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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Third Annual Conference: Temple/Carleton Consortium on Women, Marriage and the Household from Antiquity to the Present: An Interdisciplinary, Global Conference 

WOMEN AND RITUAL ACTS

When: May 12-14, 2022

Where: Temple University Rome: Lungotevere Arnaldo da Brescia, 15 and Virtual participation available via Zoom

Co-DirectorsKaren Klaiber Hersch and Jaclyn Neel

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 04/20/2022 - 10:44am by .

Call for Applications: Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection
Hellenic (formerly Library) Research Fellowship Program 2022-2023

**Contingent on continued on-campus operations during 2022-2023 academic year**

Thanks to generous ongoing funding from the Elios Charitable Foundation, the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Foundation, and the Tarbell Family Foundation, the University Library is pleased to offer the continuation of the Hellenic (formerly Library) Research Fellowship Program (HRFP) for a 10th year. The name change is intended to better convey and reflect the focus of the program. The Program supports the use of the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection by fellows for scholarly research in Hellenic studies while in residence in Sacramento, CA.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Wed, 04/20/2022 - 10:01am by .

As the annual meeting program submission deadlines approach, we have had a few reports from people who can't log into the program submission site but can log into our main website (https://classicalstudies.org)

In order to address these difficulties, we've made some technical adjustments. As of today (4/19/22), if you are an active member, you will be able to log into both sitesclassicalstudies.org and the program submission system. If you are not an active member for 2022, you will not be able to log into either site. 

You can check your membership status at https://scs.press.jhu.edu/membership/log-in

If you are planning to make a submission, please do not leave it until the last minute to check your membership status. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 04/19/2022 - 7:42am by Helen Cullyer.
SASA reading groups flyer

SASA (Save Ancient Studies Alliance) is looking for experienced and passionate educators for a paid role during the summer! SASA has received a generous grant of $10,000 from the Delmas Foundation to support their Summer Mini-Reading Groups.

These groups are small, informal discussion groups, centered on ancient texts! They are free to participants, and are hosted on Zoom. We are now looking for talented and dedicated academics to lead 3 and 8 week reading groups.

See here for more details, and read the Call for Applications.

View full article. | Posted in Summer Programs on Tue, 04/19/2022 - 7:23am by Helen Cullyer.
A white marble statue of a nude man holding a smaller old man on his shoulder with a child behind his legs. The old man carries a statue.

In an April 2020 post for Eidolon, I gathered predictions on “classics after coronavirus.” Two years later, it’s hard to believe all that’s changed — and all that’s stayed the same. Thanks to advocacy for more inclusive and global approaches to antiquity, the term “classics” can scarcely be used without scare quotes. Even the simple preposition “after” seems hopelessly outdated: we’re all learning to live and work alongside a virus that’s here to stay.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 04/13/2022 - 10:35am by .
Title: Papyrus in Greek regarding tax issues (3rd ca. BC.)  Currently in the Metropolitan Mueum of Art. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/251788 Source: Wikipedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Papyrus_in_Greek_regarding_tax

Digital Corpus of Literary Papyri Workshop

Where: Carleton University, Ottawa

When: July 6–8 2022

The College of the Humanities at Carleton University is partnering with the University of Manitoba to offer a three-day practical workshop on the Digital Corpus of Literary Papyri (DCLP) in Ottawa, July 6–8 2022.

View full article. | Posted in Summer Programs on Mon, 04/11/2022 - 10:19am by .

The 2021-2022 SCS Nominating Committee, co-chaired by C.W. (Toph) Marshall and Patrice Rankine, has worked hard through the late Fall 2021 and early 2022. The Committee is pleased to present the complete slate of candidates for election in Summer 2022. All candidates listed below have agreed to stand. SCS will publish candidate statements in the early summer and online voting will begin as usual on or around August 1.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 04/08/2022 - 2:17pm by Helen Cullyer.
Four stone columns in the shape of women dressed in drapery stand at the front of a stone building with a green, domed roof.

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 132 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, UK, Italy, Greece, Spain, Belgium, Ghana, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and India.

This post discusses four AnWoMoCo funded projects: an outreach program in CT called “Ancient Worlds in Our Community” (AWOC); a new adaptation of the Oresteia in Long Island; the publication of a book on Neoclassical influences on Chicago architecture; and Project Nota, a database of women Latin authors from all periods.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 04/08/2022 - 10:54am by .

The Politics of Archaism in the Imperial Period

An international colloquium at the University of Bristol (1 July 2022)

This colloquium is generously sponsored by the Institute of Greece, Rome, and the Classical Tradition, the University of Bristol, the Classical Association, and the Institute of Classical Studies. Its scope is to stimulate research on a crucial aspect of Roman Imperial culture, namely the widespread employment of archaism in Greek and Latin by the most authoritative intellectuals of the period, such as Dio of Prusa, Lucian of Samosata, Maximus of Tyre, and Aelius Aristides for Greek; Fronto, Apuleius, and Aulus Gellius for Latin.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Tue, 04/05/2022 - 1:13pm by .

The Department of Classics at UCLA is pleased to announce the following opportunity designed to advance the department's goals of diversity and inclusion. The department is offering a one-year tuition scholarship for our post-baccalaureate program in Classics for the academic year 2022-2023, designed to benefit a promising candidate for graduate work who needs an extra year of preparation in the ancient languages before applying to graduate programs in Classical Studies.  Members of groups who contribute to the University’s diversity—including members of groups that have been historically and are presently underrepresented in the academy (e.g., racial and ethnic minorities and individuals from low income backgrounds) are especially encouraged to apply. Applicants should have completed a bachelor’s program or equivalent in Classics or a related field and must be legally authorized to work/study in the United States at the time of submitting the application.  

 

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Tue, 04/05/2022 - 12:48pm by .

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