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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The Bridge, a digital humanities initiative out of Haverford College, allows users to generate customized vocabulary lists in both Greek and Latin. Bret Mulligan and a team of dedicated students have done an admirable job of adding texts to their database and are responsive to requests from users (both students and instructors). An accompanying blog helpfully documents the different updates as they are released, as well as a list of requested features, so users can get a sense of what’s in the works for The Bridge. Development has been funded both by Haverford College as well as by a Mellon Digital Humanities Grant and a program grant from the Classical Association of the Atlantic States (CAAS). There have also been collaborators from Bryn Mawr College and Laboratoire d’Analyse Statistique des Langues Anciennes (LASLA) at the Université de Liège, making this a model of a collaborative digital project that can draw on funding and labor from a number of institutions to create an open resource that helps all teachers and students.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 02/07/2020 - 6:37am by .

In 2020 the Society for Classical Studies (SCS) will again award the David D. and Rosemary H. Coffin Fellowship for study and travel in classical lands.

The Fellowship is intended to recognize secondary-school teachers of Greek or Latin who are as dedicated to their students as the Coffins themselves by giving them the opportunity to enrich their teaching and their lives through direct acquaintance with the classical world.  It will support study in classical lands (not limited to Greece and Italy); the recipient may use it to attend an educational program in (e.g. American Academy, American School) or to undertake an individual plan of study or research. It may be used either for summer study or during a sabbatical leave, and it may be used to supplement other awards or prizes.

For full details and instructions please visit the David D. and Rosemary H. Coffin Fellowship page. Materials must be received no later than February 27, 2020.

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View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 02/04/2020 - 12:35pm by Erik Shell.

Cultural Identity in Political Rhetoric: Past and Present

Society for Classical Studies 2021 Annual Meeting – January 7-10, Chicago, IL

Organizer: Tedd A. Wimperis (twimperis@elon.edu)

Rhetorical appeals to ethnic or civic identity were a mainstay of political discourse in the ancient Mediterranean. Arguments from cultural heritage and mythical kinship between peoples supported diplomatic negotiation; orators invoked values and traditions inherited from past generations to sway audiences; autocrats wove their personal iconography into the fabric of the “national story” to legitimize and authorize their power. Politically-guided ideations of identity were promoted through literature, art, architecture, coinage, and various forms of performance, and relied on effective appropriations of cultural symbolism and myth. Here and now in our own modern world, these kinds of discourse remain entrenched in political communication, from the extremes of ethno-nationalism to the commonplaces of campaign rhetoric, where appeals to “who we are” and “what our values are” appear explicitly and subtly in televised debates and hearings, tweets, billboards, and bumper stickers.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 02/04/2020 - 8:47am by Erik Shell.

“Koinonia” in Plato’s Philosophy

March 8-12, 2021
Pontifical Catholic University of Peru
Lima, Peru

Plato uses the term “Koinonia” in a wide variety of important ways.  It signifies the relation of the forms with each other as well as the relation we can have with them, but also both relations between individual people and between individuals and the community as a whole.  Although this term has been the object of intense scholarly scrutiny, many issues remain to be explored.  We will consider abstracts on any aspect of the subject, including the metaphysical, epistemological, social, and ethical dimensions of koinonia.

Submission guidelines:

1. Please submit titles and abstracts of 500 words (maximum), double-spaced, 12 point type, formatted for anonymous review

2. Name, Paper Title, Affiliation, Postal Address, Email Address included as an attachment in the email to which the abstract is sent

3. Abstracts can be in any of the IPS’s official languages: English, Spanish, German, Italian, French

4. Abstracts Submission Deadline: July 31, 2020.

5. All abstracts must be sent with the subject "IPS Mid-Term Meeting" to the following address: cef@pucp.edu.pe

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 01/31/2020 - 8:58am by Erik Shell.

On January 5, 2020, the SCS Board of Directors approved a name change for the Minority Scholarship in Classics and Classics Archaeology. The scholarships will now be known as the Frank M. Snowden Jr. Undergraduate Scholarships. The name change was recommended by President-Elect Shelley P. Haley and the SCS Committee on Diversity in the Profession.

The new name honors Frank M. Snowden Jr., the renowned black classicist, chair for many years of the Howard Classics Department, and author of Blacks in Antiquity, which won the Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit in 1973. Prof. Snowden was also a recipient of the National Humanities Medal and was elected by the SCS (then APA) membership to the position of second Vice President, serving in that role in 1983-84. According to the cursus honorum at the time, Prof. Snowden should have become President in 1986. However, he had to step down owing to poor health, which was a huge loss to the organization and the profession. You can read a full biography of Professor Snowden here.   

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Thu, 01/30/2020 - 9:49am by Helen Cullyer.

The tale of Orpheus and Eurydice has long been a popular myth in music, drama, literature, and film. Anais Mitchell’s recent musical sensation Hadestown (which was workshopped from 2006 and had an off-Broadway debut during the 2017-18 season) is but one example of the reworking of the legendary love story. Although Mitchell’s musical is broadly defined as a folk opera, it is just the latest instance amongst many pop culture reinterpretations of the Orpheus myth across different musical genres. The tragic tale of a famed musician who traveled to the underworld to retrieve his love from the grips of death has inspired several musicians during the 1990s and the 2000s. Many of these retellings have engaged with one of the most important themes of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth: the power of music and art to provide salvation.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 01/30/2020 - 9:29am by .

Please see our 2021 Annual Meeting page for a number of calls for abstracts from our affiliated groups, organizers of organizer-refereed panels, the Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance, and the Committee on Translations of Classical Authors.

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(Photo: "Handwritten" by A. Birkan, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 01/27/2020 - 5:45pm by Helen Cullyer.

Call for Abstracts: Greco-Roman Antiquity and White Supremacy

Society for Classical Studies Annual Meeting, Jan 7–10, 2021

Curtis Dozier, director of Pharos: Doing Justice to the Classics (pharosclassics.vassar.edu), invites the submission of abstracts on any aspect of the relationship of Greco-Roman Antiquity and White Supremacy. Selected abstracts will form a proposal for a panel on the topic to be held at the 2021 Society for Classical Studies annual meeting in Chicago, IL (Jan 7–10, 2021). If the SCS Program committee accepts our proposed panel, the Vassar College Department of Greek and Roman Studies will offer panelists who do not have tenured or tenure-track positions a $500 stipend toward the cost of attending the conference. Pharos is also offering a research service for those interested in preparing abstracts but who prefer not to visit White Supremacist websites (on which see below).

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 01/27/2020 - 11:46am by Erik Shell.

Flavian Sicily: An Academic Conference and Tour of Ancient Sites

Organizers: Antony Augoustakis and Joy Littlewood

Exedra Mediterranean Center
Syracuse, Sicily, 22-27 October 2020

Southern Italy and Sicily (including nearby islands) are featured in Flavian literature, most prominently Silius Italicus’ Punica among others, as places with a rich Greco-Roman history, exceptional fertility, and idyllic landscapes. This conference builds on many recent conferences on Flavian literature and published volumes (e.g., Campania in the Flavian Poetic Imagination, Oxford 2019) and aims to explore the representation and significance of the region in the literature of the period (69-96 CE). The goal of this conference is to bring scholars to Siracusa to discuss these works of literature and visit the sites mentioned and celebrated in our sources. Our conference will take place at the Exedra Mediterranean Center, adjacent to the Piazza Duomo on Ortigia. It will include academic presentations as well as visits to the archeological park and museum and various other sites in the city. We will also enjoy traditional Sicilian hospitality, with group dinners and catered lunches featuring local specialties.  At the conclusion of the conference, an optional tour of relevant sites will include Enna and Piazza Armerina, Agrigento, and Selinunte.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 01/27/2020 - 8:39am by Erik Shell.

In addition to presenting the latest research on Greco-Roman antiquity and the ancient Mediterranean, attendees at the SCS annual meeting have increasingly had the opportunity to discuss other important issues such as the history of Classics as a field; systemic concerns and directions for the future; and ways to make the field more accessible to people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. The SCS has recently also incorporated into the annual meeting lectures by influential artists and writers whose work draws on, adapts, and interprets ancient Greek and Roman texts for the broad public. Luis Alfaro, the Chicano playwright and performance artist, spoke about his adaptations of Greek tragedy during the 2019 annual meeting in San Diego, while this year in Washington, D.C., Madeline Miller, writer of best-selling novels Circe (2018) and Song of Achilles (2012), discussed imaginative takes on Homer’s epics. Their contributions to the field indicate the value in seeking out conversations with those who engage with the Greek and Roman worlds outside the Classics classroom.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 01/23/2020 - 11:00pm by .

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