Message from the President - February 2014

Unexpectedly spending a couple of extra days in Chicago this January, as I viewed quiet snowfall against the backdrop of the seasonal lights on the Wrigley Building and watched the gradual freezing of the Chicago River, I found moments of calm to reflect on the state of our APA as I had come to know it during my year as President-Elect. One deceptively simple word seemed to encapsulate the complex process of finding our way forward in this fast-paced world as an organization devoted to the distant past, and that word is service. The APA is a service organization, which has traditionally meant service to those who choose to be members but now increasingly means also service to others, to any and all who wish to participate in our various explorations of the classical world. How to frame the interaction of these two is our current challenge.

The traditional services offered by the APA are alive and well. Our professional staff, typically unobserved, continues to put on a smooth-running annual meeting where members present their scholarship, learn from others, and exchange ideas with old friends and new acquaintances. Again somewhat inconspicuously, APA officers and volunteer members offer advice to departments and programs in difficulty and uphold standards of ethical behavior in scholarly and professional activities. The future of the Placement Service was a concern this past year, when the AIA withdrew from joint participation with the APA to set up their own service that did not include arrangement of interviews. As it turns out, however, our initial concern was misplaced because participation of institutions and candidates in the APA Placement Service actually increased at the 2014 meeting. In addition, our system of arranging interviews proved vital as many candidates and interviewers were delayed due to the weather and our staff was called upon to revise schedules.

The APA has long been devoted to undertaking key projects that promote research. Members are familiar with the essential work performed by the American Office of L’année philologique, supported by your dues, generous annual giving, and a significant endowment raised through our capital campaign. I call your attention as well to the APA’s newest research initiative, the Digital Latin Library (DLL), undertaken in conjunction with the Medieval Academy of America and the Renaissance Society of America. Supported by grant funding from the Mellon Foundation, the DLL is envisioned, broadly speaking, as the APA’s contribution to the revolution that is digital humanities. It will provide a website populated by editions of Latin works that include an apparatus criticus, where individuals can browse, read, comment, edit, and publish new digital editions that exceed the possibilities offered by printed texts. For instance, these editions could include links to manuscripts and collations, lists of variants not placed in the apparatus, and commentary at adjustable levels of detail, including discussion of editorial choices. In the language of Sam Huskey, the project’s director, scholars using the site will be able to combine “traditional philological methods with new technology to expand the reach and capabilities of Latin scholarship and pedagogy.” Click here for a fuller description. 

While we remain true to our core identity as the principal North American organization devoted to advancing knowledge about the classical world, the APA is also increasingly committed to becoming a public voice in support of study of classics and a resource for non-professionals who wish to learn from our explorations. This means that the service provided by the APA, soon to become the SCS (Society for Classical Studies), is now directed not just to serving its membership but also increasingly to informing others who share our enthusiasms or may come to do so. Your support for the APA, through membership and volunteer work, is thus expanding to become support for classics more broadly conceived. I consider this expansion of the activities of the APA essential to the future of classics, as our organization learns how to share the conversations we have as scholars with the broader public. As part of this approach, the Board of Directors recently approved two new categories of associate membership which are designed to affiliate persons who desire to engage with and support our mission but do not require the benefits of full membership. Ronnie Ancona, before completing her term as Vice-President for Education, proposed an associate membership for K-12 teachers who wish to receive information from the APA but not be active members, and I proposed a similar associate membership, called Friends of Classics, directed toward non-professionals who wish to learn about the ancient world and to support the work of our organization. As potential Friends, I was thinking particularly of the thousands who have studied Classics at some level, whether in high school, as a classics major, or at the graduate level, and who remain passionate about antiquity while enjoying careers in other fields. Many of these, as well as others fascinated by the ancient world, now have a means to affiliate themselves with the APA/SCS. These associate memberships will create an eager audience to whom we may communicate about Classics and will help to create a network of persons who support our initiatives.

Since its founding in 1869, the APA has continually evolved to meet the needs of scholars who study Greek and Latin texts and the cultures in which they were produced. In our contemporary world where Greek and Latin have long since ceased to be the core of higher education, our organization continues its journey, by serving the professional needs of its members while sharing their intellectual and scholarly endeavors with a wider community.  Clearly the name change to Society for Classical Studies, which will take effect in the coming months, marks a watershed in the organization’s history. My personal message to you, however, is that the change is in no way a diminution of what the organization stands for but a sign of its commitment to increasing its range of service. As a member of the APA/SCS, you will be a part of the efforts to do more. You will not only continue to receive the benefits of professional services and intellectual exchange but also contribute to increasing awareness of classics as a fundamental part of our cultural heritage.

Kathryn J. Gutzwiller

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The logo for Asterion. A wide oval with a black background filled with stars. In the middle is a red circle with a Greek meander pattern, and inside the circle text reads "Asterion: Neurodiverse Classics."

As an autistic classicist, one of the things I’ve always struggled with is social interaction. In class, I teach students about Bourdieu and habitus and cultural scripts, while all the time feeling that, whatever the cultural script of our time is, mine got lost in the mail. I’ve spent my life pretending (without much success) to understand people and the codes that underpin their actions. The easiest solution for me has always been to hide because, when I’m on my own, I’m not uncomfortable, awkward, or afraid.

But hiding sends the wrong message and models the wrong behavior, as I realized when my son was diagnosed with autism, too. How can you advise a child to pretend to be like everyone else, because difference makes them a target? How can you warn them that their honesty will make them an outcast, their sensitivities will make them vulnerable, and their hyperempathy will make them a victim? How can you commit to inclusion in your professional life while accepting exclusion in your personal life?

You can’t — or, at least, I couldn’t.

View full article. | Posted in on Tue, 01/18/2022 - 9:38am by .
A brightly colored manuscript page. On the left is calligraphy in Sanskrit; on the right is a woman in printed garb sitting in a carriage pulled by two white horses. She makes a gesture with her two palms press together. A black figure looks back at her.

Like many educators, I have found myself in an endless loop lately of thinking and rethinking my teaching principles and practices — a loop caused by the unprecedented teaching conditions the pandemic has brought upon us. Though I consider myself a thoughtful instructor, I admit that I have never thought so extensively, carefully, and critically about the purposes and desired outcomes of my teaching as I have in the months between March 2020 and now. Each week of each semester involves calibrating and recalibrating my courses, as I hope to meet the needs of my students and help them balance their lives within the classroom and without. I have become more attuned to the extramural realities that bear on my students’ learning, and as someone who works at a Hispanic-serving Institution, a desire for inclusivity increasingly informs the way I teach. My own institution just recently offered its first workshop on culturally responsive pedagogy, which provided me with many new tools for teaching in inclusive ways. Among other things, I realized that any kind of responsive pedagogy involves constant conversation with one’s colleagues, to generate, refresh, and fine-tune ways of teaching with a view toward inclusion and accessibility.

View full article. | Posted in on Sun, 01/09/2022 - 9:37pm by .
A Macbook sits on a wooden desk showing a Zoom screen filled with faces. Left of it, a turquoise mug sits on the desk.

To write about the Capitol Insurrection, as the one-year anniversary approached, I went back through my chat logs from January 6, 2021, in the interest of refreshing and confirming my memory. What I found, in lieu of any particularly meaningful conclusions, was a window into that day and how some friends and I were dealing with catastrophic events as they unfolded.

That day, I had a university meeting wedged between SCS panels, and I think I actually found the precise moment when I realized what was going on. That moment is a fairly profanity-laden series of messages with a very-online friend of mine, to whom I sent “So what the fuck is happening in DC?? I've been in meetings and the capitol building is being stormed??” followed by “i allegedly have another meeting right now and i am physically nauseous after having like a 5 minute break and seeing the news.”

In all my other group chats, things progressed about the same. Conversation about the SCS conference and pre-semester preparation, interrupted by a confused panic about what was happening on the news. A bunch of millennial classicists trying frantically to figure out where they can watch live news and wondering why all the afternoon panels weren’t canceled (though some were), processing anger and fear in countless group-chats and DMs.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 01/07/2022 - 12:48pm by .
A painting of Rome featuring a crowd of men fighting on a hill. Behind them is an obelisk, a column, and a toppled white marble statue of a nude man.

At 2:00 pm on January 6th, 2021, a mob made its way up the steps of the U.S. Capitol following a morning of brinkmanship, speeches, and speculation. I sat in my office at home, logged into a Zoom session, watching Twitter and a streaming news channel on one screen, all while pretending to be engaged with the beginning of an SCS Panel, “The Powers and Perils of Solitude in Greek Literature.”

At 2:20 or so, I was slated to begin a talk entitled “Being Human, Being Alone” as the Capitol was evacuated and our legislators were put under protection. At 2:24 pm, President Trump tweeted, “Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 01/06/2022 - 10:00am by .
A monochromatic stone statue of a man with short hair wrapped in a toga and sitting in a large chair. His right arm is leaning on the back of the chair, and his left hand holds a writing tablet on his lap. The base of the statue reads "SALLVSTIVS"

What do you read for an insurrection? Classics offers plenty of material for revolutionary bibliophiles: compilations for the budding revolutionary, handbooks for coups both successful and failed. The Capitol rioters certainly had their Classics before their eyes, as Curtis Dozier outlined shortly after the event: Caesar and XenophonVergil and Herodotus.

But in January 2021, I was reading Sallust—and an apt choice it was, too. Not because of what Sallust writes — Catiline’s attempt to overthrow the government or Marius’ attempt to change Roman institutions — but because of what he passes over. He was there at the swelling of the atmosphere that led to the burning of the Senate house on January 19th (what is it about Januaries?), 52 bce, during the funeral of Publius Clodius.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 01/05/2022 - 11:20am by .
New WCC logo reading WCC 50th, 1972-2022. Beige font on a dusty pink background.

The year was 1971. In the lobby of a hotel in Cincinnati, OH, a small group of early career faculty and graduate students, mostly women, met and decided to form a caucus. Frustrated by the lack of transparency, mentors, and opportunities in Classics both for women in the field and for those who studied women in antiquity, they wanted something different, both for themselves and for future generations. At the next year’s Annual Meeting of the American Philological Association (APA) in Philadelphia, PA, they made it official. The Women’s Classical Caucus (WCC) was born.

By phone, mail, and intermittent gatherings at regional conferences and the APA (now SCS), the founders and early members of this young caucus stayed connected and encouraged each other in its early decades to publish feminist scholarship and introduce to their departments new, revolutionary courses on “women in antiquity,” which received almost immediate backlash.

Fast forward 50 years, and it’s hard to imagine a time when women and feminist scholars were not a strong presence in the profession, whether publishing scholarship through the lens of feminist theory, teaching about ancient women at both the K-12 and university levels, or taking on leadership roles both in the SCS and in their local institutions.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 01/03/2022 - 10:14am by .

Every year at the annual meeting we hold the Career Networking event, a meeting that gives academics access to former classicists, historians, and archeologists who have made career shifts into new fields. They speak candidly about their transition, and are there to offer advice to anyone looking to change career paths. This year we have more networkers than in any year previous, with a broad range of fields and experiences represented.

We will hold our annual Career Networking event at this year's virtual AIA/SCS Annual Meeting on Saturday, January 8th, from 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Please block off time to attend this extraordinarily helpful event. It'll be accessible through the digital meeting platform.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 01/03/2022 - 9:01am by Erik Shell.

The AIA and SCS have made the difficult decision to switch our upcoming 2022 Annual Meeting to a virtual only event.  We had high hopes to once again have an in-person component to our meeting, but the rapid rise in Covid cases due to the Delta and Omicron variants have made that impossible to do safely.  While we are eager to see everyone in-person again, the overall health and safety of our attendees, staff, and hotel and meeting personnel take precedence. 

Since we were already planning to hold our meeting in a hybrid format the transition to a virtual only meeting will not be difficult.  We are using the same platform as last year and all sessions will be available through the virtual meeting platform.  Details on how to access it will be emailed out to all attendees next Monday (January 3).

If you had been planning to attend in person, please contact the Hilton to cancel your reservation.  We will be reaching out to all in-person registrants following the meeting regarding refunds for the difference in registration rates. 

We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy and look forward to seeing you online during our virtual meeting. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 12/29/2021 - 2:17pm by Helen Cullyer.

SCS is pleased to announce the following winners of the 2021 excellence in teaching awards. Please join us in congratulating the winners!

Excellence in Teaching at the K-12 Level

Jessie Craft (Reagan High School, WSFCS school district)

Mathew Olkovikas (Pinkerton Academy)

Margaret Somerville (Friends' Central School)

Excellence in Teaching at the College and University Level

Deborah Beck (University of Texas at Austin)

Richard Ellis (University of California, Los Angeles)

Wilfred Major (Louisiana State University)

Brett Rogers (University of Puget Sound)

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Mon, 12/27/2021 - 9:09am by Helen Cullyer.
Oil painting of a white man sitting in a large chair facing left with a dissatisfied expression. He wears a white toga with red drapery over his left arm, a crown, a gold cuff bracelet, and short curly hair. A tiger sits between his legs.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that humor ages poorly. Jokes tend to be topical, and to be based on the social expectations of a particular group at a particular moment. The deterioration of humor over time is often a matter of changing contexts as well as changing tastes: ideas that once made a coherent joke cease to fit together.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 12/27/2021 - 8:34am by .

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