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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The SCS, consistent with its Statement on Professional Ethics, which addresses discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender identity, stands fully in support of transgender classicists. It condemms any harassment and bullying of anyone who is transgender or who advocates for transgender rights.

approved by the SCS Board, 4/30/21

View full article. | Posted in Public Statements on Fri, 04/30/2021 - 12:52pm by Helen Cullyer.

The Department of Latin at the University of Basel, in collaboration with the foundation PLuS, is pleased to invite applications for the new round of the Basel Fellowships in Latin Literature. The fellowship programme offers an opportunity for early career researchers as well as established scholars to pursue their research in the framework of a fully funded visit of up to three months at the Departement Altertumswissenschaften of the University of Basel. During their stay Fellows are entitled to make full use of the excellent resources of the University Library as well as the departmental library, Bibliothek Altertumswissenschaften, one of the world’s leading research libraries for the study of the ancient Mediterranean civilisations.

Closing date for applications for spring and autumn 2022 (full term: 21 Feb until 03 June 2022 or 19 Sept until 23 Dec 2022 respectively) is 01 September 2021.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Tue, 04/27/2021 - 1:09pm by Erik Shell.

Congratulations to all the newly elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The 252 new members include several who are classicists:

CLASS IV – Humanities and Arts

SECTION 1 – PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES

RELIGIOUS STUDIES

  • Fritz Graf, The Ohio State University
  • Teresa Morgan (IHM), University of Oxford

SECTION 3 – LITERATURE AND LANGUAGE STUDIES

  • Ruth Scodel, University of Michigan

SECTION 5 – VISUAL ARTS

  • Paul Zanker (IHM), German Archaeological Institute

CLASS V – Leadership, Policy, and Communications

SECTION 3 – EDUCATIONAL AND ACADEMIC LEADERSHIP

  • Joy Connolly, American Council of Learned Societies

You can view the whole list of newly elected members here.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sun, 04/25/2021 - 8:10am by Helen Cullyer.
Roman Forum

SCS congratulates the 2021-22 Rome Prize Winners in Ancient Studies, announced by the American Academy in Rome on April 23, 2021:

Sasha-Mae Eccleston
National Endowment for the Humanities/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Rome Prize

Kevin Ennis
Samuel H. Kress Foundation/Helen M. Woodruff-Archaeological Institute of America Rome Prize

Grace Funsten
Emeline Hill Richardson/Arthur Ross Rome Prize

John Izzo
Millicent Mercer Johnsen Rome Prize

Adriana Maria Vazquez
Andrew Heiskell/Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Rome Prize

You can view the full announcement and list of all Rome prize winners and Italian fellows here.

Image: "Roman Forum" by Benson Kua is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Sat, 04/24/2021 - 3:21pm by Helen Cullyer.
Hades abducting Persephone. Fresco in the small royal tomb at Vergina, Macedonia, Greece. 340 BCE.

The Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities initiative, launched by the SCS in 2019 as the Classics Everywhere initiative, supports projects that seek to engage broader publics — individuals, groups, and communities — in critical discussion of and creative expression related to the ancient Mediterranean, the global reception of Greek and Roman culture, and the history of teaching and scholarship in the field of classical studies. As part of this initiative, the SCS has funded 98 projects in 25 states and 10 countries, ranging from school programming to reading groups, prison programs, public talks and conferences, digital projects, and collaborations with artists in theater, opera, music, dance, and the visual arts.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 04/23/2021 - 9:59am by .
NEH Logo

April, 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

  • James Given (Yale Divinity School) - "The Letters of Ignatius of Antioch, between Forgery and Fiction"
  • Maddalena Rumor (Case Western Reserve University) - "Dreckapotheke' in Ancient Mesopotamia and the Graeco-Roman World"
  • Hallie Meredith (Washington State University) - "Fragmentary and Unfinished Art: Documenting Undocumented Late Roman Art and Process"
  • Jennifer Bryan (Oberlin College) - "Chaucer's Ovidian Arts: Poetic Influence and Innovation at the Beginning of English Literature"
  • Jacqueline Meier (University of North Florida) - "Animals of a Late Bronze Age Household at Mycenae, Greece"
  • Peter Meineck (Aquila Theatre Company, Inc.) - "Warrior Chorus: American Democracy"
  • Yelena Baraz (Society for Classical Studies) - "SCS/NEH Fellowship at the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae"
View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Wed, 04/21/2021 - 2:23pm by Erik Shell.
Roman portraiture fresco of a young man with a papyrus scroll, from Herculaneum, 1st century AD. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

When I came back to the classroom in 2016, after an interlude career as a mental health counselor, I noticed systemic problems in the field of Classics that I had previously normalized. At the pre-collegiate level, Classics is not only elitist, but also exclusive in a way that has made it a racialized space. Mock slave auctions, for example, were held as fundraisers under the Junior Classical League brand as late as 2019 and still have not been formally banned. Instructional materials present slavery with the same rhetoric as Lost Cause white supremacists. At the JCL convention this year, the piece for the boys’ dramatic oration was a selection from Ars Amatoria, and the theme for the “couples costume” contest regularly involved rapist-victim dyads.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 04/21/2021 - 10:01am by Danielle Bostick.

The Classics Program of Hunter College (CUNY) announces the rescheduled conference on Theognis and the Theognidea. The conference will now be virtual. It will run from April 28th (Wednesday) through April 30th (Friday) from 12-3:30 PM. (NB, the first day starts at 11:45AM and the last day runs to 4PM.) The conference is open and free. Registration is required.

 

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Mon, 04/19/2021 - 9:43am by Erik Shell.

Howard University is the only HBCU in the United States with a Classics Department, which has been a part of the institution since its inception in 1867. SCS has recently received the following news from the Department:

"Howard University has decided to close the Department of Classics as part of its prioritization efforts and is currently negotiating with the faculty of Classics and with other units in the College as to how they might best reposition and repurpose our programs and personnel. These discussions have been cordial, and the faculty remains hopeful that the department can be kept intact at some level, with its faculty and programs still in place." 

View full article. | Posted in Public Statements on Fri, 04/16/2021 - 8:52am by Helen Cullyer.
Relief found in Neumagen near Trier, a teacher with three discipuli (180-185 AD). Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

As a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin this spring, working on a book on Roman diversity, I've been wondering how German classicists are experiencing current debates about diversifying our field. To find out, I spoke with Dr. Katharina Wesselmann, a professor in the Northern German city of Kiel who has also taught high school and university in Basel, Switzerland. The fact that she specializes in “didactics” — the teaching of ancient Greek and Latin — is one mark of the differences between our two national classics traditions. In Germany, Latin and Greek are regularly offered at the advanced secondary schools known as Gymnasiums. So more Germans than Americans are familiar with the classical languages, and those who pursue university degrees in classics can find employment teaching high school.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 04/15/2021 - 11:12am by Nandini Pandey.

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