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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"Before he became a Professor of literature at Harvard, and way before he wrote his classic Shakespeare biography, Will in The World, Stephen Greenblatt was an I'll-read-anything kind of kid. One day, he was standing in the campus book store, and there, in a bin, selling for ten cents (good price, even in 1961) he noticed a thin, little volume called On the Nature of Things, by a Roman writer named Lucretius. When he opened it, he found a description of how the universe came to be. Because Lucretius lived a couple of generations before the birth of Jesus, Stephen was expecting a tale of how gods, goddesses, earth, air, fire and water and an assortment of miracles created everything we see, but as he turned the pages, he says 'his jaw dropped' and 'his head began to burst open,' because Lucretius' creation story doesn't feel remotely ancient. First of all, it's a radically secular account, ignoring gods, goddesses, heaven, hell, life after death, and intelligent design, but more surprising, its logic is eerily, almost spookily modern." Read more, or listen to the interview at NPR.org.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 09/19/2011 - 5:20pm by Information Architect.

"Fragments of ancient, rare manuscripts of Greek classical poetry, Greek philosophy and Judeo-Christian Scriptures are being retrieved from papier-mâché-like mummy wrappings on loan to Baylor University -- all part of an international project that will give undergraduate humanities students rare hands-on research. The project, called the Green Scholars Initiative, eventually will include more than 100 universities, with Baylor University as the primary academic research partner. Professor-mentors will guide students through research and publication of articles about rare and unpublished documents, among them an ancient Egyptian dowry contract on loan to Kent State University and an ancient papyrus of Greek statesman Demosthenes' famed "On the Crown" Speech, said Dr. Jerry Pattengale, initiative director and a Distinguished Senior Fellow with Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion." Read more at baylor.edu …

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Wed, 09/14/2011 - 1:59am by Information Architect.

"New technology developed by Oxford University’s classics department could help reveal the secrets of historical documents. A spin-out firm is commercialising the scanning device, which uses different wavelengths of light to detect faded or erased ink, for analysing manuscripts and archived documents, as well as modern forgeries. ‘The technical leaps we made mean many ancient documents that were previously unreadable can now be scanned and read,’ said Dr Dirk Obbink, head of the research group that developed the scanner."

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Wed, 09/14/2011 - 1:57am by Information Architect.

The Philadelphia Marriott Downtown Hotel will serve as the headquarters hotel for the 143rd Annual Meeting. The Convention Registration area, the Exhibit Hall, all AIA and APA paper sessions, the Placement Service offices, all placement interviews, and most committee meetings, receptions, and special events will be located in Marriott.  The primary guest room block will also be at the Marriott. Some meetings, receptions, and special events will be held at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, located directly across the street from the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. Additional guest rooms have been blocked at the Loews as well.  Links to the online registration system and to information about hotel reservations are now posted on the APA web site.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 09/07/2011 - 3:22pm by Adam Blistein.

From John Gruber-Miller:

I am pleased to announce that the latest issue of Teaching Classical Languages, the online journal sponsored by CAMWS, is now available at http://www.tcl.camws.org.  This issue features two articles and a review article.  The first article asks us to consider the broader question of how do we teach, using the metaphor of genre to frame our reflections. And the second article explores how we teach Latin to students whose first language is Spanish and second language is English. Finally, the third article reviews eight new Latin readers published as part of the Bolchazy-Carducci new Latin Readers series.

This issue lets readers take advantage of TCL's electronic publication.  Readers now have the opportunity to download each article to an e-reader so that they can read TCL in the comfort of their home or favorite coffee shop.  And through the advice and hard work of CAMWS webmaster Alex Ward, readers can make comments on the articles and join in a conversation with other readers (and the author) about ideas raised in each article.

In this issue:

View full article. | Posted in Member News on Tue, 09/06/2011 - 1:17am by .

Read the latest information about the APA's Gateway Campaign including updated lists of donations to six "Friends" funds honoring revered teachers in our field. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 08/19/2011 - 7:40pm by Adam Blistein.

Application instructions for this year's Minority Summer Scholarship Application have now been posted.   The application deadline is December 14, 2011.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 2:24pm by Adam Blistein.

The Loeb Classical Library Foundation will award grants to qualified scholars to support research, publication, and other projects in the area of classical studies during the academic year 2012-2013. Grants will normally range from $1,000 to $35,000 and may occasionally exceed that limit in the case of unusually interesting and promising projects. Three years must elapse after receiving an LCLF grant for sabbatical replacement before applying again for one. From time to time a much larger grant may be available, as funding permits, to support a major project. Applicants must have faculty or faculty emeritus status at the time of application and during the entire time covered by the grant.

Grants may be used for a wide variety of purposes. Examples include publication of research, enhancement of sabbaticals, travel to libraries or collections, dramatic productions, excavation expenses, or cost of research materials. Individual grant requests may be only partially funded. In exceptional circumstances a grant may be extended or renewed. A special selection committee will choose the persons to whom grants are to be awarded and recommend the amount of the grants.  

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Tue, 08/16/2011 - 7:30pm by Adam Blistein.

"This week in the magazine, Stephen Greenblatt explains how Lucretius and his poem 'On the Nature of Things' shaped the modern world. Here Greenblatt reads a passage from John Dryden’s translation of 'On the Nature of Things,' and talks with Blake Eskin about how the poem disappeared for a thousand years, how it was rediscovered, and the clash between Lucretius’ ideas and the Catholic church—and also Greenblatt’s Jewish mother." Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/online/2011/08/08/110808on_audio_greenblatt#ixzz1V1u18qeH

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sun, 08/14/2011 - 5:33pm by Information Architect.

The forthcoming digital version of the Loeb Classical Library will aim to make the treasures of ancient literature easier to find for non-classicists. Read more at InsideHighered.com.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Tue, 08/02/2011 - 12:04pm by Information Architect.

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