SCS Board endorses joint statement on legislative efforts to restrict education on racism

The SCS Board of Directors has co-signed the following statement, which has been authored jointly by the American Association of University Professors, the American Historical Association, the Association of American Colleges & Universities, and PEN America. As of June 16, 2021, 80 organizations have endorsed the statement.

You can read the full text and list of signatories below and read the press release by the American Historical Association here

June 16, 2021

We, the undersigned associations and organizations, state our firm opposition to a spate of legislative proposals being introduced across the country that target academic lessons, presentations, and discussions of racism and related issues in American history in schools, colleges and universities. These efforts have taken varied shape in at least 20 states; but often the legislation aims to prohibit or impede the teaching and education of students concerning what are termed “divisive concepts.” These divisive concepts as defined in numerous bills are a litany of vague and indefinite buzzwords and phrases including, for example, “that any individual should feel or be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological or emotional distress on account of that individual’s race or sex.” These legislative efforts are deeply troubling for numerous reasons.

First, these bills risk infringing on the right of faculty to teach and of students to learn. The clear goal of these efforts is to suppress teaching and learning about the role of racism in the history of the United States. Purportedly, any examination of racism in this country’s classrooms might cause some students “discomfort” because it is an uncomfortable and complicated subject. But the ideal of informed citizenship necessitates an educated public. Educators must provide an accurate view of the past in order to better prepare students for community participation and robust civic engagement. Suppressing or watering down discussion of “divisive concepts” in educational institutions deprives students of opportunities to discuss and foster solutions to social division and injustice. Legislation cannot erase “concepts” or history; it can, however, diminish educators’ ability to help students address facts in an honest and open environment capable of nourishing intellectual exploration. Educators owe students a clear-eyed, nuanced, and frank delivery of history, so that they can learn, grow, and confront the issues of the day, not hew to some state-ordered ideology.  

Second, these legislative efforts seek to substitute political mandates for the considered judgment of professional educators, hindering students’ ability to learn and engage in critical thinking across differences and disagreements. These regulations constitute an inappropriate attempt to transfer responsibility for the evaluation of a curriculum and subject matter from educators to elected officials. The purpose of education is to serve the common good by promoting open inquiry and advancing human knowledge. Politicians in a democratic society should not manipulate public school curricula to advance partisan or ideological aims. In higher education, under principles of academic freedom that have been widely endorsed, professors are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject. Educators, not politicians, should make decisions about teaching and learning. 

Knowledge of the past exists to serve the needs of the living. In the current context, this includes an honest reckoning with all aspects of that past. Americans of all ages deserve nothing less than a free and open exchange about history and the forces that shape our world today, an exchange that should take place inside the classroom as well as in the public realm generally. To ban the tools that enable those discussions is to deprive us all of the tools necessary for citizenship in the twenty-first century. A white-washed view of history cannot change what happened in the past. A free and open society depends on the unrestricted pursuit and dissemination of knowledge.

Signed,

American Association of University Professors
American Historical Association
Association of American Colleges & Universities
PEN America

The following organizations have co-signed this statement:

ACPA-College Student Educators International
Agricultural History Society
Alcohol and Drugs History Society
American Anthropological Association
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
American Council of Learned Societies
American Educational Research Association
American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
American Folklore Society
American Library Association
American Philosophical Association
American Political Science Association
American Society for Environmental History
American Society for Theatre Research
American Sociological Association
American Studies Association
Anti-Defamation League
Association for Ancient Historians
Association for Asian American Studies
Association for Documentary Editing
Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies
Association for the Study of Higher Education
Association for Theatre in Higher Education
Association of College and Research Libraries
Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges
Association of Research Libraries
Association of University Presses
Association of Writers & Writing Programs
Business History Conference
Center for Research Libraries
Central European History Society
Chinese Historians in the United States
Coalition of Urban & Metropolitan Universities (CUMU)
College Art Association
Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender History
Comparative and International Education Society
Conference on Asian History
Conference on Faith and History
Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes
Czechoslovak Studies Association
Forum on Early-Modern Empires and Global Interactions
Freedom to Read Foundation
French Colonial Historical Society
German Studies Association
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
Historical Society of Twentieth Century China
Immigration Ethnic History Society
John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education
Labor and Working-Class History Association
Middle East Studies Association
Modern Language Association
NAFSA: Association of International Educators
National Association for College Admission Counseling
National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education
National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education
National Coalition for History
National Council for the Social Studies
National Council of Teachers of English
National Council on Public History
National Women’s Studies Association
Organization of American Historians
Phi Beta Kappa Society
Radical History Review
Rhetoric Society of America
Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media
Shakespeare Association of America
Society for Austrian and Habsburg History
Society for Classical Studies
Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender
Society of Architectural Historians
Society of Civil War Historians
Southern Historical Association
Urban History Association
Western History Association
World History Association

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“What Has Antiquity Ever Done for Us?” The Vitality of Ancient Reception Studies, Now

An international virtual conference presented by Antiquity in Media Studies (AIMS)

15-18 December 2021

Deadline for submissions: 15 October 2021

The officers of Antiquity in Media Studies invite proposals for presentations that illuminate the ongoing vitality of antiquity in recent discourses. Despite decades of institutional disinvestment in the study of antiquity, a venerated deep past figured as a powerful shared imaginary remains a perennial, emotionally evocative, even highly lucrative concept in myriad contemporary media, around the world and across all manner of identity lines. Among antiquities, of particularly widespread interest has been the millennia of history centered on the Mediterranean and dubbed “classical” among successor societies, both self-appointed and colonized. From Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey to Luis Alfaro’s Mojada, from Hideki Takeuchi’s Thermae Romae to Pat Barker’s Silence of the Girls, to politicians' and pundits' invocations of the Persian Wars and the fall of Rome, each year produces more receptions of this antiquity. Beyond the Greco-Roman-centered past, all antiquities mobilized for such cultural work today are welcome at this ancient reception studies conference. 

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 09/14/2021 - 11:30am by Erik Shell.

(Published on behalf of Werner Reiß)

Dear colleagues,

It is with great pleasure that Professor Werner Riess and his team announce the launch of the new database TheDefix (Thesaurus Defixionum), which replaces the earlier version TheDeMa (Thesaurus Defixionum Magdeburgensis). TheDefix is an open access Heurist database hosted by the University of Hamburg, Department of Ancient History, and can be reached at the following link:

www.thedefix.uni-hamburg.de.

As its predecessor TheDeMa, TheDefix seeks to collect all published curse inscriptions from the ancient world, providing the original texts, data on their material textual features as well as bibliographical information on each tablet.
Users are welcome to contact us if they need any support in the usage of the database or to suggest any improvement at the following addresses:

Prof. Dr. Werner Rieß: werner.riess@uni-hamburg.de
Dr. Sara Chiarini: sara.chiarini@uni-hamburg.de

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Tue, 09/14/2021 - 11:28am by Erik Shell.
NEH Logo

August, 2021

Below is a list of the most recent NEH grantees and their Classically-themed projects. The NEH helps fund a number of SCS initiatives, and their support affects the field of Classics at a national and local level.

Grantees

  • Julie Montione (Valencia College) - "Timeless Parallels: Classical Literature and Veteran Experiences"
  • Lauren Ristvet (University of Pennsylvania) - "Eastern Mediterranean Gallery"
  • Clifford Ando (University of Chicago) - "Roman Statutes: Renewing Roman Law"
View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 09/13/2021 - 1:35pm by Erik Shell.
A painting of four women sitting in a room weaving. One woman is spinning wool, two are arranging wool, and one is picking up tools off the floor. In the background is another room filled with women.

Welcome to Auia loca: New Paths in Classics, a new series launched by the SCS Communications Committee! Taking inspiration from Lucretius as he wanders through remote and unfrequented paths (auia Pieridum peragro loca nullius ante | trita solo, DRN 4.1–2), Auia loca seeks to spotlight new initiatives which themselves represent new and untrodden paths for Classics, as both a discipline and an academic field.

To kick off the series, it is my pleasure to introduce Hesperides, a new scholarly organization devoted to the study of Classics in Luso-Hispanic Worlds. Hesperides recently gained Category II affiliate status with the SCS, an affiliation which entitles the organization to a panel or paper session at the annual meeting. It joins a host of other SCS affiliated groups which likewise focus on the rich and complex receptions of the ancient Mediterranean across modernity, including Eos and the Asian and Asian American Classical Caucus (AAACC).

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 09/13/2021 - 10:23am by .
Corinthian black-figure terra-cotta votive tablet of slaves working in a mine. One figure is passing a bowl to another, one is carrying a basket, and one is wielding a tool.

Content advisory: this post includes an anti-Black epithet in the recounting of a personal experience.

I have always been interested in history. In high school, I took two history courses that drew my attention to the field. One was required, the typical AP U.S. History, and one was an elective, AP European History. Both courses involved the discussion of slavery and how it affected the development of different world powers. I was not interested in the rise of nations or how they acquired power. The individuals who were used, abused, and marginalized are what I find fascinating about studying history. From high school, my path was clear: study history and, more specifically, study the history of slavery.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 09/10/2021 - 9:51am by .
Text reads "Ego, Polyphemus, a Latin novella by Andrew Olimpi." A blue sky behind an upside-down image of a bald man with gray skin, wearing a black one-shoulder garment, with a single eye in the middle of his forehead.

The sudden rise of Latin novellas might come as a surprise to anyone outside of high-school classrooms. This genre, which didn’t exist seven years ago, now counts over a hundred published works. These novellas are largely written by and for those outside the world of higher ed, but they should be of interest to the larger scholarly community—not just because they will increasingly form the background and expectations of Latin students coming into college, but also because they are one part of a larger pedagogical movement that is in the midst of transforming the teaching of Latin.

View full article. | Posted in on Tue, 09/07/2021 - 10:18am by .

(Provided by the department at William & Mary)

Chancellor Professor Emeritus of Classical Studies Julian Ward Jones Jr. passed away on August 28, 2021. He was born on July 11, 1930, at Essex County, Virginia and grew up in Fredericksburg. He graduated in 1948 from James Monroe High School as valedictorian. He read Latin at the University of Richmond. During the period 1953-1955, he served as a dental technician in the US Army at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and still found time to read Homer. He pursued a PhD in Classics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he met his wife, Liz, about whom he had written, “the most brilliant linguist I ever knew.” After two years of teaching at Ohio State University, he accepted a position as Associate Professor at William & Mary in the Department of Ancient Languages in 1961. In his long career at W&M, Professor Jones served as Chair of the Department for over ten years and was instrumental in revising its curriculum and renaming it as the Department of Classical Studies. He also served as the President of several important professional organizations, including the Classical Association of Virginia, the Southern Section of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South, and the Mediterranean Society of America.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Thu, 09/02/2021 - 9:56am by Erik Shell.

Seventh Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Heritage of Western Greece

Paideia and Performance”

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 09/02/2021 - 9:53am by Erik Shell.
Roman civilians examining the Twelve Tables after they were first implemented.

Omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis. The Society for Classical Studies’ Communications Committee has approved a few changes to the SCS Blog guidelines, and we thought we’d get the word out about a couple consequential ones.

First, anonymous and pseudonymous posts are no longer strictly out of the question. The new bottom line:

The SCS Blog does not, as a rule, post anonymous content, meaning content written and submitted by one or more authors whose identities are unknown even to the editors of the blog. However, we are aware that there are situations where someone(s) might have valuable insight to share but not be able to do so out of concerns for retaliation or professional repercussions.

We expect anonymous/pseudonymous posts will be rare; in cases where authors seek anonymity/pseudonymity, we have adopted a consent-based confidentiality policy detailed in full on the guidelines page.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 09/02/2021 - 9:27am by T. H. M. Gellar-Goad.
Hephaestus returns to Olympus riding a donkey and carrying hammer and tongs. He is led by Dionysus, who bears a thyrsos (pine-cone tipped staff) and drinking cup.

Content warning: disability slurs & ableist language

As our culture changes, so, too, does the language that we use. This post is an invitation to discuss what is, at present, a culturally appropriate approach to language for writing or teaching about disability in the ancient world. We must always reflect on the importance of language and strive to learn the best practices for acknowledging the lives of the subjects of our research. At the same time, we must show due respect to our disabled colleagues and students. Our choice of language is important because, statistically speaking, you already have disabled colleagues and students. This is not an issue for other people or another time, but for all of us, disabled and nondisabled, right now.

This is a work in progress, but our goals are threefold: to demystify the language around disability; to encourage you to consider the ways that your language can humanize or dehumanize disabled people, ancient and modern; and to bring new voices to the discussion.

Language and Culture

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 08/30/2021 - 10:18am by .

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