Public Statement from the SCS Board of Directors

The mission of the Society for Classical Studies is “to advance knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the ancient Greek and Roman world and its enduring value.” That world was a complex place, with a vast diversity of peoples, languages, religions, and cultures spread over three continents, as full of contention and difference as our world is today.  Greek and Roman culture was shared and shaped for their own purposes by people living from India to Britain and from Germany to Ethiopia. Its medieval and modern influence is wider still. Classical Studies today belongs to all of humanity.

For this reason, the Society strongly supports efforts to include all groups among those who study and teach the ancient world, and to encourage understanding of antiquity by all. It vigorously and unequivocally opposes any attempt to distort the diverse realities of the Greek and Roman world by enlisting the Classics in the service of ideologies of exclusion, whether based on race, color, national origin, gender, or any other criterion. As scholars and teachers, we condemn the use of the texts, ideals, and images of the Greek and Roman world to promote racism or a view of the Classical world as the unique inheritance of a falsely-imagined and narrowly-conceived western civilization. 

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Greek Myth is one of the standbys of Classics general-education courses at colleges and universities across the United States.  These courses often have high enrollments and are populated by students with little prior knowledge about the ancient Mediterranean world who are taking the course to fulfill a degree requirement.  They may take Myth because of a lifelong interest in the stories (or because they’ve read the Percy Jackson series), they may be inspired to major in Classics by the course, or they may never read or think about Graeco-Roman culture after the term ends.

A common way of teaching the Myth survey course is like a panorama, a wide-angle shot that tries to fit in as much content as possible from a high-altitude perspective.  I took a different approach in my fall 2013 Greek Myth course at Wake Forest University — a closeup, zooming in on one specific ancient myth-cycle in elaborate detail.  Rather than try to cover Graeco-Roman mythology from Chaos to Romulus, encountering tidbits of art and literature from Homer to Ovid, my course focused on just one mythic figure, and students studied every major visual and textual treatment of that figure that survives from the ancient world.

The myth-cycle I selected was Herakles/Hercules.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 02/17/2014 - 12:22pm by T. H. M. Gellar-Goad.

Due to bad weather conditions, the University of Pennsylvania has suspended normal operations for February 13, 2014.  The APA Office will therefore be closed as well.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 02/12/2014 - 8:27pm by Adam Blistein.

In my post last month I referred to the crucial role that study abroad played in my formation as a classicist, and the papers delivered at a panel on study-abroad programs at this year’s annual meeting showed that I am not alone. Those papers (by McGinn, Severy-Hoven, Thakur, Morris, and Romano) spoke eloquently of the profound impact on students of exploring the remains of ancient Greece and Rome and their continuities with the present. It is easy to dismiss the American form of “junior year abroad” as lightweight, but if we allow ourselves a broad perspective on what constitutes worthwhile learning in the humanities—as I argued we should last month—it is clear that study abroad provides unparalleled opportunities for such education.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 02/12/2014 - 4:16pm by Curtis Dozier.

Within the next two weeks we will post a link to the online system we will use this year to receive submissions of abstracts and proposals and reports for review by the APA Program Committee.  Proposals for at-large panels, committee panels, workshops, seminars, and roundtable discussion sessions; reports by organizer-refereed panels and affiliated groups chartered to present sessions in January 2015; and applications for charters for 2016 and beyond will be due on April 25, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. The deadline for submission of individual abstracts will be May 16, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. EDT.  In the interim, see this document describing the materials required for each type of submission.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 02/07/2014 - 3:24pm by Adam Blistein.

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is pleased to announce today a $500,000 grant from the late Ernest L. Pellegri, one of the Foundation's donors, to the University of Maryland's Department of Classics.

Their project entitled, "Between Washington and Ancient Rome: The NIAF Pellegri Program on Roman Antiquity and Its Legacy in America," was selected to receive the NIAF Ernest Pellegri Grant to support the study of Latin, ancient Roman archeology, and ancient Roman civilization; and to offer opportunities for students to study abroad, conduct research, and pursue fellowships in the United States and Italy.

For more, go to http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/umd-study-roman-impact-american-identity.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 02/06/2014 - 1:24pm by Information Architect.

A recent painful loss to our profession came with the death of John Rettig.  He was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He graduated magna cum laude from the Honors A.B. Program at Xavier University in 1953 and was awarded the M.A. in Classics the following year.  The next two years were given to military duties, which he fulfilled while stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco.  After separation from the army, he returned home and taught English and Latin for four years in the Cincinnati public school system, but then returned to formal studies at The Ohio State University, where he earned the Ph D. in 1963.  His work on his dissertation, “The Latinity of Martin of Braga”, under the direction of Professor Clarence Forbes, seems to have set the stage for his future primary research interest, the Church Fathers.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 02/03/2014 - 9:41am by Adam Blistein.

Expanding the Reach of Doctoral Education in the Humanities

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) invites applications for the fourth competition of the Public Fellows program. The program will place 20 recent humanities Ph.D.s in two- year staff positions at partnering organizations in government and the nonprofit sector. This career-launching initiative aims to demonstrate that the capacities developed in the advanced study of the humanities have wide application, both within and beyond the academy.

In 2014, Public Fellows have the opportunity to join one of the following organizations:

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Mon, 01/27/2014 - 3:14pm by Adam Blistein.

It was recently reported that the EU, in the face of continuing economic hardship, may contemplate scaling back its rules on carbon emissions. Here in the United States climate change remains a political football, as established science is denied by politicians and every effort is made to obfuscate the facts and create the illusion of uncertainty where, in reality, none exists. As many of us endured the recent “polar vortex” that dropped temperatures across much of the country to Arctic levels (and stranded castaways at the Annual Meeting hotel), we were treated to the spectacle of pundits and other climate-change deniers scoffing at the notion of “global warming,” since it was cold outside. Indeed.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 01/27/2014 - 1:19pm by Garrett Fagan.

Classical studies as we know it today grew partly from the pressure of politics — from people’s need for a repertoire of words and images that could respond to the new political possibilities in early modern Europe.  When Coluccio Salutati studied Latin prose composition at his boarding school in Bologna, he focused on the art of letter-writing (the ars dictaminis), as generations of Italian boys had done before him.  But his teacher also lectured on Cicero and other classical authors — and as Salutati’s career took him to the chancellorships of Todi, Lucca, and Florence, his administrative vision was broadened by his knowledge of classical history and moral philosophy.  

Leonardo Bruni, Salutati’s disciple from Arezzo, drew on Athenian and Roman ideals to create a compelling picture of secular civic virtue that could absorb and transcend dominant Christian ideals. In his famous letter to his friend Francesco Vettori, Machiavelli took note of the “capital” he made from conversation with classical authors, which inspired him to write “a little work De Principatibus, where I delve as deeply as I can into reflections on this subject, debating what a principality is, of what kinds they are, how they are acquired, how they are maintained, why they are lost.”  

View full article. | Posted in on Sun, 01/26/2014 - 8:38pm by Joy Connolly.

One of the great things about working on a commentary is the random avenues it leads you down.  What starts out looking like an unpromising bit of text turns out to raise issues about the ancient world that you’d never have thought of. Before you know it, you’re discovering all kinds of obscure debates, bizarre ancient texts, and random pieces of trivia: it’s the scholarly equivalent of link-surfing on wikipedia.

My most recent experience of this began with one of Archilochus’ least known fragments, 217 West, 'with hair shorn away from the shoulders close to the skin'. Not a line that sets the world on fire, all things considered. It might well have been really interesting in its original context, but we don’t know anything about it,  since the line is quoted  simply as an example of accentuation. But where it led me to was the wonderful world of Greek haircuts, and in particular to two notorious haircuts of the modern era, the bowl cut and the mullet.

View full article. | Posted in on Sun, 01/26/2014 - 10:52am by Laura Swift.

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