From the SCS President and Executive Director

We are writing for two reasons. First, we reiterate the statement of 1/6/19, authored and approved by the Board of Directors in San Diego. There is no place for racism in our field and we feel that is important to reissue that statement, given the increasing toxicity of online debate and the intensification of online harassment over the last few days:

“The Board of Directors of the Society for Classical Studies (SCS) condemns the racist acts and speech that occurred at the 2019 SCS annual meeting. The Society’s policy on harassment addresses, among other things, hostility and abuse based on race and ethnicity. There is no place for racism on the part of members, attendees, vendors, and contractors at the meeting.  In addition, the Board reaffirms its statement of November 2016 in which the directors condemned ‘the use of the texts, ideals, and images of the Greek and Roman world to promote racism or a view of the Classical world as the unique inheritance of a falsely-imagined and narrowly-conceived western civilization.’” 

Second, we would like to make a clarification regarding Professor Sarah Bond. After the Future of Classics panel, a number of complaints were brought to the Society’s Committee on Professional Ethics. A member of the SCS filed a formal complaint against Professor Bond. The Committee dismissed this complaint, determining in accordance with our procedures that the complaint was not credible and did not rise to the level of requiring formal investigation. The Committee did not approve or recommend to the Board any formal censure of her. However, the Committee did advise that someone communicate to her informally, on behalf of the Committee, some concerns regarding her behavior at the panel. The subsequent communication with Professor Bond resulted in misunderstandings of the content and intent of the Ethics Committee's concerns, particularly because it was not explicitly stated to Professor Bond that she was not being formally censured as a result of a complaint. We apologize for the great hurt and damage that this has caused to Professor Sarah Bond, our Communications Committee chair and blog editor, who does so much good for the Society.  The President and Executive Director bear the ultimate responsibility for the miscommunication and mishandling of the situation, and the subsequent damage, including the ambiguity of whether she was censured. Together with the Board, we are reviewing our procedures to ensure that what Professor Bond experienced does not happen again.

Mary T. Boatwright, SCS President 2019 

Helen Cullyer, Executive Director 


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We are very grateful to the nearly 2,500 registrants who overcame difficult travel conditions to attend last week’s joint annual meeting.  At the same time, we are aware that some members who had registered in advance were unable to come to Chicago because their initial airline reservations were cancelled, and their carriers could not put them on different flights in time to attend the meeting.  APA and AIA carry “convention cancellation insurance” for such events, and next week we will announce a procedure by which affected individuals can apply for refunds of advance registration fees.

Adam D. Blistein, APA Executive Director
Kevin Quinlan, AIA Interim Executive Director

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 01/08/2014 - 1:07pm by Adam Blistein.

Anna Shaw Benjamin died on July 21, 2013. Dr. Benjamin received both undergraduate and graduate education at the University of Pennsylvania (B.A. 1946, Ph.D. 1955) and at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. At the latter she held two fellowships, being a Thomas Day Seymour Fellow (1948/1949) and a Fulbright Fellow (1949/1950).

Dr. Benjamin commenced her devoted teaching career in 1951, as Instructor in Classical Languages and Humanities at Juniata College, a small institution in Pennsylvania, which she left for the University of Missouri-Columbia after receiving her Ph.D. in 1955. There, over almost a decade, she moved from Instructor in Classics and Archaeology to Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor, and Chair. In 1964, she came to Rutgers University as a Full Professor in the Department of Classics from which she retired in 1987. During her years at Rutgers she served at various times as Chairperson and/or Director of Graduate Studies and created an archeology program within the Classics Department.  Most summers were spent at digs in Greece with colleagues at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and later at excavations at Aphrodisias in Turkey.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 12/30/2013 - 12:49pm by Adam Blistein.

Our colleagues at AIA have once again developed an online scheduling tool that will permit you to develop a schedule of events you want to attend in Chicago.  You can develop your schedule from lists of sessions, committee meetings, and special events organized by APA, AIA, and affiliated groups.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 12/24/2013 - 10:18am by Adam Blistein.

In my final letter to the membership, I would like to give you all an idea of where we are headed as an organization in the near future.  Our organization is evolving in an exciting way.  We are the heirs of a distinguished history of developing and supporting research and teaching in all the areas of our discipline, and we shall continue to foster those goals as energetically and creatively as we can.  In my last letter I referred to some of the most conspicuous ways in which we are fulfilling this vital part of our mission, in particular with support for L’Année philologique and development of the Digital Latin Library.  At the same time, we are taking seriously the commitments we made in the Gateway Campaign to making the world of classics and the work of APA members valuable to a larger audience, both within and outside academia.  We are in the process of journeying through that Gateway – including evolution of our name, our logo, our web site, our annual meeting, our organizational structure, and our advocacy messages.  No part of our new orientation involves abandoning our history and mission.  In fact, without the foundation of the scholarly and teaching work of our members, we would have little to offer. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 12/18/2013 - 3:46pm by Adam Blistein.

Garrett Fagan recently posed an interesting question in his very useful discussion of the crisis in the humanities: “should we embrace the competition for students in a marketplace of majors?” That my answer is “yes” is probably evident from my last post, in which I urged classicists to participate in public discourse in order to insure that the public image of Classics is both attractive to our students and acceptable to their parents. Not everyone shares this view. Many scholars cringe at the economic and corporate metaphors that often cluster around this issue (“competition,” “marketplace”) and worry about the dilution of rigor and intellectualism they connote. But in my view we do not need to choose between “giving the students what they want” and our core values as humanists. We do, however, need to give ourselves permission to reconnect in our classes with the reasons most people are drawn to the humanities in the first place.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 12/18/2013 - 8:34am by Curtis Dozier.

During the New Year’s Day edition of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, writer Frank Deford will report on a discussion he had recently with Professor Sarah Culpepper Stroup of the University of Washington about her 'War Games' course.  A University publication gives details of her course here.  After the broadcast, Mr. Deford's report will also be posted on the section of the NPR web site that archives his presentations. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 12/17/2013 - 1:17pm by Adam Blistein.

Last week I saw something that I never thought I’d see: a new Greek tragedy. I don’t mean an adaptation of a Greek play or a modern drama inspired by a Greek myth. This was a new play, with no direct overlap with any ancient drama, but which was structured and written exactly like a fifth-century Athenian tragedy. The staging itself was in many ways very modern, but when you stripped that away and looked at the script itself, it was stylistically almost perfect. Okay, one could quibble: I’m not sure they could have staged it with just three actors; the choral odes were split across episodes (though they were composed in strophes and antistrophes). But everything else was pretty much spot on. We got formal features such as prologue, agôn scenes, stichomythia, messenger speeches, and sung monody. Even on the level of language and metaphor, there was little that would feel out of place if you tried to pass it off as a translation of an ancient text.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:15am by Laura Swift.

Why has the Titanomachy been so fascinating a subject for movies, TV, and video games in recent years?

Francisco de Goya, Saturno devorando a su hijo (1819–1823)In Greek myth, the Titans were the gods who ruled the cosmos in the generation before the ascent of the Olympians (Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, and the like).  The king of the Titans, Kronos, came to power by castrating his father Ouranos and held onto that power — in view of a prophecy that his son would overthrow him — by swallowing each of his children at birth.  But his wife, Rhea, replaced baby Zeus with a rock and hid him on the island of Crete until he grew strong enough to force Kronos to regurgitate his siblings, whom he then led in battle against Kronos and kin.  This battle, the war of the Olympians against the Titans, is called the Titanomachy, and can be considered the first war of Greek myth.  It takes up a full fifth of (what survives of) Hesiod’s Theogony, a poem about the birth of the gods (old-timey translation here), with a vivid description of the effects of Zeus’ prodigious use of the thunderbolt:

The land boiled, and every stream of Ocean, and the uncultivated sea.  The hot blast surrounded the earthborn Titans, unspeakable fire approached the bright sky, and the gleaming bright light of the thunderbolt and lightning blinded their eyes, though they were strong.  [Theogony lines 695–699, translation mine]

The Titanomachy ends with a victory for Zeus and the Olympians, thanks to the strongarm help of the hundred-handed monster-children of Mother Earth, who imprison the Titans in Tartarus, the deepest part of the underworld.

So much for the myth.  There are a number of treatments of the Titans in modern popular media.  And in almost every single one, the story is not the Titanomachy itself, but rather the reawakening or escape of the Titans from their prison, and the commencement or threat of a second war between Titans and Olympians.  It seems to me that this basic storyline, and the set of other plot elements that seem intrinsically associated with it, touch on a number of social/political anxieties in America today, as I’ll talk about in next month's column.  [Mega spoilers starting in the next paragraph!]

View full article. | Posted in on Sun, 12/15/2013 - 4:12am by T. H. M. Gellar-Goad.

There has been much ink spilt recently about a “crisis” in the humanities. In the New York Times alone there have been articles and a “Room for Debate” discussion of the “crisis.” Steven Pinker has weighed into the debate in The New Republic, generating ripostes from Leon Wieseltier in the same publication and Gary Gutting in the New York Times. Heated debate among readers can be charted in the comment boards attached to all of these publications.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:38pm by Garrett Fagan.

If you use Twitter and intend to share comments about the upcoming joint annual meeting in Chicago, please use the hashtag

#aiaapa

We have consulted with our colleagues at the AIA, and they have agreed to recommend its use to their members as well.  This hashtag has been in use for at least the last two joint meetings, and we hope that Twitter users will adopt it this year as well.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:33am by Adam Blistein.

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