Message from President Denis Feeney on Proposed Name Change

Last October Jeffrey Henderson began a discussion of one of the major recommendations to emerge from the APA Board’s March 2012 retreat, that our organization should change its name so as better to reflect who we are and what we aim to do.  In late November he reported to the membership on the over 200 comments received to date, and announced a discussion forum to host further debate.  At our Board meeting in Seattle, we took note of the responses and had a wide-ranging discussion of the views of the membership, which at that point were running about 3 to 1 in favor of a change of name, although without consensus on an alternative. 

After a lengthy and full discussion, the Board voted in favor of a change of name, to “Society for Classical Studies”, with “Founded in 1869 as the American Philological Association” as a permanent subtitle. 

This proposal will be on your ballot in July when you are voting in the usual way in elections for new officers, and it will be a straight up and down, “yes” or “no” vote.  We are including the proposal on the election ballot because this is the best way to ensure that as many members as possible will vote on the question of a name change; we want everyone to have the opportunity to express their view on such an important change in the history of our organization.

Let me set out the reasons why the Board believes it is important for our organization to do this (naturally, I am following the lead of Jeffrey Henderson here).

The APA was founded in 1869 as an umbrella group for scholars who were, in the broadest sense, students of language—“philologists”.  If you look in the first issues of the Transactions of the American Philological Association (as it then was), you will find articles on Greek and Latin philology, but these are outnumbered by titles such as “On the German vernacular of Pennsylvania”, “On some mistaken notions of Algonkin grammar”, “Contributions to Creole grammar”, “On English vowel quantity in the thirteenth century and in the nineteenth”.  As time went by, sub-groups of “philologists” developed new group identities and broke off to form their own associations—the Modern Language Association of America (MLA), for example, in 1883, or the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), in 1924.  Classicists were left as the custodians of “Philology”, a term which had originally had a much broader application than what it fairly soon came to represent, “Classics”.

The resulting organization has been highly successful in adapting to all of the changes in life and education over the last century, but we have become more and more a professional organization as well as a learned society, and if we are to flourish then we must, as Jeffrey Henderson put it back in October, adapt to playing “ever broader roles as an academic, professional, and public resource”.  While continuing to provide all the professional services which our core constituency needs, we must also advocate for the importance of the Classics in a more engaged way, and we must take seriously our stated Gateway Campaign goal of becoming the go-to place for anyone anywhere interested in anything Classical. 

The Board believes that the current name of our organization has become an impediment to these new needs, however proud of and emotionally attached to the name we may be (in my own case, as a member since 1987, I feel very proud and emotionally attached).  On the basis of their own personal experience, all members will acknowledge how hard it is to explain to “civilians” what the name of our organization actually means.  Certainly, as many contributors to the discussion forum pointed out, “Classics” and “Classical” are not 100% transparent either, but to our colleagues, our students, and to the general public they are far more recognizable and accessible terms than “philology”.  Our discipline exists under the terms “Classics” or “Classical” in most institutions of higher education, as a departmental or program name, while many of our journals and affiliated regional and other societies have these words in their names and titles.  If we have a brand, “Classics” and “Classical” capture it better than any other language.

This has been a subject of debate within the APA for at least a decade.  The Board of Directors believe it is time for the membership to vote on the question.  The discussion forum is open.  Log in to the forum here, and then click on “Name Change Forum”.  Sam Huskey has made these remarks the beginning of a new topic; you can respond to that topic or create a new one of your own.  We invite members to engage in debate in our usual positive and constructive manner so that we may have an informed vote in July.

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The panel seeks to bring together academics and non-academics to brainstorm ways in which we can effect positive changes to the field of Classics given its negative past, public perception of the field, and the various institutional policies that hamper its effective teaching and study in sub-Saharan Africa. What has been done so far? What critical challenges persist? And what are the ways forward? 

Date: Monday, December 13, 2021

Time: 2pm-4pm GMT

Venue: Zoom (the link will be sent to registered participants).

Organizer: Michael K. Okyere Asante (UESD, Somanya/Stellenbosch University)

Moderator: Dr Nandini Pandey (John Hopkins University)

The panel discussion will be held in two parts: first, we will receive short presentations from speakers, followed by a general discussion of the issues raised in the various speakers' presentations. We intend documenting the discussions and coming up with a report on the issues raised to guide us in forming collaborations which will address these issues for a better future.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 12/08/2021 - 9:38pm by Helen Cullyer.

"'What Has Antiquity Ever Done for Us?'

The Vitality of Ancient Reception Studies, Now."

Online, Wednesday, 15 December to Saturday, 18 December

With #ClassicsTwitter Movie on Sunday, 19 December

View the program at antiquityinmediastudies.wordpress.com/program

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 12/08/2021 - 9:32pm by Helen Cullyer.

The graduate students of the Department of Classics at The Graduate Center at CUNY are happy to share the call for papers for our Spring 2022 14th annual Graduate Conference, entitled ‘Secret Knowledge in the Ancient World: Acquisition and Concealment.’ The conference will be held via Zoom on Friday, May 6, 2022.

We are pleased to announce our keynote speaker, Prof. Radcliffe G. Edmonds III (Bryn Mawr College).

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 12/07/2021 - 3:15pm by Erik Shell.

MAY 12, 2022 – MAY 15, 2022:

ANNUAL MEETING OF THE CLASSICAL ASSOCIATION OF CANADA

CALL FOR PAPERS

                                                             (Français à suivre)

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 12/07/2021 - 1:44pm by Erik Shell.
People sit around a table playing a board game. Two women on the left reach their arms across the board. One is pointing with her index finger.

The last decade or so has seen growing interest in “immersive” representations of antiquity: representations that seem to replace a subject’s real experience of the present with compelling simulation of the past. Thus scholars have worked, for example, on “immersion” in Homer, Herodotus and Thucydides, adaptations of Aeschylus, and in postdramatic tragedies. The topic is an outgrowth of longer-standing study of “immersivity” in theater, especially contemporary theater, and in literature, where an early watershed has led more recently to interdisciplinary approaches. In the first half of this post, I sketch a theory for approaching the phenomenon; in the second half, I describe some examples centered on games.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 12/06/2021 - 12:22pm by Benjamin Stevens.
A mosaic featuring two rows of light-skinned women wearing brown bikinis. On top, two women are running, one hold a large object, and one stands still. On the bottom, one holds a crown, one holds a branch, and two play catch with a ball.

The Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities initiative (AnWoMoCo), launched by the SCS in 2019 as the Classics Everywhere initiative, supports projects that seek to engage broader publics — individuals, groups, and communities — in critical discussion of and creative expression related to the ancient Mediterranean, the global reception of Greek and Roman culture, and the history of teaching and scholarship in the field of classical studies. As part of this initiative, the SCS has funded 125 projects, ranging from school programming to reading groups, prison programs, public talks, digital projects, and collaborations with artists in theater, opera, music, dance, and the visual arts. To date, it has funded projects in 28 states and 11 countries, including Canada, the UK, Italy, Greece, Spain, Belgium, Ghana, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and India.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 12/03/2021 - 11:23am by .

In 2021, the second year of the SCS Erich S. Gruen Prize, the selection committee received 15 submissions from graduate students across North America treating aspects of race, ethnicity, or cultural exchange in the ancient Mediterranean. The committee was impressed by the papers’ quality and range of disciplinary perspectives, methodologies, types of evidence, and time periods across the multicultural ancient world.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Tue, 11/30/2021 - 9:13am by Helen Cullyer.
An engraving showing a muscly man in a helmet carrying an elderly, also muscly man in his arms. A woman with long hair and a small child are also in motion. The figures are moving over fallen statues and weapons inside a large building next to a staircase

A few years ago, I read an essay by Elena Giusti in the now sadly defunct Eidolon. In this piece, Giusti considers the responsibilities of Classicists today, viewed from her perspective as a scholar of Italian origin based in the UK. Drawing attention to the use of Roman antiquity among the contemporary far-right in Italy, she goes on to state that,

No, it is simply not enough to remind readers that Aeneas was a migrant himself in this loaded climate of the migrant crisis (a recurrent reminder in the Italian press of late — counteracted, I now see, by the young alt-right journal Giovani a destra, whose claim to philological accuracy cares to stress, with Vergil, the Western origin of Dardanus).

This 21st-century contestation over the identity of Aeneas, the origins of Dardanus, founder of Troy, and what, if any, the responsibilities of Classicists confronted with such contestations are, piqued my interest.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 11/29/2021 - 10:31am by .

The SCS Committee on Contingent Faculty is once again organizing mentoring opportunities for contingent faculty.

You can use this form to sign up to participate in one-on-one mentoring meetups during the AIA/SCS 2022 Annual Meeting (January 6-8). This year there will be both virtual and in-person meetings! Once committee members have received your information, they will match you with either a mentor or mentee.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 11/29/2021 - 9:06am by Helen Cullyer.
An ornate carved gold square, at the center of which is a stylized horse with a small winged animal resting on its hind quarters. There are decorative patterns forming a border around the horse.

Classical Greeks often articulated a worldview that divided the world between Greeks and all other ethnic groups. This fundamental distinction served to justify war and slavery. The tragedian Aeschylus portrays non-Greeks as slavish and decadent in his Persians. Aristotle thought enslaving non-Greeks was a just cause for waging war (Politics 7.15.21). The Greeks called non-Greeks barbaroi, or “barbarians,” because of the unintelligible sounds of their foreign languages (they said bar bar). The historian Herodotus has long been a central figure in scholarly discourse about the creation and articulation of the boundary between Greeks and others.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 11/22/2021 - 10:34am by .

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