Presidential Letter - Annual Meeting Location (Pt. 2)

In my most recent letter, I outlined the reasons why there are so few cities that can accommodate the SCS-AIA Joint Annual Meeting. That constraint has mainly to do with facilities, and it will likely remain even if we decide to meet at another time of year. In fact, it could get worse, because at another time we might face more competition from the corporate sector, and thus higher costs. But there are good reasons to consider meeting at another time of year, anyway.

Before we get to that, why do we meet when we do in the first place? Many will remember that we once met between Christmas and New Year’s Day, which was a more advantageous time than the current one in certain ways. There was no chance of interfering with anyone’s teaching schedule. Not only had the climate not yet got out of control, but the December date remains less subject to outlandish weather (at least so far). And hotel rates are lower then, because most people are at home with their families. But, in fact, families are the main reason that we, and other learned societies, made the change that we did. (Credit for this goes largely to the WCC and to analogous organizations in other disciplines.) Some years ago, as we realized that the current date tended to interfere with the start of the new semester at some schools, we revisited the question of when to meet. SCS actually voted to go back to the old date, and AIA voted for a date in November. Staying put was everyone’s second choice, and that about sums it up. But what would we say now?

As I wrote in my previous letter, all of these decisions are predicated on one assumption:

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

I’ve already made the point that SCS members and AIA members, when they were last polled, could not agree on a first choice of when to meet, and that both sides were willing to compromise, in preference to parting ways. It probably won’t be any easier to agree on meeting at some other time. Summers are impossible for AIA, because so many of their members are in the field. For SCS members, on the other hand, meeting when classes are in session has never had much appeal. One reason is that there are already quite a few meetings during the fall or spring semester that many of our members usually attend. Among Classics organizations, CAAS meets in the middle of the fall, CANE and CAPN in March, and CAMWS also in the late spring. Besides those, there are ASOR and SBL in November, CAA in February, and AAH in April. This is not an exhaustive list, but you get the picture.

Before deciding that we should stand pat on timing, but focus on meeting in warm-weather cities, please remember a point I made in my previous letter, and let me add another.

First, the universe of possible venues is pretty small, barely more than two dozen cities, of which only half a dozen are really attractive to members (not because they say they want to go there, but because they actually do); and the majority of these are not warm-weather cities. In fact, most of the warmer venues draw significantly fewer members than the colder ones.

Second, holding a winter meeting in a warm city doesn’t guarantee that your travel will be trouble-free. The last time we met in the South, I personally had my worst SCS travel adventure ever. My plane left balmy San Antonio, a city I love to  visit, right on time, but was barely able to touch down in Atlanta because of a massive blizzard that was heading up the east coast, closing every airport in its path. After two days in Atlanta, I was booked on a flight home to Philadelphia through Detroit, where again the airport was shut down moments after I landed. I did finally make it home, but four days later than I expected. The obvious point is that the air travel system is a system, and your plans can be ruined either because of where you are, where you have to go, where you have to change planes, or even because of something that happened in a different part of the country altogether.

In spite of all that, it may be that when we currently meet is still on balance the best time, or the least bad time, to meet; I’m not convinced of that, but it’s not impossible. On the other hand, while a different time will bring with it different problems that we can’t foresee, we shouldn’t let that stop us from making a change if that seems the best thing, or even the least bad thing, to do.

Most of you will have thought of all this, but I thought it was worth just putting it in writing before we get started on a decision-making process. We will do that as soon as we can confer with the AIA leadership, but in the meantime, I invite you to write me informally with any thoughts you may have about when and where we should meet in the future.

- Joe Farrell

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From the Truman State University Index:

"Despite its small numbers, the classics department remains alive even though their languages are ancient. There are 19 declared classics majors, five of whom will graduate this year, 27 minors and four full-time staff members, said Clifton Kreps, classical and modern language department chair. The Missouri Department of Higher Education reviewed all programs with fewer than 10 graduates a year during Fall 2010. Truman State thus was required to provide a written justification and answer a questionnaire regarding enrollment data for the small number of graduates in classics, along with art history, Russian, German, interdisciplinary studies and bachelors of music. The explanation satisfied the MDHE for the time being, but another review is scheduled for 2014. No further information regarding the format or consequences of the next review has been provided to the University."

Read more here.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 01/16/2012 - 2:48am by Information Architect.

Adam Kirsch reviews Rome: Day One, Rome and Rhetoric, The Romans and Their World, Caligula, Invisible Romans, and Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History in the January 9th issue of The New Yorker. An abstract of the review is available online for free; subscribers have full access.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 01/16/2012 - 2:41am by Information Architect.

"You might not think that a collaboration to study the chemical and physical properties of ancient Attic pottery would have anything to do with space missions, but, well, you'd be mistaken. Earlier this year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded nearly $500,000 to scientists from the Getty Conservation Institute, Stanford's National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) and the Aerospace Corporation to do just that."

Read more at discovery.com.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sun, 01/01/2012 - 7:31pm by Information Architect.

"Emmett L. Bennett Jr., a classicist who played a vital role in deciphering Linear B, the Bronze Age Aegean script that defied solution for more than 50 years after it was unearthed on clay tablets in 1900, died on Dec. 15 in Madison, Wis. He was 93. His daughter Cynthia Bennett confirmed the death. Professor Bennett was considered the father of Mycenaean epigraphy — that is, the intricate art of reading inscriptions from the Mycenaean period, as the slice of the Greek Bronze Age from about 1600 to 1200 B.C. is known. His work, which entailed analysis so minute that he could eventually distinguish the handwritings of many different Bronze Age scribes, helped open a window onto the Mycenaean world."

Read the entire obituary online at The New York Times.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Sun, 01/01/2012 - 4:28pm by .

APA Annual Meeting Session 35 (Saturday, January 7, 11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m., Marriott Grand Ballroom I), is a discussion of the literary, historical, art historical, religious, and political possibilities raised by John Miller's Goodwin Prize-Winning book.  Incoming President-Elect Denis Feeney will be the moderator.  Panelists will briefly summarize their papers but will not read them in their entirety so as to leave more time for discussion.  The papers are therefore posted here.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 12/30/2011 - 4:01pm by Adam Blistein.

To complement her Presidential Panel, “Images for Classicists,” to be held at the 2012 Joint Meeting of the APA/AIA in Philadelphia, Kathleen Coleman has assembled an online resource to help scholars locate and use images in their teaching and research.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 12/26/2011 - 5:59pm by .

 By Kathleen Coleman, President, 2011

As a one-off project in 2011, the year in which the citations for award winners were curtailed for delivery at the annual meeting, the then President, Kathleen Coleman, conducted interviews with the 2010 prize-winners, to give them more prominence than the new format at the annual meeting allowed. The interviews are archived here for their intrinsic value. This site is not part of a series, but simply a unique exercise showcasing the dedication and talent of members of the Classics profession at a specific moment in its history, and memorializing their example.

The citations for the APA award winners are eloquent testimony to their excellence.  But what do the winners themselves think about the job they do and how to do it?  Along the lines of the former “Questions for . . .” column by Deborah Solomons in the New York Times Magazine and its successor, “The interview” by Andrew Goldman, the President set about finding out over the course of the year via Skype.

Click on the links below to read the Q&A for …

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 12/26/2011 - 5:52pm by .

The complete 2012 Annual Meeting Program is now posted. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 12/23/2011 - 6:31pm by Adam Blistein.

"In a scene out of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, John Cleese’s character asked: “Apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?” Turns out the plebeians and freemen of ancient Rome had it pretty good, at least compared to today’s “working” class in the United States. A pair of historians recently concluded that the richest 1% of the population in the Roman Empire controlled about 16% of the wealth. Here in America, that deep-pocketed sliver of society owns some 40% of it."

Read more at Marketwatch.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:58pm by Information Architect.

The Academy Vivarium Novum is offering four full tuition scholarships for high school students of the European Union (16-18 years old) and five full tuition scholarships for University students (18-24 years old) of any part of the world. The scholarships will cover all of the costs of room, board, teaching and didactic materials for courses to be held from January 10, 2011 until June 16, 2012 on the grounds of the Academy’s campus at Rome (Via Corrado Barbagallo, 20).

Application letters must be sent to info@vivariumnovum.it by January 5th in order to receive consideration.

A good knowledge of the fundamental of Latin and Greek is required (students must have covered at least the contents of the first 20 chapters of Ørberg’s Familia Romana and of the first 7 chapters of Balme’s and Lawall’s Athenaze).

The courses will be as follows:

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Mon, 12/19/2011 - 10:18pm by Adam Blistein.

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