read this newest publication in our online book format here: https://classicalstudies.org/careers-classicists-undergraduate-edition

We'd like to thank Adriana Brook, Eric Dugdale, and John Gruber-Miller for doing so much work in putting this volume together. The print version of "Careers" will be available in a few months, and will be one of several benefit choices for departmental membership.

And, in case you missed it, you can read the Graduate Student version of this publication here: https://classicalstudies.org/careers-classicists-graduate-student-edition

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 03/16/2020 - 12:51pm by Erik Shell.
We realize that this is a time of unprecedented turmoil, disruption, and challenge in all our personal and professional lives. SCS is delaying deadlines for 2021 annual meeting program submission in the hope that some extra time will be helpful to anyone planning to submit. The new deadlines are:
 
- April 21 (by 11.59pm EDT) for all submissions other than individual abstracts and lightning talks
- April 28 (by 11.59pm EDT) for all individual abstracts and lightning talks
 
As circumstances change, we will continue to adapt. While it is too early to say what effect COVID-19 will have on our annual meeting in January 2021, we will adjust as necessary and provide an annual meeting in some form. 
 
View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Sun, 03/15/2020 - 4:26pm by Helen Cullyer.

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