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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California State University Long Beach’s Classics program would like to announce that we are making our upper division Latin reading classes available to students via the web. These are not “online” classes; they are classes conducted with students in real time. People who are interested in joining our classes would attend class sessions virtually through a web interface, and thus anyone who wants to participate would have to be online during the specific class time.

For Spring semester 2014, we are offering two reading courses, Cicero and Caesar. The semester begins on Tuesday, January 21, and concludes on Friday, May 23, with Spring Break during the week of March 21. Each class meets three hours per week and earns a student 3 semester units. The prerequisite for each class is intermediate Latin; i.e., students will be expected to have facility with noun and verb morphology and an introductory knowledge of Latin grammatical constructions.

View full article. | Posted in General Announcements on Mon, 11/18/2013 - 10:08am by .

The Department of Classical Studies at the College of William and Mary is currently accepting applications for its first incoming class of students interested in pursuing a Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Classical Studies.  This is a flexible program of study for students who have an undergraduate degree and who wish to pursue an intensive course of study in the Classical languages in preparation for graduate studies, teaching, or personal enrichment.  Students in the program take specific courses in Latin, Greek, and classical civilization appropriate to their level of preparation.  This program is especially designed for students who wish to:

  • pursue graduate study in Classical Studies but do not have enough Latin and Greek to be competitive in applying to Ph.D. programs.
  • teach Greek, Latin, or a related field in Classical Studies but have only a limited number of courses in Greek or Latin as an undergraduate student.
  • study Latin or Greek (or both) for personal intellectual growth and satisfaction.

A complete program description and application for admission can be found at: www.wm.edu/as/classicalstudies/post-bac-program/index.php.  For additional information, please contact: John Donahue, Chair, Department of Classical Studies at jfdona@wm.edu or at 757-221-1930.

View full article. | Posted in Degree and Certificate Programs on Wed, 11/13/2013 - 4:19pm by .

Classico Contemporaneo is a new international review aimed at sharing themes, methods and experiences dealing with the persistence of the classical tradition in western cultural memory. The review’s focus converges on the relationship between modernity and Classics and its influence on the daily collective imagination.

The guidelines for submissions include, but are not limited to, didactical practices, research themes, and methodology. Experiences from abroad and reviews of literary and visual works inspired by Classics are welcome.

The first issue of Classico Contemporaneo will collect contributions about the classical tradition in western cultural memory and new perspectives that modern knowledge transmission has created.  For information please contact us: redazione@classicocontemporaneo.eu
 

View full article. | Posted in General Announcements on Tue, 11/12/2013 - 10:26am by Adam Blistein.

OK, my title is a more than a little tongue in cheek. Blogging for the APA doesn’t make me a public intellectual. Nor does the one article I’ve published for a wider public, a piece on Petronius for Salon.com. But by the same token it seems to me that most professional classical scholars don't pursue publishing in such venues, and I think more of us should attempt it. There are a lot of reasons why we don't. We’re not trained to write for broad audiences, and the tenure and promotion system demands that we devote our energy to peer-reviewed publications. Most of us don't know how we would go about finding a venue (I got published on Salon by pure, naïve luck, a shot in the dark to a culture editor. There must be better ways to do it, and I now know that your college’s office of communications can help, but I would welcome an APA panel with advice from those who have actually done it). But I also wonder whether many of us, self-conscious about the specialization of our expertise, don't think of ourselves as having much to say. So I think it’s useful to deflate the vaunted designation of “public intellectual” a bit, because too much vaunting discourages us from trying to attain it. It’s bad for our field if no one is speaking to the public about what we do.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 11/11/2013 - 3:59pm by Curtis Dozier.

Over the summer I saw a production of Antigone at the Schaubühne in Berlin, and for the most part I absolutely hated it. In a way this was rather good – I’ve seen so many blah-blah-just-fine productions of Greek tragedy that it’s easy to forget the invigorating ire that trickles down your spine when you see the immortal lines to which you’ve devoted your career trampled into the dust before your eyes. It was a classic example of artistic navel-gazing at its most extreme: the whole play was set in a therapy group, where the actors took it in turns to adopt the roles of different participants in the myth to work through their own issues, and then came out of character to discuss what they’d learned from the process. Everything was blasted with self-referential irony until every last trace of emotion withered and died. Tiresias was played by a glove-puppet who threw fried chicken all over the stage while uttering his prophecies in a squeaky voice. The duel between Polynices and Eteocles was staged as a wet towel fight. There was far too much silver glitter involved at every point.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 11/06/2013 - 8:30am by Laura Swift.

“At last my love has come along.” — At Last, written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren
tandem uenit amor (at last my love has come along) — Sulpicia poem 1, line 1

Etta James’ most famous song quotes the first line of the love-elegist Sulpicia, one of the few surviving Graeco-Roman women poets.  One of the song’s composers, Harry Warren (born Salvatore Antonio Guaragna), was the son of Italian immigrants.  Perhaps he encountered the line through them, and it stuck with him over the years?  More likely a coincidence.  In “Rumour Has It,” a recent chart-topper by the pop star Adele—a self-described admirer of Etta James and lover of poetry—the plot is one of love unrequited and rumor at large, a scenario reminiscent of Dido, Aeneas, and Rumor in Vergil Aeneid book 4.  (I’m not the first to make this association: see @calpunzel on Twitter.)  Even closer correspondences with Vergil appear in the songs of the singer Dido, particularly “My Lover’s Gone,” as Alden Smith has pointed out.

View full article. | Posted in on Tue, 11/05/2013 - 2:24pm by .

For several weeks in August and September, the United States government considered whether or not to bomb Syria. Public support for bombing hovered around ten percent, but the nation’s leaders seemed open to proceeding with military action. Various reasons were offered – to prevent further deaths from gas attacks by Syrian government forces; to degrade the Assad regime’s capacity to launch such attacks; to enforce international laws banning chemical weapons; to honor President Obama’s “red line” ultimatum of some months earlier; and to show rogue regimes and the world that the United States meant business when it made threats. An addendum to the last argument was that inaction would embolden the likes of Iran or North Korea. This line of thought got me thinking of a course I teach at Penn State, and the “logic of empire.”

View full article. | Posted in on Tue, 11/05/2013 - 10:56am by Garrett Fagan.

Here in Europe, one of the expectations that come with a university position is that one will apply for big-money research grants. This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because there genuinely is extra money on offer: if you want to run a complex collaborative project with postdoctoral researchers and extra PhD students, you can. It’s a curse because universities, which are (traditionally) almost all publicly funded and minimally endowed, are increasingly reliant on that extra income to keep afloat. As a result, there is pressure on the professors to bring in research money, sometimes against their own better judgment. At best, it’s a virtuous circle: the academic wants to do the research, and the grant enables it. At worst, the tail of the research grant wags the academic dog: the professor designs the application just to satisfy the university’s demand for income-generation, and ends up either rejected or (worse) running a project ineptly and unhappily.

Overall, though, I do think it is a good thing: it does mean that there are rich opportunities for collaboration between individuals, disciplines and institutions. I like to think of myself, however naively, as one of those classicists who can flourish in the new world order. I like working with other people and other universities, I like the energy, inventiveness and drive of early-career researchers, and I’m not too troubled by the organizational side of things.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 11/04/2013 - 9:09pm by Tim Whitmarsh.

We are launching a new feature on our website, "Guest Blogs," and we invite you to check it out and see what you think. Our field is amazingly varied, and there are new developments on the move in all parts of that variety, so that it seemed a good idea to have a forum where members can be kept up to date, informed, and--ideally-entertained in the process. We have invited a dozen Classicists to contribute regular columns (to keep an archaic print term that seems to have survived into the new medium).  We have tried to cover as much of the range of our subject as we can, and a geographical span as well, to capture at least some of the range of perspectives and expertises under the umbrella of our organization.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 11/04/2013 - 3:10pm by Adam Blistein.

We are posting a call for signatures to a petition launched by our colleagues in France, and circulated by John Bulwer of Euroclassica.  We thought this was an important petition to draw to your attention, and we urge members to read the message and to consider signing the petition.

Denis Feeney

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Sun, 11/03/2013 - 1:47pm by Adam Blistein.

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