Reminder: 2020 Annual Meeting Seminars

2020 Annual Meeting: Seminars

*Sign up period ending soon!*

For the first time since 2016, the SCS will be holding four seminars at this year’s annual meeting.

Seminars as a rule concentrate on more narrowly focused topics and aim at extensive discussion. In order to allow the time to be spent mainly on discussion, the SCS publishes a notice about the session in advance, and organizers distribute copies of the papers (normally three or four in number) to be discussed to those who request them.  Attendance at a seminar will, if necessary, be limited to the first 25 people who sign up. Seminars are normally three hours in length. Registered meeting attendees may sign up at no additional cost for one or more of these seminars during the month of October.

Third Paper Session, Friday, January 3, 1:45-4:45 PM

State Elite? Senators, Emperors and Roman Political Culture 25BCE-400CE (Seminar)
John Weisweiler, St John's College, University of Cambridge, Organizer

In the first four centuries CE, senators were the most powerful men in western Eurasia. They were the largest landowners in the world and exercised a near monopoly on top government posts in the Roman empire. Ideologically, senatorial power was buttressed by the memory of Republican self-government. Yet it was an embarrassing truth that senators needed the Roman monarchy. All senior office-holders were appointed by the emperor. In order to control their estates, senators relied on the coercive apparatus of the Roman state. Finally, imperial law guaranteed the domination of male office-holders over their wives and daughters, and their property rights over slaves.

This seminar traces the evolution of the difficult relationship between emperor and senate in the longue durée. At least since Tacitus, Roman historians conceived of the interaction between senators and emperors in terms of antagonism. But recent scholarship has shown that this Republican paradigm does not fully capture the complexity of this relationship. In four case studies, our seminar explores the changing place of senators in Roman society from the Early Empire until Late Antiquity.

  1. John Weisweiler, University of Cambridge
    The Heredity of Senatorial Status in the Early Empire
  2. Josiah Osgood, Georgetown University
    Senatorial Women in the Early Principate: Power without Office
  3. Monica Hellström, Durham University
    Respectful Distance? Diocletian, Rome, and the Senatorial Elite
  4. Michele Salzman, University of California, Riverside
    The Constantinian Revolution and the Resilience of Roman Senators

Noel Lenski, Yale University
Response (15 minutes)

Sign Up Here

Sixth Paper Session, Saturday, January 4, 1:45-4:45 PM

New Perspectives on the Atlantic Façade of the Roman World (Seminar)
Carlos F. Norena, University of California, Berkeley, Organizer

This seminar investigates the dynamic and sweeping Atlantic façade of the Roman world. In the context of the Roman empire as a whole, the Atlantic rim—a macroregion that traces a natural arc from southern Ireland and southwest Britain, across the Atlantic littoral of Gaul and the Iberian peninsula, to the Strait of Gibraltar and the far northwestern corner of the African continent—may be seen as a sort of ecological “frontier.” It was defined by the ocean itself: wild, dangerous, unimaginably immense.

This Atlantic façade has been almost wholly ignored in studies of the Roman empire as a political and economic system—unrecognized, it seems, as a coherent geographical unit of historical analysis. There is now a rapidly growing amount of literature on Atlantic commerce during the Roman period, but the relevant studies are technical and highly specialized. The scholarship on frontier zones, political economy, commercial networks, and provincial cultures and identities has been mostly blind to the Atlantic façade as such. This seminar examines the Roman Atlantic from these perspectives.

The main goal of this seminar is to identify a potentially major new area of research on the Roman world—the Atlantic façade of the Roman empire as a frontier zone that was every bit as dynamic as those to the south, east, and north—and to illustrate, through a series of macro- and micro-histories, how this oceanic corridor might be incorporated into histories of the Mediterranean basin and its continental hinterlands during the centuries of Rome’s ascendancy.

  1. Greg Woolf, Institute of Classical Studies, London
    Building the Atlantic Super-Seaway in the Roman Period
  2. Carlos F. Norena, University of California, Berkeley
    Atlantic Commerce and Social Mobility in Southwestern Iberia
  3. Elva Johnston, University College, Dublin
    The Atlantic Histories of Late Antique Ireland
  4. Nicholas Purcell, University of Oxford
    The Ocean of Mount Atlas: Atlantic History and/in the Ancient World

Sign Up Here

Sixth Paper Session, Saturday, January 4, 1:45-4:45 PM

Women in Rage, Women in Protest: Feminist Approaches to Ancient Anger (Seminar)
Erika L. Weiberg, Florida State University, and Mary Hamil Gilbert, Birmingham-Southern College, Organizers

In the past year alone, three books by feminist writers have taken up the subject of women’s rage. These writers acknowledge that women’s anger has been historically suppressed, pathologized, and punished, but focus on the potential for rage to function as a resource for revolutionary change and empowerment. Employing feminist approaches to the ancient world, this seminar considers women’s rage in ancient Greece and Rome as protest, refusal, or resource for change. It also interrogates the relevance of ancient women’s rage, real and imaginary, to these discourses of contemporary feminism.

From Thetis and Demeter to the enslaved women in Plautus’ Casina, women in Greco-Roman literature raged against injustice. This rage, however, took different forms depending upon the women’s identity and status. The maternal rage of goddesses and citizen-women alike (e.g., Medea, Amata) was recognized as effective, if disruptive, in the public sphere, whereas enslaved women, enraged at sexual abuse and other injuries, had no public outlet for expressing their anger, but resorted to private methods instead. Scholars of the emotions in antiquity have analyzed the punitive force of ancient anger, used by men to keep women in their place. In addition, classicists have dissected misogynistic tropes characterizing women as quick to anger or unable to restrain their emotions. In light of recent events, however, some of the work on this subject requires re-evaluation. Less attention has been paid, finally, to women’s anger in antiquity as critique of injustice, as private or public refusal of the status quo, and as resource for pushing back against patriarchal structures. Did ancient women’s rage work in these ways, too, as protest, refusal, or resource for existing in a patriarchal society?

The papers in this seminar address this question by bringing together new approaches to the use of anger by women, real and imaginary, elite and non-elite in antiquity. These papers treat a variety of genres and time periods, from Greek and Roman tragedy to magical papyri, from Roman elegy to Herodotus. Considered together, they provide an urgent re-assessment of women’s anger in historical perspective and open new ways of understanding ancient women’s rage as relevant to or at cross-purposes with the aims of contemporary feminism.

  1. Suzanne Lye, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Putting Pressure on the Patriarchy: The Subversive Power of Women's Anger in Ancient Greek Literature and Magic
  2. Erika L. Weiberg, Florida State University
    The Problem of the Angry Woman and Herodotus’ Use of Tragedy in Two Athenian Logoi
  3. Ellen Cole Lee, Fairfield University
    Irata Puella: Gaslighting, Violence, and Anger in Elegy
  4. Mary Hamil Gilbert, Birmingham-Southern College
    Furor Frustrated: Policing Women’s Anger in the Pseudo-Senecan Octavia

Sign Up Here

Seventh Paper Session, Sunday, January 5, 8-11 AM

Translating ‘Evil’ in Ancient Greek and Hebrew and Modern American Culture (Seminar)
Thomas G Palaima, University of Texas at Austin, Organizer

In this seminar, we propose to discuss what constituted ‘evil’ for the ancient Greeks and how we negotiate the differences between the historical Greek past and our own present in the many forms of ‘translation’ required to explain ancient Greek culture, not only to our students but to scholars in other disciplines and the educated public who take our courses, read our specialized monographs and articles, or use what we think, say and write in various public spheres.

We choose ‘evil’ because it is a big concept and a big challenge, but it also has a fixed point of transition where three important cultural strands (Israelite, Greek and Roman) that influenced our modern culture interacted with one another. ‘Evil’ also can and must be examined from various perspectives: linguistic, historical, literary and comparative literary, psychological, philosophical, anthropological, theological and political.

Tragedies are central to modern studies of ancient Greek ideas and ancient Greek judgments of human behavior and systems of ethics and justice. Recall how John Kekes (1990) pinpoints Polymestor in the Hecuba as the only character in surviving Greek tragedy who satisfies his moral definition of ‘evil’.

We think this seminar can, and again, must, combine detailed discussions of particular passages of ancient languages, literature, history, and philosophy with big questions that would be of interest to mass media, including general periodicals, that look at political, social, or cultural issues. 

  1. Aren Max Wilson-Wright, University of Zurich
    In Search of the Root of All Evil: Is There a Concept of ‘Evil’ in the Hebrew Bible?
  2. Diane Arnson Svarlien, Independent Scholar
    Just Some Evil Scheme: Translating ‘Badness’ in the Plays of Euripides
  3. Thomas G Palaima, University of Texas at Austin
    Evil (Not) Then and Evil Now: A Test Case in ‘Translating’ Cultural Notions

Sign Up Here

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(Photo: "_DSC7061" by rhodesj, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

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Please join us for the 37th Classical Association of New England Summer Institute On the theme “The Empire and the Individual”

July 13-18, 2020 / Brown University, Providence, RI
graduate credit available

The organizers of the CANE Summer Institute invite you to join us for a weeklong examination of peoples and cultures that comprised the Classical Greek and Roman worlds. We will consider what it meant to be (but) an individual amid the greater whole of an empire and what that can tell us about living in today’s world.

Whether you are a high school or college teacher of Latin and/or Greek, History, English, the Arts, or other related disciplines, an undergraduate or graduate student, or a devoted lifelong learner, you will enjoy a thoughtful and enriching experience that includes a wide variety of mini-courses, lectures, workshops, reading groups, and special events while also offering many opportunities for conversation and collegial interaction among participants

This summer’s 5-day mini-courses include:

He Longed for the Desert: Turning Your Back on Rome  John Higgins, Smith College

Romans and Italians: Empire-Making before the Social War Sailakshmi Ramgopal, Columbia University

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Thu, 09/19/2019 - 9:24am by Erik Shell.

Making Classics Public

A panel with Prof. Sarah Bond (University of Iowa) and Dr. Donna Zuckerberg (Editor-in-Chief, Eidolon)

Friday October 18
3:30-5:00 PM | Kresge 1515

Northwestern University,1880 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 

Part of #ClassicsNow: The Urgency of Re-Imagining Antiquity series

Making Classics Public is co-sponsored by the Society for Classical Studies

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(Photo from Northwestern University, used with permission)

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Thu, 09/19/2019 - 8:38am by Erik Shell.
The Society for Ancient Studies (SAS)—an interdisciplinary graduate student organization at New York University —is hosting its second-annual one-day undergraduate conference on the ancient world on Friday, February 7th, 2020 in Manhattan. This conference, organized and moderated by graduate students for talented and motivated undergraduates, will offer participants the opportunity to present their scholarship in the engaged professional setting of an academic conference. 

Participants will be expected to present a 15-minute paper to a forum of their undergraduate peers, graduate students, and NYU faculty. Submissions may be a condensed version, or a particularly strong chapter, of an undergraduate thesis, an exceptional course paper, or an independent research project. We welcome work informed by any and all theories and methodologies, and encourage submission from students working in any discipline (e.g. Classical Philology, Anthropology, Archaeology, History, etc.) or geo-temporal focus (e.g. Mediterranean and Atlantic Studies; Egyptology; Pre-Columbian, Near East, and East Asian Civilizations).

Food will be provided to all participants, and any audio-visual necessities will be arranged. Some local travel reimbursements will also be available.

ABSTRACT DEADLINE: Friday, November 22nd, 2019

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 09/17/2019 - 10:03am by Erik Shell.

The Classical Association of Ghana

2nd International Classics Conference in Ghana (ICCG)
8th to 11th October 2020

University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana

Theme: Global Classics and Africa: Past, Present, and Future

The late 1950s and early 1960s ushered in a period when many African countries were gaining political independence. Immediately, there was an agenda to unite African nations, and a policy of Africanization began to gain ground. In the area of education, this Africanization process was vigorously pursued. In Ghana the Institute of African Studies was established, and an Encyclopaedia Africana project, originally conceived by W. E. B. DuBois, was revived. In Nigeria, new universities were established to counter the colonial-based education that was present at the University of Ibadan, and in some East African countries there were fears that foreign university teachers would not be able to further the Africanization of university education.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 1:52pm by Erik Shell.

Honor and Shame in Classical Antiquity

Thirteenth Annual Graduate Conference in Classics
Friday, March 20, 2020
The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Keynote Speaker: Margaret Graver, Dartmouth College

Virtue, Cicero argues, seeks no other reward for its labors and dangers beyond that of praise and glory. From the earliest days of the ancient Mediterranean, the pursuit of honor and avoidance of shame have shaped societies’ value systems. Achilles wages war according to a strict honor code, while Hesiod’s personified goddess, Shame, is the last to depart the earth as a rebuke of humanity’s wickedness. Far from belonging to the static code of an aristocratic warrior class, as was once understood, honor and shame are increasingly seen as part of a complex and polyvalent ethical system. They manifest themselves not only in the heroic self-assertion of ancient epic but also in a variety of other arenas, such as, for example, philosophical treatises, gender relations and sexual mores, the lives of enslaved peoples, Athenian law and politics, the performance of Roman state identity, and religious belief.  Thus they are pervasive throughout literature, thought, and society in the ancient world.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 9:57am by Erik Shell.

High school Latin programs (along with Classics programs at the college or university level) are in perpetual peril, and keeping any program alive contributes to the ongoing effort to keep our field afloat and relevant, while also continuing to provide students with all of the benefits that we know that Latin offers. Monmouth College’s Classics Department spearheaded a successful, broad-based effort to resist the proposed elimination of the thriving Latin program at Monmouth-Roseville (IL) High School (MRHS) in Spring 2019.

This reflection is meant as a case study for understanding and then addressing the issue of threatened Latin programs across the country. I will lay out the factors and steps that led to the initial decision to drop the program, those that we discovered were critical in the eventual success of the resistance effort, and roles that a college or university Classics programs can play to retain their comrade programs, which cultivate many eventual Classics students and majors. 


Figure 1: Monmouth-Roseville High School in Monmouth, IL. Photo Credit: Robert Holschuh Simmons.

Background on the situation at Monmouth-Roseville 

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 09/12/2019 - 8:49pm by Robert Holschuh Simmons.

Sailing with the Gods: Religion and Maritime Mobility in the Ancient World

           Sponsored by: The Society for Ancient Mediterranean Religions

           Location: Grand Hotel Excelsior, Floriana, Malta

           Dates: June 17-21, 2020

           Ritual practices dedicated to maritime success appear across a wide span of human cultural history, from the Mediterranean to the North Sea, Southeast Asia across the Pacific to the west coast of the Americas. Culturally-constructed seafaring rituals could be seen as spiritual or superstitious, and respond to the combination of risk and profit endemic in even short voyages by water. Maritime religion infuses all water-borne contact across cultural boundaries; the crafts of those who build rafts, canoes, and sailing vessels; navigational skills which may reach back to ancestors who have faded into cultural legend; and myriad mnemonic and naming strategies extending to littoral markers and celestial patterns. Mythic and ritual responses are accordingly complex, ranging from apotropaia to the divine authorization of civic structures, shipboard shrines and functional epithets which could link divinities, heroes and nearly-deified rulers to the control of the waves and winds.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 2:33pm by Erik Shell.

Please find a list of award and fellowship deadlines for this Fall:

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 9:09am by Erik Shell.

ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World (from now on: Orbis) is an interactive scholarly web application that provides a simulation model of travel and transport cost in the Roman Empire around 200 CE. Walter Scheidel and his team at Stanford University designed and launched the site in 2011–12, and the project saw a significant upgrade in 2014 (the old version is still available). The project is currently concluded.

The aim of Orbis is to allow investigation of the concrete conditions of travel in the ancient world, with a particular focus on the 3rd-century Roman route and transportation network. Orbis is a response to the long-standing scholarly debate about visual representations and study of “spatial practice” in the premodern world: traditional mapping approaches fail to convey the complexity of the variables involved in travel practices and provide a flat view of phenomena that are strongly connected with space and movement, such as trade, economic control, and imperialism. Orbis was conceived to respond to the specific question of how travel and transport constraints affected the expansion of the Roman Empire.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 09/05/2019 - 10:02pm by Chiara Palladino.

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