Presidential Letter - Annual Meeting Location (Pt. 1)

In my first presidential letter, right after the annual meeting last January, I wrote about the need to consider not only where we meet, but at what time of year. This letter addresses the first question; I will write separately about the other one.

When I wrote my previous letter, we had already signed contracts for meetings through 2024, and since then we have signed another for 2025; the details are here. So, no immediate change is possible, but we still must move quickly since we have to make decisions that far in advance in order to get the venues we want, when we want them, and at an affordable price. It will soon be time to sign a contract for 2026, no matter where, or on what specific days we want to meet.

With that in mind, I wish I could say there are no other constraints, but in reality there are some powerful ones. Apologies to those who already know all of this, but from talking to quite a few members over recent months, I’ve got the impression that explaining the basic issues might be beneficial.

The first point is very simple, but very important:

SCS members and AIA members agree that they want SCS and AIA to continue holding a Joint Annual Meeting.

I know this seems so obvious that I shouldn’t have to mention it, or spell out the equally obvious corollary that an SCS-only meeting would be just half the size of what we’re used to. Size is crucially important because a meeting of 2,000 is just too big for most cities, but not quite big enough for some others. By and large, the fourteen cities we have visited over the past twenty-three years define the universe of possibilities. Some we’ve visited more than once (Chicago 1997, 2008, 2014; Philadelphia 2002, 2009, 2012; San Diego 1995, 2001, 2007; Boston 2005, 2018; New Orleans 2003, 2015; San Francisco 2004, 2016), others not (Anaheim 2010; Dallas 1999; Montreal  2006; New York 1996; Seattle 2013; San Antonio 2011; Toronto 2017; Washington 1998). What they all have in common are facilities adequate to handle a meeting our size, plus good service by air and rail carriers. Most also offer meeting venues close to a vibrant downtown area affording excellent dining, cultural, and other off-hours attractions.

People often ask about other cities that seem like good prospects, but that do not compare well to those on this list. Atlanta and Orlando are warm-weather cities that have the facilities we require; one is a major air travel hub, and the other is not hard to get to. The main reason we haven’t gone to either place is that members, when polled about annual meeting venues, have not ranked them very high. Maybe in light of recent experiences that will change; and in any case, what we say we want to do and what we actually do are sometimes very different things (see further below). People also ask about cities they especially like, but that could never accommodate a meeting the size of ours. Take Santa Barbara, a city where I once lived and now visit as often as I can; but getting 2,000 of us into town within 24 to 36 hours, and then out again within 12 to 18, would be physically impossible; and even if we did get in, I can’t imagine where we would sleep, or meet, or eat, and what it would all cost.

Another complication is that some states have passed laws that discriminate against some of our members. The main category of such laws targets the LGBT community. There are eight states that have passed such laws, but Texas is the only one  which has cities capable of hosting our annual meeting. For ethical reasons, we will not be going back there while these laws are on the books. In practical terms, it is also the case that employees of the state of California — including those affiliated with public universities — cannot get reimbursed for their travel to those states. In these cases, ethics and practical considerations align, but it is worth remembering that factors outside our control can play a role in where we can hold the meeting.

I’m always glad when people ask me about such things, because I’m grateful for the opportunity to explain — even though I wish this weren’t the case — that there really are only a few places that can accommodate our meeting. In fact, it was the experience of fielding such questions that gave me the idea of writing this letter.

What else goes into selecting a site? By custom, we try to mix it up by moving from East to Midwest to West from year to year, including Canada in the rotation about once every ten years. Apart from that, it’s basically a matter of getting the best deal on rooms and meeting space for our attendees. (Here it’s worth remembering that we could certainly get better rates if we were smaller and could go to different cities. But we are in a bracket that puts us in competition with the corporate sector for the facilities that we need. That is another factor that will come up in my next letter about where we meet, because we can do better if we meet when the corporate world is less interested in doing so. But I’ll save that for later.)

Finally, there is the matter of actual attendance. Here are the paid registration figures, from best to worst, for 1998–2018:

2012 Philadelphia 2,833
2008 Chicago 2,566
2014 Chicago 2,477
2016 San Francisco 2,476
2005 Boston 2,471
2009 Philadelphia 2,464
2015 New Orleans 2,408
2007 San Diego 2,271
1998 Washington 2,264
2017 Toronto 2,188
2013 Seattle 2,159
2018 Boston 2,094
2004 San Francisco 2,094
2006 Montreal 2,049
2002 Philadelphia 2,031
2011 San Antonio 1,974
2003 New Orleans 1,945
2010 Anaheim 1,905
2001 San Diego 1,882
1999 Dallas 1,407
Twenty Year Average 2,198

Now, SCS is in the business of breaking even, not making money. So, too, with the annual meeting our goal is not to lose money. The break-even point is a total paid registration somewhere between about 2,000 and 2,200. (The actual break-even point fluctuates because some cities are just more expensive than others.) As the chart shows, we have usually been within or very near that range. When we’ve been over it, that has meant a good year for the Society in financial terms; but when we’re below it, it has meant a very difficult year. So, we do have to hold the meeting in places that will attract members.

A complication: It turns out, as I mentioned above, that there is some tension between where we say we want to go and where we actually show up. San Diego, where we will be meeting next January, always polls well, but our last two meetings there drew an average of just over 2,000 — on target for breaking even, but offering no cushion in case of an off year. Chicago, on the other hand, a name that sets people to grumbling — understandably after 2014 — has averaged over 2,300 attendees, a number that gives us some flexibility regarding sites we choose in other years. But also, quite apart from financial viability, my (admittedly subjective) experience has always been that a well-attended meeting is a more successful one from every point of view: there are more people going to paper sessions and participating in discussions, meeting old friends, making new ones, and so forth. So, to state the obvious once again, it’s going to continue to be important to meet in cities that will attract attendees, and there just aren’t that many of those.

I’ll close on that note and give you some time to digest this before I write about the related, and more difficult problem of whether we should meet at a different time of year.

- Joe Farrell

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Classics in the Anthropocene 

University of Toronto, Department of Classics, Graduate Conference 
April 19-20, 2019 

Keynote Speakers: Brooke Holmes (Princeton), Katherine Blouin (Toronto) 

The recent popularity of the notion of “the Anthropocene” reflects a growing recognition that human societies and their natural environments radically and reciprocally shape and influence one another. Additionally, there is a looming sense that the ecological conditions under which humankind has thrived for millennia are about to undergo a set of epochal transformations. Speculations about the near-future range from optimistic to pessimistic extremes. Will there be a collective and self-conscious effort to re-shape civilization as we have known it, or a total extinction of life on earth? In either case, humanity faces an unprecedented crisis. 

This crisis provides a novel horizon of meaning for the interpretation of human society and culture, past as well as present. The task of rethinking traditional categories such as history, culture, individuality, and nature, has become both possible and necessary. In many disciplines this work is already underway. 

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 10/18/2018 - 10:16am by Erik Shell.
The Popular in Classical Antiquity
 
Graduate Student Conference, University of Pennsylvania, April 26, 2019
Keynote speaker: Jeremy Lefkowitz, Swarthmore College

What is popular culture in the ancient world? How can we study it? Why should we study it? In recent years the discipline of Classical Studies has sought to move away from its traditionally elite bias and broaden investigation of the ancient world to include popular culture. From Johann Gottfried Herder’s work on folk songs in the 18th century to Lucy’s Grig’s recent edited volume, the “popular” has been variously defined: as folk culture located in the rural tradition; as mass culture in urbanized centers; as the opposite of “high” or “literate” culture; and as unauthorized culture expressed as resistance. One of the aims of this conference is to discuss the validity of such definitions for the Classical world.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 10/18/2018 - 9:32am by Erik Shell.
Lapis SatricanusIscrizione latina arcaica, VI secolo a.C. EDR 078476. Photo by Giulia Sarullo - Own work, via Wikimedia CC BY-SA 4.0.

EAGLE, the Electronic Archive of Greek and Latin Epigraphy, was conceived in 1997 by the Italian Epigrapher Silvio Panciera (1933–2016). Based at Sapienza — Università di Roma, it appeared under the aegis of the Association Internationale d’Épigraphie Grecque et Latine (AIEGL) and an international steering committee. The site launched in 2003, with the goal of providing a gateway for the search of all Greek and Latin inscriptions.

It began with a collaboration of four major databases of Roman inscriptions. Briefly:

View full article. | Posted in on Sun, 10/14/2018 - 11:28am by Charles Hedrick.

Mediterranean Connections – How the Sea Links People and Transforms Identities

Session 7 of the International Open Workshop: Socio-Environmental Dynamics VI (organized by the  Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes” and the Collaborative Research Centre 1266 “Scales of Transformation”)

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 10/12/2018 - 2:45pm by Erik Shell.
“Ways of Seeing, Ways of Reading, 2”
The Aesthetics and Anthropology of Arms and Armor
 
Columbia University, Schermerhorn Hall 612
1180 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027
 
 
- PROGRAM -

Friday, October 19: morning (Columbia University, Schermerhorn Hall 612)

1. Weapons, Good to Think With (9:30-11 am)

- Christine Mauduit (ENS), “Around the Sword: Some Thoughts about Ajax’s Suicide”

- Deborah Steiner (Columbia), "Arms and the Symposion”

- Camille Rambourg (ENS), "Exploring the Question of Responsibility: The Javelin of Antiphon's Second Tetralogy"

- Peter van Alfen (ANS), "Arms and Armor in archaic coins" 

Coffee Break (11-11:30 am)

2. Arms, Culture, Religion (11.30 am-1 pm)

- Ellen Morris (Barnard), "Daggers, Militarism, and the Evolving Culture of Death on the Nile in the Second Millennium BCE"

- Cléo Carastro (EHESS), "Greek Trophies: War and its Dead"

- Christophe Goddard (CNRS), "Arms in Religion, Religions in Arms in Late Antiquity"

- Pierre Terjanian (MMA), "Armor as Votive Gift: Devotion and Self-Representation in Late Medieval and Renaissance Europe”

Lunch Break (1-2:30 pm)

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Fri, 10/12/2018 - 11:01am by Erik Shell.
Infant Hercules Strangling Two Serpents, late 15th–early 16th century. Bronze. Metropolitan Museum of Art. CC0 1.0.

What is the role of graphic novels in teaching the ancient world to students? Prof. Chris Trinacty addresses this question and reviews two recent additions to the genre: Rome West and The Hero (Book Two). 

Two recent graphic novels touch upon the ancient world in fascinating ways. The first, Rome West, by Justin Giampaoli, Brian Wood, and Andrea Mutti provides an alternative history of the world predicated on the idea that a lost legion of Roman soldiers make landfall in North America in the year 323 CE. The second, The Hero, published by Dark Horse Comics in two volumes is a creative take on Heracles’ Twelve Labors that offers a mash-up of modern celebrity culture, science fiction tropes, ancient archetypes of heroism, and the visual iconography of Heracles especially from Greece vase painting.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 10/11/2018 - 8:43pm by Christopher Trinacty.
The Annual Ancient Philosophy Workshop (42nd in the series inaugurated and periodically sponsored by The University of Texas at Austin) will be held March 8-9, 2019, at Trinity University, San Antonio, TX. This workshop is sponsored by the Trinity Philosophy Department and Trinity University Academic Affairs. Proposals are invited for papers on any problem, figure, or issue in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, from the Presocratics to late antiquity. Each paper will be allotted forty-five minutes for oral presentation and will be followed by a response and open discussion.
 
Our keynote speaker will be Verity Harte, Yale University.
 
To propose a paper, send a 1-page abstract of 300-500 words to ancientphilworkshop@trinity.edu under the subject heading “Workshop Proposal.” Please provide contact information in the email but no identifying info in the abstract itself. Proposals are due no later than Friday, December 14, 2018. Proposers will be notified of selections by Friday, January 4, 2019.
 
Complete papers will be due to session chairs and respondents by Friday, February 15, 2019.
 
Questions and Contact
 
Damian Caluori, Associate Professor (dcaluori@trinity.edu)
 
View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 10/11/2018 - 1:41pm by Erik Shell.
“Home & Homecomings”
 
33rd Biennial Conference of the Classical Association of South Africa
Stellenbosch 7-10 November 2019

The Classical Association of South Africa (CASA) invites proposals for papers for its 33rd Biennial Conference, to be hosted by the Department of Ancient Studies at the University of Stellenbosch.

We invite submissions that focus on the conference theme “Homes & Homecomings” as well as individual proposals on other aspects of the classical world and its reception. Panels are strongly encouraged and should consist of 3 to 8 related papers put together by the panel chair. We also welcome postgraduate students currently busy with Master’s or Doctoral programmes to submit papers for a “work-in-progress” parallel session.

Please submit a paper title, an abstract (approximately 300 words), and author affiliation to Annemarie de Villiers at amdev@sun.ac.za. The deadline for proposals is 31 May 2019.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 10/08/2018 - 2:54pm by Erik Shell.

The second meeting of the North American Sections of the International Plutarch Society will take place 15-18 May 2019 at Utah State University in Logan and Park City, Utah. Logan is ninety minutes north of the Salt Lake City International hub airport and convenient to many national parks and other attractions. Plenary sessions will examine the topic of "Plutarch's Unexpected Silences" in tranquil and beautiful mountain settings as we conclude our meeting in the former mining town of Park City, Utah.

"Plutarch's Unexpected Silences" asks us to consider those times in the Parallel Lives or Moralia when we are surprised that Plutarch does not say something, or when he leaves something out. Whether this occurs by mistake or by design in Plutarch's work, we propose focusing on those passages that foil our expectations or whose silence invites a closer examination. We would also like to consider other odd omissions, perhaps of authors or works, or places even, that Plutarch might be expected to know, or even suspected of knowing.

Abstracts will be judged anonymously by the organizing committee.

The deadline for consideration is 30 November 2018.

Please see also our website: https://ipsnortham.org/.

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View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 10/08/2018 - 12:51pm by Erik Shell.

We would like to remind you of this year's call for applications for the Minority Scholarships in Classics and Classical Archaeology.

The purpose of the scholarship is to further undergraduate students’ preparation in classics or classical archaeology with opportunities not available during the school year. Eligible proposals might include (but are not limited to) participation in classical summer programs or field schools in Italy, Greece, Egypt, etc., or language training at institutions in the U.S, Canada, or Europe.

You can read more about the scholarship and how to apply here.

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(Photo: "library" by Viva Vivanista, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Mon, 10/08/2018 - 11:20am by Erik Shell.

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