Reminder: 2020 Annual Meeting Seminars

2020 Annual Meeting: Seminars

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.

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. Noreña, 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 period is closed)

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, Christian Wildberg, University of Pittsburgh, moderator and lead discussant

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
  4. Christian Wildberg, University of Pittsburgh, moderator and lead discussant
    Evil, Past and Present, from a Philosophical Perspective

Sign Up Here

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

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Body and Medicine in Latin Poetry’, which will take place online on the 17th and 18th September 2020. 

The ongoing epidemic crisis brought forth by the spread of Covid-19 compels us to rethink the concepts of body and disease in light of  their effect on human nature, as well as seek new methods to cope with the sense of anxiety and vulnerability generated by such pandemic diseases. 

This conference will navigate the relationship between Medical Science and Humanities in Antiquity, with papers exploring how medicine can be integrated into poetry and how poetry, in turn, can propagate medical knowledge across various social classes and cultural contexts. Further to that, the conference will explore the extent to which such a relationship reflects our individual concerns about the validity and consistence of medicine as a science of the Human.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Mon, 07/06/2020 - 5:57am by Erik Shell.

Finishing my third trimester in the midst of a pandemic was not what I had planned for the last months of pregnancy. Since the Ides of March, we have sequestered ourselves in our house in Iowa City and cancelled any and all social gatherings––including the planned baby shower––as has almost everyone else across the globe. Although I lamented not being able to celebrate with family and friends in person, every day it seemed, small book-shaped cardboard boxes began to populate the front stoop. Their opening revealed that our academic friends had sent us their favorite books in hopes that reading to our little one might bring comfort, amusement, and maybe a little sleep into our lives. As her library began to grow with the reading selections of our fellow classicists, archaeologists, and university librarians, the broad selection of children’s books focused on the ancient Mediterranean became apparent.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 07/03/2020 - 9:28am by Sarah E. Bond.

The new Classics Everywhere initiative, launched by the SCS in 2019, supports projects that seek to engage communities worldwide with the study of Greek and Roman antiquity in new and meaningful ways. As part of this initiative the SCS has been funding a variety of projects ranging from reading groups comparing ancient to modern leadership practices to collaborations with artists in theater, music, and dance. This post centers on projects that promote emotional well-being and use Greek texts to facilitate conversations on current social justice issues, from New York to Chicago and San Francisco.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 06/26/2020 - 7:31am by .

Dear members (and past Annual Meeting participants),

After extensive research and discussion, AIA and SCS staff and officers have decided that the January 2021 Joint Annual Meeting scheduled to take place from January 7-10 in Chicago will now be a virtual event. We know that many of you were looking forward to attending paper sessions and other events, to seeing old friends and colleagues, and to making new connections and we recognize that a virtual event cannot substitute in many ways for a face-to-face experience. However, after full consideration of the public health risks and significant impact of COVID-19 on the ability of most of you to travel to and participate in a large conference in the upcoming months, AIA and SCS have decided that a virtual event is the most prudent course.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 06/25/2020 - 7:13am by Helen Cullyer.

In 2018, a group of scholars founded Mountaintop Coalition, an SCS-affiliated group with a shared interest in advancing the professional goals of Classicists who identify as members of ethnic groups traditionally underrepresented in the field. Mountaintop’s activities focus on practical issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in professional settings.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 06/19/2020 - 8:30am by Samuel Ortencio Flores.

Froma I. Zeitlin retired from Princeton University in 2010, where she was the Charles Ewing Professor of Greek Language and Literature in the Department of Classics and Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature. Dr. Zeitlin received her B.A. from Radcliffe-Harvard in 1954 and her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1970. She is a specialist in Greek literature from Homer to late antiquity, with particular interests in epic, drama and prose fiction. Her publications include Under the Sign of the Shield: Semiotics and Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes (1982; 2d ed.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 06/12/2020 - 8:50am by Claire Catenaccio.

Alexander G. McKay Prize competition for the best new book in Vergilian studies is now open

The Vergilian Society is pleased to announce the opening of the next competition for the Alexander G. McKay Prize for the best book in Vergilian studies. The prize, which is accompanied by a cash award of $500 or a life membership in the Vergilian Society (valued at $800), is awarded every other year to the book that, in the opinion of the prize evaluation committee, makes the greatest contribution toward our understanding and appreciation of Vergil or topics related to Vergil. Works of literary criticism, biography, bibliography, textual criticism, reference, history, archaeology, and the classical tradition are all eligible, provided that Vergilian studies represent a significant portion of the discussion. The current competition will cover books published during the years 2018 and 2019. The winner will be announced at the Vergilian Society session at the annual meeting of the Society for Classical Studies in Chicago in January 2021. The authors of books being considered for the McKay Prize must be members of the Vergilian Society at the time their books are submitted; for new members or to renew memberships see https://www.vergiliansociety.org/memberships-and-donations.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Tue, 06/09/2020 - 6:54am by Erik Shell.

A longstanding tendency to ethnocentrism and Hellenophilia implicit in the narrative of the rebirth of Greek science in the Renaissance has shaped the historiography of science and early modern historiography more generally. However, a digital project called Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus (PAL) presents an interdisciplinary, broadly conceived, and ongoing (2013–2038) challenge to this , which lies at the crossroads of Classics, Arabic Studies, History of Science and Digital Humanities. It presents a wide range of primary sources as well as translations and critical editions. Given these unusual features some words of introduction are needed to better understand the relevance of this project for the humanities at large. 

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 06/05/2020 - 12:21pm by .

From the SCS Board of Directors, approved 6/3/20

The Society for Classical Studies condemns the relentless horror of police brutality and murder of black men, women, and children, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Rekia Boyd, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Rodney King, to name just a few of the victims. Brutality perpetrated by the police and others stands with mass incarceration and unequal access to healthcare, education, and housing as symptoms of longstanding systemic, structural, and institutional racism in American and European cultures. These are deep problems in society that will not be fixed without radical policy changes at every level of government and across all institutions.   

View full article. | Posted in Public Statements on Wed, 06/03/2020 - 6:20am by Helen Cullyer.

The new Classics Everywhere initiative, launched by the SCS in 2019, supports projects that seek to engage communities worldwide with the study of Greek and Roman antiquity in new and meaningful ways. As part of this initiative the SCS has been funding a variety of projects ranging from reading groups comparing ancient to modern leadership practices to collaborations with artists in theater, music, and dance. In this post we focus on digital projects that engage with ancient texts and discuss the study of Classics during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/29/2020 - 7:55am by .

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