SCS 2018 Collegiate Teaching Award Citations

The SCS Teaching Excellence Awards Committee is delighted to announce the 2018 Awards for Excellence in Teaching of the Classics at the College Level.

Please join us in congratulating these excellent educators.

Monessa Cummins, Grinnell College

Monessa Cummins has taught at Grinnell College for nearly thirty-five years, and she has taught almost every course offered by her department, from her original expertise in Greek poetry to Greek and Roman history and archaeology and art and Latin and Greek, to study abroad in Greece.  This is a reality for many who teach at small institutions, as is the prevalence of unrecorded overloads with individual students or small groups. But Dr. Cummins, according to both students and faculty colleagues, does all of this, and does it extraordinarily well.  Everyone speaks of her high standards, but also of the riveting way she conducts her classes, such that, to quote her nomination letter, “the students are all on and with her the whole time”: no internet in the back row here!  She incorporates a variety of newer pedagogies into her classroom, while also grounding students in the basics, not just of Classics: in lecture courses, one student is assigned to be the “recorder” for each session, and that student reviews the material for two minutes at the start of the following class meeting.  So too, one letter reports, students who have no interest in the Classical world sign up for her classes because they know it will – she will – make them better writers. 

Dr. Cummins is also, just as clearly, a role model to her students outside of the classroom.  Student letters abound with stories of her humanity, her caring attitude, and her strictness.  It goes without saying that at a place like Grinnell a teacher like Dr. Cummins is legendary: while the college does not offer teaching awards, there is a lively grapevine that has students seeking her out from their very first semester, and adding Classics as a major, either in addition to what they thought they were going to study in college, or instead of it.  One of her faculty colleagues calls her teaching “challenging, effective, and inspiring,” and this committee agrees. 

The rethinking of curriculum is of course not the kind of thing students necessarily even know about, but the letters from her faculty and administrative colleagues attest to Dr. Cummins’ hard work and achievements in this area as well.  Like many institutions, big and small, Grinnell’s classics department has created a civilization-based track, and she led the department in a reassessment and redesign process that, according to one colleague, resulted in “harmonizing our individual goals and pedagogies,” and in the creation of multidisciplinary courses that play to her particular strengths, and with subject matter that varies from the Trojan War to the debates around cultural patrimony.  

We are honored to recognize Professor Monessa Cummins for her devotion to teaching with the SCS’s 2018 Award for Excellence in Teaching of the Classics at the College Level.

Mike Lippman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Imagine how students react on the first day of a class on Athens, when their professor tells them that, in the radical democracy of this class, they will be expected to decide how the required material will be considered, how the class will run, how their progress will be assessed, and that they will have to argue for and vote on any change. Mid-semester may find them begging for a tyrant, while struggling with the untidy realities of a truly democratic society. Or consider a class on Sparta, in which students are immediately divided into messes, which will not only work together but receive both reward and punishment for the behavior of individual members. Or a class on ancient athletics in which extra credit is earned through competition with a classmate: push-ups or footraces, songwriting or painting, all are fair game. This kind of experiential learning is a hallmark of Dr. Mike Lippman’s approach to the classroom, and his students eat it up! One student remarks that the Sparta course “put [her] in a position of leadership among [her] peers, forced [her] to make hard choices, and caused [her] to think and exist outside of [her] comfort zone,” exactly the aims of a liberal arts education. Cicero would be pleased.

Dr. Lippman’s innovative pedagogy compels profound, personal, and critical engagement among his students. One of his colleagues at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln comments on his “Pied-Piper-like ability to bring students into our department.” Indeed, since his arrival the number of majors has doubled. And it is not just Classics enrollments that have benefitted from his consummate teaching skills. Beginning Greek enrollments have tripled, and Dr. Lippman is now teaching the first upper level Greek classes offered at UNL in years, often creating these courses in response to specific student interests. The devotion he commands among his students is no better illustrated than by the final comment on one course evaluation: “I just want him to be proud of me.”

But his passion for the Classics is not restricted to the classroom. Since his arrival at UNL, Dr. Lippman has instituted and supported a thriving Classics Club, which among other activities, stages an annual ancient battle reenactment attended by hundreds of students and faculty. He has also organized the Homerathon, a 24-hour reading marathon. Last year, it was Stanley Lombardo’s translation of the Iliad, and readers included students, faculty, staff, a city councilor, and ... Stanley Lombardo! This fostering of community is critical to the future of Humanities in general and Classics in particular, and it takes determination and charisma to make it work. One of his colleagues calls him a “force of nature,” and we heartily agree.

We are honored to recognize Professor Mike Lippman for his outstanding teaching with the SCS’s 2018 Award for Excellence in Teaching of the Classics at the College Level.

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(Photo: "library" by Viva Vivanista, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

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The new Classics Everywhere initiative, recently launched by the SCS, supports projects that seek to introduce and engage communities all over the US with the worlds of Greek and Roman antiquity in new and meaningful ways. During the first round of applications, the SCS funded 13 projects, ranging from performances and a cinema series to educational programs and inter-institutional collaborations. In this post we focus on four programs that engaged audiences with the study of Greek and Roman antiquity and its connection to our modern world through the visual and performing arts.

The mythical past was a great source of inspiration not only for the Athenian 5th century playwrights, but also for many artists in the performing and visual arts ever since. The Greeks performed and dramatized stories from a mythologized history to explore emerging tensions between family and community values, gender dynamics, human relationships, the definition of justice, and the role of the divine world in human life. Putting these stories on the theatrical stage during their city’s most important festivals served to encourage audiences to think about the organization and structure of their society, their policies, and values.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 05/23/2019 - 8:04pm by Nina Papathanasopoulou.

Topic:  Hindsight in 2020

The saying “hindsight is 20/20” refers to the notion that it is easier to evaluate choices and understand events and their consequences after they have already occurred. Your task is to imagine how a historical, literary, or mythological figure from antiquity might have acted differently if they knew then what we know now. You may choose to focus on a single event and its repercussions or examine a pattern of behavior or a general character trait in light of current knowledge.

Contest Parameters and Judging

This contest is open to any student enrolled full-time in high school anywhere in the world during the current school year. An award of $250 will be given to the author of the best entry, which may take the form of a short story, essay, play, poem, or original literary work of any other sort.

Entries will be judged on accuracy to ancient sources, appropriate use of those sources, originality, quality of material, thematic development, correctness of English style, and effectiveness of presentation.

Contest Guidelines

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 05/17/2019 - 10:19am by Erik Shell.

At a 2010 forum at the New York Public Library featuring Harvard professor Cornel West and Jay-Z (Shawn Carter), Prof. West recalled one of his seminars at Princeton, which had featured a panel of Jay-Z, Toni Morrison, and Phylicia Rashad. West recalled discussing how Plato “made the world safe for Socrates, so the people would remember the name of Socrates forever,” and Jay-Z replied, “Well I have been playing Plato to Biggie’s Socrates.” As it turns out, there is a great deal of classical allusion to unpack in the world of hip-hop, many embedded within the lyrics of Jay-Z.


Figure 1: Jacques-Louis David, The Death of Socrates (1787).
(Image via Wikimedia Commons).

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 05/16/2019 - 4:42pm by Samuel Ortencio Flores.

"Motion and Migrancy in the Formation of Roman Literature"

Joy Connolly, Interim President and Distinguished Professor of Classics, Graduate Center CUNY

8th Floor Faculty/Staff Dining Room, Hunter West Building
SW Lexington Ave & 68th St.
 
Friday, May 17th, 2019
  • 4:30 - 5:00 Pre-Lecture Reception
  • 5:00 - 5:30 Student Award Ceremony
  • 5:30 - 6:30 Lecture
  • 6:30 - 7:00 Post-Lecture Reception

This lecture is free and open to the public.

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(Photo: "Empty Boardroom" by Reynermedia, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Tue, 05/14/2019 - 2:09pm by Erik Shell.
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The Digital Latin Library has published a blog post detailing new its new website, upcoming text releases, and other new features.

You can read the blog post here: https://digitallatin.org/blog/updates-ldlt

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(Photo: “Switch!" by Andrew Hart, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 05/13/2019 - 9:15am by Erik Shell.

This month, we spotlight the graduate research of Dr. Vivian A. Laughlin, who recently defended her dissertation on the Roman imperial appropriation of Serapis this spring.

While excavating at Hadrian’s Villa in 2015 with Columbia University I noticed that there were various architectural designs and material culture that appeared to be influenced by Egyptian culture. Then when roaming through various parts of the city of Rome, I began to see similar aesthetic references to Egyptian iconography in many places from Augustus’ House on the Palatine to Roman imperial works within various museums throughout the city. I questioned the Egyptian iconography I saw and why the visual references were being made. The more I questioned it, the more it created a burgeoning reason to investigate further and to better understand the relationship between Rome and Egypt. It was almost as if the material culture was speaking to my soul.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/10/2019 - 6:40am by Vivian A. Laughlin.

The SCS is proud to announce that it is now hosting the newest version of Joy Connolly's "Going on the Market...and What Comes Before," a detailed and practical guide to preparation for the academic job market.

The text is hosted on the SCS website here, and can be found on the Placement Service toolbar.

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

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 05/09/2019 - 9:13am by Erik Shell.

CfP: The spatial turn in Roman studies

Auckland, January 22-24 2020
Durham, June 10-12 2020

Organised by Amy Russell and Maxine Lewis

We write to announce two international conferences plus a year-long programme of events in Durham on the theme ‘The spatial turn in Roman studies’. This is the call for papers for the Auckland conference, 22-24 January 2020. A call for papers for the Durham conference will follow.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 05/09/2019 - 9:03am by Erik Shell.

By Urmila Mohan and Courtney O’Dell-Chaib

Scholars of religion have developed a framework for exploration of interactions between religion and tangible objects called "material religion." Over the past two decades, the focus within the study of material religion has emphasised object agency, aesthetics and networks. Disseminated in part by the journal Material Religion, a materialised study of religion explores religiosity as inseparable from a matrix of components including people, divine forces, institutions, things, places and communities. However, what still remains to be unpacked is a focus on the way material religion takes place globally. That is not merely editing case studies from different parts of the world based on theory generated in the West, but trying to see how vectors of bodies, affect, objects and ecologies might generate new theoretical approaches and data based on close cultural or ethnographic analyses.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 05/02/2019 - 4:47pm by .

(From the University of Mississippi's website)

Former University of Mississippi professor Lucy Turnbull will always be remembered as a beloved educator who could make her curriculum both easy to understand and infinitely interesting to her students, a mentor and a champion of civil rights at Ole Miss.

Her enthusiasm for the classics was contagious, which propelled her students to success in her art history, archaeology, mythology and classical civilization courses. Turnbull, 87, of Oxford, joined the university faculty in 1961 and taught until 1990. She died Sunday (April 21).

Dewey Knight, recently retired UM associate director of the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, was one of Turnbull’s friends. He entered the university as a freshman in 1966 and found himself in one of her classes that year.

“She walked into the classroom that first day,” Knight said. “There were about 25 of us, and we were immediately very afraid of Professor Turnbull. She was incredibly intelligent. She could read Greek like we read English.

“We all were in fear of her, but we had the ultimate respect for her, because it was very obvious she was brilliant.”

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Thu, 05/02/2019 - 8:39am by Erik Shell.

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