In Memoriam: Lucy Turnbull

(From the University of Mississippi's website)

Former University of Mississippi professor Lucy Turnbull will always be remembered as a beloved educator who could make her curriculum both easy to understand and infinitely interesting to her students, a mentor and a champion of civil rights at Ole Miss.

Her enthusiasm for the classics was contagious, which propelled her students to success in her art history, archaeology, mythology and classical civilization courses. Turnbull, 87, of Oxford, joined the university faculty in 1961 and taught until 1990. She died Sunday (April 21).

Dewey Knight, recently retired UM associate director of the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, was one of Turnbull’s friends. He entered the university as a freshman in 1966 and found himself in one of her classes that year.

“She walked into the classroom that first day,” Knight said. “There were about 25 of us, and we were immediately very afraid of Professor Turnbull. She was incredibly intelligent. She could read Greek like we read English.

“We all were in fear of her, but we had the ultimate respect for her, because it was very obvious she was brilliant.”

Services for Turnbull are set for 11 a.m. Friday (April 26) at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford. A visitation will precede the service starting at 9 a.m. in the church’s Parish Hall.

Knight calls his former professor “one of the most important change agents” in the university’s history. Her biographical bullet points support that claim.

Born in Lancaster, Ohio, Turnbull earned a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College and her master’s and doctoral degrees from Radcliffe. She was a John Williams White Fellow and Charles Eliot Norton Fellow at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. She was the author of many scholarly articles and contributed to books, mainly in the areas of Greek vase painting, mythology and poetry.

After holding positions as a museum assistant at Wellesley College and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, she joined the UM classics faculty in 1961, as a classical archaeologist.

“Teaching is very energizing, but I didn’t really understand that at the time,” she later recalled. “When you’re teaching, you’re giving something to the students, but they’re also giving back to you. I enjoyed it very much.”

Turnbull was active in the integration of Ole Miss in 1962, when James Meredith became the first black student to enroll at the university. She, as a relatively new faculty member, was among the professors who vocally supported Meredith pursuing his education at the university.

Provost Emeritus Gerald Walton, who joined the UM faculty in 1962, later recalled that the professors who supported integration as part of the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors held formal meetings. Turnbull was elected the group’s secretary.

“Those of us who supported integration became a kind of fraternal group and talked among ourselves a good deal,” Walton said in 2012. “It was good to learn that Lucy was one who did not mind speaking her mind even though we weren’t sure in those days how such people as board of trustees members or legislators – or members of the Ole Miss administration, for that matter – might act. Lucy was a brave woman.”

Meredith often found himself alone on campus. Knight remembers seeing a photo of his friend Turnbull having lunch in Johnson Commons with Meredith and UM professor James Silver, author of “Mississippi: The Closed Society,” surrounded by a sea of empty tables.

She also was an active member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause, Mississippi Council on Human Relations, National Geographic Society, Smithsonian Associates and the National Organization of Women, among other groups.

Turnbull helped establish the University Museum and served as its director toward the end of her career, from 1983 to 1990. Its opening was one of her favorite memories, as the Department of Classics‘ large collection of Greek and Roman antiquities was moved from Bondurant Hall to the museum, where they remain.

Turnbull’s classroom presence had a lasting effect on Knight, he said. The two became friends, and for 20 years, beginning in 1996, they jointly taught a Sunday school class at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, where Turnbull was a devoted member who will be memorialized there Friday.

Knight and his wife, Theresa, also were among those invited to “The Christmas Party” at Turnbull’s house each year, where she lived alone, having never married.

The parties, which Knight said she hosted for nearly 50 years, included a who’s who of the university’s liberal arts community and ornaments that Turnbull made by hand.

“The first time we got the invitation, it just said ‘The Christmas Party,’” Knight said. “We didn’t know what was happening. We finally ultimately realized it was a big event, and if you were invited to her house, you felt special.”

He will always remember Turnbull as one of the most important figures in the university’s history and a fierce advocate for the liberal arts education.

“I never met anybody who didn’t like Lucy,” Knight said. “She was just a really special person who was very opinionated and very principled. Even if you didn’t agree with her, you liked her.

“She was an unwavering force. She was a scholar, but she was also a quality person. She made the university better by being a part of it.”


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


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I am pleased to post the press release below from the University of Oklahoma concerning a grant that the University has just received from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to implement the Digital Latin Library.  This project developed from a feasibility study, directed by our Information Architect Samuel Huskey, that was supported by a grant from the Foundation to the SCS.

Adam D. Blistein, Executive Director


The University of Oklahoma is the recipient of a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the continued development of the Digital Latin Library project, which—when complete—will create resources that people of varying levels of interest and expertise in Latin can use to find, read, discuss, study, teach, edit and annotate Latin texts of all types and eras.  This grant will allow OU and its collaborators to move forward on the implementation and launch of this Linked Open Data resource for providing resources and support of new scholarly educational materials related to Latin texts. 

“This grant is a great tribute to the leadership of our University and its faculty and staff in the fields of classics and letters,” said OU President David L. Boren.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 08/18/2015 - 4:03pm by Adam Blistein.

Vice Verba is a free game for digital devices that helps students of Latin master verb forms. Players parse verbs and produce forms to earn togas. When enough togas are collected, an imago of a famous dead Roman is unlocked. Collect all XII imagines, and don’t forget to flip the imagines over to see their stats! Players can customize the game by choosing tenses, voices, and moods, and the presence or absence of macrons. The game increases in difficulty as the player’s skills improve.

iPhone and iPad:


Pauline Ripat, University of Winnipeg, and Christina Vester, University of Waterloo

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Tue, 08/18/2015 - 3:54pm by Adam Blistein.

Until we are able to open the Placement Service for registrations for the 2015-2016 academic year, we are posting notices of openings submitted to us by institutions.  You can now read these listings at the web site for last year's Service.  Until we are able to open the Service for the current year, which we hope to do next week, we will update this page as frequently as necessary.  Institutions wishing to add a listing to this page should send it to There is no charge to submit a listing to this interim page, and no registration is needed to view the page.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 08/18/2015 - 3:34pm by Adam Blistein.

We apologize for the delay in launching the Placement Service online site for 2015-2016.  We now expect it to be available during the week of August 24.  In the interim, we want to make sure that SCS members are informed about positions in the field that are currently being advertised.  We urge institutions seeking applications for positions in classics or archaeology to send those announcements to  Starting on August 18, we will post those announcements at no charge until the new site is launched.

We thank SCS members for their patience.

Adam D. Blistein

Executive Director

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 08/14/2015 - 12:08am by Adam Blistein.

See the preliminary program for the upcoming meeting in San Francisco here.  Note that we expect to add a few sessions to this list in the next few weeks.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Sun, 08/09/2015 - 1:25pm by Adam Blistein.

Abstracts are invited for the international conference "Teaching Through Images: Imagery in Ancient Didactic Poetry" to be held in Heidelberg (Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg) on July 1-3, 2016.  In ancient didactic poetry, poets frequently make use of imagery – similes, metaphors, acoustic images, models, exempla, fables, allegory, personifications, and  other  tropes  –  as  a  means  to  elucidate  and convey their didactic message. In the  proposed  conference  we  will  investigate  such  phenomena  and explore their functions to make the unseen visible, the  unheard  audible,  and  the  unknown comprehensible, but also to muddy the waters. Possible topics for discussion include: At what point and in what context is such imagery deployed?   How does it function in relation to the audience's experience and expectations? For instance, Hesiod's fable, Empedocles' clepsydra, Lucretius' troop formations, and Vergil's political bees, all draw on a variety of sources and have complex relations to the teachings in which they are embedded and aim at engaging their readers and addressees in different ways. Imagery introduced by one didactic poet, such as Hesiod’s metallic races, may  form  an  intertextual  tradition exploited by subsequent poets for diverse purposes. But such tropes can also sometimes render the poet’s message riddling or cryptic, e.g.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Sat, 08/08/2015 - 12:38pm by Adam Blistein.
Medieval Imagery

by Ellen Bauerle

This spring I was fortunate to hear an interesting panel discussion—stand-up-and-take-notice interesting—at the Medieval Academy of America’s annual meeting, hosted by Notre Dame University. The panelists’ observations seemed to me relevant to the SCS both as demonstrating additional kinds of outreach but more importantly as discussing the peculiar period higher education now finds itself in, and what might be done about that at every level, from junior scholar to dean.

View full article. | Posted in on Sat, 08/08/2015 - 12:01pm by .

by David Potter

On May 2, 2015, two men boxed for thirty-six minutes, and each made an enormous amount of money, splitting a record purse of $300 million. Fans may not have seen the greatest fight of all time, or anything close to it, but they did get to boo the winner, Floyd Mayweather, when he strutted around the ring after he was awarded the unanimous decision. The political ambitions of the loser, Manny Pacquiao, do not seem to have been damaged by his defeat. There are already rumors of a rematch. Tiberius Caesar would have been appalled.

On May 27, 2015, a series of indictments was issued against leaders of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) for a wide range of corrupt activities in connection with the world’s most widely viewed sporting event, the World Cup. The modern notion that major sports organizations should claim to be self-policing and effectively free of governmental oversight—a privilege also asserted by, for instance, professional sports leagues in the United States and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)—descends from the early days of these institutions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Claudius Caesar would have been astounded.

View full article. | Posted in on Sat, 08/08/2015 - 11:58am by .

Elsewhere in this issue, in his article titled The Metal Age, Kris Fletcher discusses the relationship between classical studies and heavy metal music. Examining various metal appropriations of themes, characters, and ideas from classical antiquity, some less orthodox than others, Fletcher notes, “… these songs should remind us that we as classicists do not control this material.” On the SCS website, Mary-Kay Gamel and the Outreach Committee have voiced a similar view concerning the shared understanding of classical material: “We use the word ‘outreach’ not to suggest a one-way communication in which scholars inform others, but a complex interaction in which all involved contribute to a discussion of what Classics is and what it might be.”

Not surprisingly, then, in January the Outreach Committee enjoyed a lively discussion of the role of professional classicists and their students as editors of Wikipedia articles on classical subjects.

View full article. | Posted in on Sat, 08/08/2015 - 11:54am by .

by Herbert W. Benario  

This play is one of Shakespeare’s oddest. The theme focuses upon the Trojan War, with constant interplay among the great figures of the Greeks and Trojans, in the seventh year of the war. The cause of the war, the Trojan prince Paris stealing the beauteous wife of

Shakespeare will pronounce harsh judgments upon the heroine of the play. Her behavior and character will be sharply contrasted with one of Tacitus’ prime female figures in the struggle between Romans and Germans. Both suffer the indignity of being handed over to the enemy by their fathers. But their response and behavior are vastly different.

View full article. | Posted in on Sat, 08/08/2015 - 11:50am by .


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