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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In response to the campaign to save Classics at Royal Holloway, and to the proposals put forward by the Department, the College has made some revisions to its proposals for the future of Classics. In particular the BA Classics is to be retained and the importance of advanced teaching in classical languages has been explicitly recognised. A reduction in staff numbers is still proposed, but it would be a loss of 4 posts rather than 6. We would be allowed to admit a total of 50 undergraduates per year for our classical degree programmes. The merger with History is still proposed but the suggestion now is that there would be a 'School of History and Classics' with a 'subject leader' for Classics. The proposal to move the Philosophy staff, including the Ancient Philosophy post, to the Department of Politics and International Relations has not been changed, nor has the proposal to move our Research Professor entirely to the Department of English.

Discussions within the College continue, and we hope for further progress. We are very pleased that we can continue to welcome applications through UCAS for 2012 for ALL our current degree programmes.

Prof. Anne Sheppard
Head of Classics and Philosophy Department
Royal Holloway
University of London
Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX

tel: +44 (0)1784 443204

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 10/03/2011 - 2:33pm by Information Architect.

"When Ted Pappas returned to Greece last summer he took 'Electra' with him. 'I studied it in Greek under an olive tree on my property,' says Pappas, who is directing the Pittsburgh Public Theater production of 'Electra' that begins performances Thursday at the O'Reilly Theater, Downtown." Read more at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review online.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sun, 10/02/2011 - 2:14pm by Information Architect.

Helen Hansen, a Plan II and public relations freshman at the University of Texas-Austin, wrote an impassioned defense of the Classics Department in her column in The Daily Texan this week.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sun, 10/02/2011 - 2:06pm by Information Architect.

The deadline has been extended to nominate primary and secondary school Classics teachers for the Awards for Excellence in Teaching at the Precollegiate Level that we present jointly with the American Classical League.  October 11, 2011 is the new deadline for receipt of nomination materials in the APA Office.  Thanks to a gift to the APA's Campaign for Classics by Daniel and Joanna Rose, these awards carry a larger honorarium and include a stipend for the awardee's school to use for the purchase of educational materials.  Full details are available on the APA web site.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 09/26/2011 - 5:34pm by Adam Blistein.

A new programme to revive Latin and Greek in our schools

Peter Jones writes in Spectator.co.uk:

Some 15 years ago, at the behest of the then editor Charles Moore, I wrote a jovial 20-week QED: Learn Latin column for the Daily Telegraph. It attracted a huge following, and I still have four large box-files full of letters from users. The majority of them expressed one of three sentiments: ‘I learned Latin at school x years ago, loved it and am delighted to renew my acquaintance’; ‘I learned Latin at school, hated it, but now realise what I have missed’; and ‘I never learned Latin at school and have always regretted it’.

These responses have stayed with me ever since, but they prompt a question: anecdotal evidence about the value people place on Latin is all very well, but would it be possible to produce something a little more objective? Can we demonstrate unconditionally that, as Gilbert Murray argued to the Classical Association in 1954, our pearls are real?

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sun, 09/25/2011 - 7:45pm by Information Architect.

From The Daily Texan's letters to the editor:

“Greek studies” is not about to be eliminated either as a field of study or as a major here, as the story titled “Greek studies to be eliminated from UT majors,” which ran in The Daily Texan on Thursday, suggests. The classics department continues to offer a wide range of courses on the languages and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome (classical studies), and UT students will continue to have multiple options for pursuing degrees that include advanced work in the language and culture of ancient Greece.

Yes, the Higher Education Coordinating Board has directed UT to eliminate one of our majors: the bachelor’s in Greek. But students still have four other degree options that require advanced work in ancient Greek language and culture: classics, classical archaeology, ancient history and classical civilization and Latin. The classics major requires advanced work in both Greek and Latin language. The classical archaeology and ancient history majors require advanced work in classical culture and also in either Greek or Latin. Even the bachelor’s in Latin requires advanced work in either Greek or classical culture.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 7:56pm by Information Architect.

"UT is the only public university in Texas to offer an undergraduate degree in Greek studies, but students entering the University after the current academic year will no longer be able to declare a major in the program. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board directed UT to eliminate its degree in Greek studies following this academic year. The board has suggested colleges cut certain degree programs with low enrollment in order to ease state-wide budget cuts to education." Read more at The Daily Texan …

For clarification, see Professor Stephen White's letter to the editor of The Daily Texan.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 12:43pm by Information Architect.

In support of the Gateway Campaign for Classics in the 21st Century the APA and Boston University will host a benefit on October 6th featuring classically themed readings by four poets.

Boston, Home of the Muses: Classical Translations and Inspirations by Four Eminent Poetswill be held on Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 8 p.m. at the Metcalf Trustee Center at Boston University. The evening will feature readings and a reception with

David Ferry, poet, translator, and recent winner of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement.

George Kalogeris, poet and teacher of English Literature and Classics in Translation at Suffolk University.

Robert Pinsky, former United States Poet Laureate and Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. 

Rosanna Warren, poet and Emma MacLachlan Metcalf Professor of the Humanities at Boston University.

A pre-performance dinner with the poets for top-tier ticket purchasers will be held at the former President’s residence, known as The Castle, one of Boston University’s most elegant buildings.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 09/23/2011 - 2:50pm by Adam Blistein.

The Packard Humanities Institute has made its database of Classical Latin texts available online at http://latin.packhum.org/index. Click on "Word Search," then click on the symbol next to the "search" button for directions.

View full article. | Posted in Websites and Resources on Wed, 09/21/2011 - 12:50am by .

"Before he became a Professor of literature at Harvard, and way before he wrote his classic Shakespeare biography, Will in The World, Stephen Greenblatt was an I'll-read-anything kind of kid. One day, he was standing in the campus book store, and there, in a bin, selling for ten cents (good price, even in 1961) he noticed a thin, little volume called On the Nature of Things, by a Roman writer named Lucretius. When he opened it, he found a description of how the universe came to be. Because Lucretius lived a couple of generations before the birth of Jesus, Stephen was expecting a tale of how gods, goddesses, earth, air, fire and water and an assortment of miracles created everything we see, but as he turned the pages, he says 'his jaw dropped' and 'his head began to burst open,' because Lucretius' creation story doesn't feel remotely ancient. First of all, it's a radically secular account, ignoring gods, goddesses, heaven, hell, life after death, and intelligent design, but more surprising, its logic is eerily, almost spookily modern." Read more, or listen to the interview at NPR.org.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 09/19/2011 - 5:20pm by Information Architect.

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