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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From the SCS Board of Directors, approved 6/3/20

The Society for Classical Studies condemns the relentless horror of police brutality and murder of black men, women, and children, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Rekia Boyd, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Rodney King, to name just a few of the victims. Brutality perpetrated by the police and others stands with mass incarceration and unequal access to healthcare, education, and housing as symptoms of longstanding systemic, structural, and institutional racism in American and European cultures. These are deep problems in society that will not be fixed without radical policy changes at every level of government and across all institutions.   

View full article. | Posted in Public Statements on Wed, 06/03/2020 - 6:20am by Helen Cullyer.

The new 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 digital projects that engage with ancient texts and discuss the study of Classics during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/29/2020 - 7:55am by .

Fellowships, Scholarships, and Grants, January – April 2020

Some of our short-term fellowship and Classics Everywhere award winners are deferring use of their awards until Fall 2020 or 2021 owing to COVID-19. However, we congratulate everyone who was awarded a scholarship, fellowship or grant this spring, and we thank our selection committees for their hard work.

TLL Fellowship:

Amy Koenig

Pearson Fellowship:

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Wed, 05/27/2020 - 5:32pm by Helen Cullyer.

Please see below a message from the SCS President, followed by a listing of 2020 graduates:

With in-person celebrations ruled out by the coronavirus pandemic, the Society for Classical Studies is proud to recognize the many graduates at all levels across North America who have chosen to make serious and sustained study of the ancient Mediterranean world a significant part of their education.  For those who are earning PhD’s, we welcome the new contributions to knowledge that each of you has made, and we pledge our support and guidance as you negotiate an even more challenging professional landscape than you signed up for.  We warmly salute all degree-recipients who are pursuing careers in the vital enterprise of K-12 education.  For those who are going in other directions, we take great satisfaction in the variety of paths you will be following.  We hope the classical world will remain an important part of your lives, and we invite you to visit our website, read our blog, and join the SCS as “Friends of Classics.”  And we count on you as lifelong advocates for the value of studying Greco-Roman and ancient Mediterranean history and culture: please take every opportunity to spread the word that the ancient world still presents us with new questions to investigate and with multiple points of reference for thinking through our present-day concerns.  Heartfelt congratulations to all!

View full article. | Posted in Presidential Letters on Mon, 05/25/2020 - 12:11pm by Helen Cullyer.

The Arabic and Latin Glossary (hereafter al-gloss) is a free, online dictionary of the vocabulary used by medieval translators, primarily working in eleventh- to thirteenth-century Italy and Spain, to render the Arabic versions of Greek scientific and philosophical texts and original Arabic compositions into Latin. It is parallel, in terms of its scholarly goals and methodology, to the database Glossarium Graeco-Arabicum (hereafter gloss-ga), which is also run out of Germany but by a different team. In this review, I will refer to gloss-ga because it offers a point of comparison for assessing al-gloss’ editorial decisions and accessibility.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/22/2020 - 3:23pm by .
Books

Loeb Classical Library Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships in Classics

2021-2023

The Trustees of the Loeb Classical Library Foundation announce funding of four two-year postdoctoral fellowships to be held in the academic years 2021–2023. [A further four fellowships will be funded for the academic years 2022–2024] The details for the first round of competition for these fellowships are as follows:

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Thu, 05/21/2020 - 2:30pm by Helen Cullyer.

Many congratulations to Erik Shell who graduates today with his M.A. in Education Policy from NYU. Erik has been working part-time on his degree while working full-time for SCS in many roles. He runs the the Placement Service, works on social media and our website, coordinates our departmental membership program, edits video, and does so many other things. Thank you, Erik, for everything you do for SCS and its members, and congratulations on a well-deserved Masters degree!

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 05/20/2020 - 8:09am by Helen Cullyer.

Have you ever thought about a terminal MA in Classics?

I have to confess, I hadn’t before coming to teach at Boston College, where we have such a graduate program. I had firsthand experience with Classics BAs in colleges that only granted undergraduate degrees, BAs and MAs in PhD-granting departments — heck, even a combined BA/MA program. But a freestanding MA degree that was a purposeful end goal rather than an add-on, an along-the-way, or a no-more-thanks? It never crossed my mind. To judge from the conversations that I’ve had since joining a department with a terminal MA program, I think that’s true of a lot of Classics faculty, as well as for a lot of students. And I also think that has led to some unfortunate misunderstandings about terminal MAs and their contributions, both to the field as a whole and to the personal and professional development of individual students.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/15/2020 - 8:26am by Christopher Polt.

Barbara K. Gold is Edward North Professor of Classics at Hamilton College, Emerita. She received her B.A. at the University of Michigan in 1966, her master’s degree in 1968 and her doctorate in 1975, both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on Greek and Roman literature, particularly Roman elegy, lyric, and satire; medieval literature, culture, and history; Roman social history; women in the ancient world; and feminist criticism. A prolific author and recipient of numerous grants and awards, Professor Gold was the first woman editor of The American Journal of Philology from 2000 to 2008 and is currently Vice President for Professional Matters of the Society for Classical Studies. She has also served on numerous college committees and was Associate Dean of Faculty at Hamilton College (1997-2001).

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/08/2020 - 5:01am by Claire Catenaccio.

THE ERICH S. GRUEN PRIZE

On behalf of the Society for Classical Studies (SCS), the Erich S. Gruen Prize Committee invites all graduate students in North America to enter the first annual competition for the best graduate research paper on multiculturalism in the ancient Mediterranean. This year the prize will be a cash award of $500. 

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Thu, 05/07/2020 - 6:55am by Erik Shell.

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