Tribute to R. Elaine Fantham

Please see the following tribute to R. Elaine Fantham, contributed by Prof. Alison Keith, Acting Chair, Dept. of Classics at the University of Toronto
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Dear Colleagues and friends – 
 
We were devastated to learn that R. Elaine Fantham, a giant in the field of classical scholarship and generous friend and mentor to generations of students and colleagues, died yesterday in Toronto at the age of 83. A member of the Classics department at Trinity College, in the University of Toronto, from 1968 to 1986, and again from 2000 to 2008 after her retirement from Princeton, Elaine was predeceased by her husband Peter, and is survived by her daughter Julia (grandchildren Peter, Alice, and Clare) and her son Roy (wife Jen and granddaughter Marley).

Born in Liverpool U.K. in May 1933, Elaine received her B.A. (first class in Literae Humaniores) and first graduate degree at Oxford University before returning to her home city as Leverhulme Research Fellow to earn her Ph.D. in 1965 with a dissertation on Plautus’ comedy Curculio, “The Boll-Weevil” (examined by R.G. Austin and O. Skutsch). Early training in the ways of roguery naturally equipped her for a meteoric rise in her chosen profession, and she held teaching posts all over the Anglo-American academy. She taught briefly at St Andrews University, as a fellow of St. Salvator’s College (1965-1966), before moving with her mathematician husband Peter to Indiana University in Bloomington. There she taught in the Department of Classics as a Visiting Lecturer (1966-1968), before moving again, in 1968, with their Scottish daughter Julia and American son Roy, to Toronto and Trinity College. There she taught for eighteen years (Assistant to Associate Professor 1968-1978, Professor 1978-86), in a college department celebrated for its collegiality and scholarship. She was welcomed right from the start by Mary White, as well as by the other members of the Classics contingent of that congenial college, including John Cole, Desmond Conacher, Alexander Dalzell, and George Grube. In retirement she returned to the college and was elected a Senior Fellow of Trinity College in September 2012.

During her professional years in Toronto, Elaine served on the editorial committee of Phoenix from 1976 to 1979; gave a series of papers across Canada on both the Atlantic and Western lecture tours sponsored by the Classical Association of Canada; and served as Vice-President of the Association from 1982-84, during which period she also served as Vice-President and then President of the Canadian Society for the History of Rhetoric (1983-1986). In 1996, she delivered the keynote lecture at the annual meeting of the CAC in St. Catharines, Ontario.

In addition to her valuable service to the Canadian academic community, Elaine was very active across North America, especially after moving to Princeton University in 1986, when she was appointed Giger Professor of Latin in the Department of Classics there. She enjoyed spells as a Visiting Professor of Classics at Ohio State University in Columbus OH (1983) and as Langford Visiting Professor at Florida State University in 2001; and in 1999-2000 she lectured for Phi Beta Kappa across the United States. She also contributed signal service to the American Philological Association, the largest professional classics association in the world, where she was an outstanding advocate for classical scholars and classics departments. She served as member, then chair, of the Goodwin Award Committee (1997-2000), and then, after her retirement from Princeton and return to Toronto in 2000, as President-Elect (2003) and President (2004) of the APA. In January 2009, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Philological Association in recognition of her superlative service to the profession.

After retiring from Princeton University in 2000, Elaine made her primary residence in Toronto, where her grown-up family lives, and she continued to make significant contributions to the research and teaching mission of the graduate department of Classics at the University of Toronto, where she had established her career. In the early years of the new millennium, she took on supplementary graduate teaching for the Toronto department in a wide range of M.A. and Ph.D. courses. In addition, and much more importantly, she was closely involved from the start of her retirement in mentoring across the country and around the world – not only senior graduate and undergraduate students but also friends and colleagues. She offered us all a model of the very highest standard of professional activity and collegiality. Her commitment to the Department, her colleagues and students – not only nationally and internationally, but also locally and provincially – was particularly valuable in this period, when she also served as the Honorary President of the Classical Association of Canada from 2001 to 2006. In May 2015 Elaine was honoured with the CAC Award of Merit.

Elaine continued to travel and lecture in the USA, Britain and Italy until recently, as she remained much in demand. Known both for the wide range and for the accessibility of her scholarship, Elaine was the grande dame of Latin studies in the English-speaking world, though it was not only amongst Anglo-American colleagues that she was celebrated. For her fluent Italian, German and French made her a very welcome guest-speaker throughout Europe as well. Outside of her home universities, Professor Fantham lectured across the United States for Phi Beta Kappa and presented lectures and conference papers around the world—including in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Argentina, and Australia.

The author of seventeen books (including scholarly monographs, commentaries, editions and translations, and an omnibus of her selected articles) and over a hundred articles and book chapters, she also co-authored the standard textbook on women in antiquity and served as Associate Editor in Chief of the seven-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome (2010). Many of us encountered Latin literature through her scholarship – the comedies of Plautus and Terence in her first book Comparative Studies in Republican Latin Literature (Toronto 1972), the plays of Seneca and poetry of Lucan and Ovid in later commentaries (Princeton 1982; Cambridge 1992 and 1998) respectively), and of course her magisterial Roman Literary Culture from Cicero to Apuleius (Baltimore 1996), expanded in a second edition (2012) to cover Latin letters from Plautus to Macrobius.

She herself said that she was drawn to the study of Classics because of a glamorous ad for a tonic wine, which featured a handsome longhaired young man in a tunic, riding past the Acropolis in a chariot with an equally alluring young woman. Although the modern professoriate may have been something of a disappointment by comparison, there is no question that Professor Fantham’s career was attended by glamour and acclaim. From 1996 on, she contributed short comments on classical topics to National Public Radio in the United States, where a select company of famous classicists has interested millions in the study of classical antiquity. Always generous with her time and attention to her chosen profession, Elaine gave a public and very human voice to our discipline as a commentator on NPR.

Elaine was a valuable member of the Classics community not only in her former departments but also in both her adoptive countries and on her adoptive continent for nearly fifty years, as a faculty member and staunchly supportive colleague, serving even in retirement as an active participant in the teaching and research mission of classical studies around the world. She provided a model of classical scholarship and personal engagement for generations of students, friends, and colleagues, and served as a warm and generous mentor to many in the profession.

Her generosity was a byword amongst her friends and former students, and her calendar even in retirement was always full of visits from colleagues, who took her out for concerts, cream teas and debauched dinners. A witty raconteur, loyal friend and brilliant cook, she remained excellent company to the end – on the radio, in the classroom, and over the dinner table. She will be sorely missed by everyone whose life she touched.

Ave atque vale – S.T.T.L

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Rhetoric and Historiography: New Perspectives

A two-day conference to be hosted by The University of Notre Dame, Rome Gateway Center

May 18-21, 2023, Rome

Conveners: Luca Grillo (University of Notre Dame), Emily Baragwanath (UNC, Chapel Hill), Andrew Feldherr (Princeton University) and Christopher Krebs (Stanford University)

2023 marks the 35th anniversary of the appearance of A. J. Woodman's Rhetoric in Classical Historiography, a work that has transformed our understanding of the Greek and Roman historians, especially among anglophone scholars. Woodman argued above all that the aims of these historians must be understood according to the principles of ancient rhetoric, for example, to praise, inspire or entertain, rather than anachronistically presuming that they shared the same fundamental goal as the modern academic discipline of history: to represent the truth of what happened in the past.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 08/18/2022 - 9:53am by .
Two shelves of assorted Classics books

Although often left out of the conversation about the future of the instruction of ancient language, history, and culture in higher education, contingent faculty at community colleges serve on the front lines of this struggle, frequently becoming the first ancient studies professors their students encounter. Often working without job security, a steady salary, or benefits, adjunct faculty are providing cutting-edge instruction to an exceedingly diverse student body. According to the American Association of Community Colleges’ 2022 Fast Facts, community college students represent 39% of the total undergraduate population in the United States and include large percentages of first-generation students, workers, single parents, students with disabilities, and members of historically marginalized groups.

The SCS Blog recently had the opportunity to interview two community college adjunct professors to hear about their experiences.

Patrick J. Burns: Let’s start with the here and now — what courses are you teaching this semester?

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 08/15/2022 - 11:00am by .
A yellowed manuscript page with Ancient Greek script written on it, with large margins and a letter M drop cap at the beginning.

When I learned that I would be teaching my department’s graduate Greek survey in Fall 2021, I promptly burst into tears. The assignment was not what I was expecting; more painfully, it brought up all the barely suppressed memories of my own survey experience.

In one sense, that experience had been a success. It transformed me from a glacially slow reader of Greek into a slightly faster one, familiar with a range of authors and genres and capable of passing my Greek qualifying exam. It also left me with an enduring sense of inferiority, even fraudulence. I didn’t make it through a single one of our assignments (the standard 1,000 lines per week). I never felt in command of the language or my own learning. The fact that I had improved seemed more like a happy accident than an effect of the curriculum, let alone something I could be proud of. For years afterwards, even post-graduation, I would wake up wondering how many lines I had to read that day and then calculate by how far I would fail.

This might seem like an extreme reaction, but from what I can tell, it’s not uncommon. Greek and Latin Surveys, the foundation of Classics graduate curricula in the US, leave many people feeling ashamed of their language skills.

View full article. | Posted in on Tue, 08/09/2022 - 12:51pm by .

Program of the 1st IConiC Conference

Audience Response in Ancient Greek and Latin Literature 

02-03 September 2022  

https://sites.google.com/uoi.gr/iconic 

Via Ms Teams 

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Tue, 08/09/2022 - 11:50am by .

Directed by Christopher Bungard

Erin Moodie translator 

The Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance (CAMP) presents a script-in-hand reading of a new translation by Erin Moodie of Terence’s Phormio. The African born Terence often gets short shrift when it comes to ancient drama, but he is tremendously influential in the history of western theatre.  

View full article. | Posted in Performances on Sun, 08/07/2022 - 1:45pm by Helen Cullyer.

Kairos in ancient arts and techniques

Submission deadlines:

October 1, 2022 (Title & Abstract)
April 30, 2023 (Text)

Vol. 11, Issue 2, 2023 

Edited by Giada Capasso & Alessandro Stavru

The international Journal Thaumàzein devotes a special issue to the relationship between kairos and the techniques in Graeco-Roman antiquity.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 08/03/2022 - 10:24am by .

August 15 is the final abstract deadline for A Conference on Homer in Sicily, October 5-8 with a Homer-themed post-conference tour October 9-10, 2022

Keynote Speakers: Jenny Strauss Clay (Virginia) and Stamatia Dova (Hellenic College and CHS)

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 08/02/2022 - 2:47pm by .
A fresco with a red background. In the middle is a circle, in which a young man reads a papyrus scroll.

This is Part 3 of a three-part series. Find Part 1 and Part 2 here.

There is nothing ideologically neutral about grades, and there is nothing ideologically neutral about the idea that we can neatly and tidily do away with grades. We can't simply take away grades without re-examining all of our pedagogical approaches, and this work looks different for each teacher, in each context, and with each group of students.

— Jesse Stommel, “Grades are Dehumanizing

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 08/01/2022 - 3:33pm by .

The following obituary is reposted from legacy.com.

You can read the original posting at this link.

"We collectively mourn the loss of Dr. Corinne Ondine Pache, Professor of Classical Studies and a cherished member of the Trinity University community, who ended her battle with cancer on July 20, 2022. Corinne was an accomplished scholar, revered teacher and mentor, and terrific friend to many all over the globe. She will be sorely missed.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Wed, 07/27/2022 - 2:19pm by .
A mosaic featuring a group of men in togas, variously sitting and standing outdoors. Some are reading, while others engage in conversation.

This is Part 2 of a three-part series. Find Part 1 and Part 3 here.

Only by abandoning traditional grading and performance assessment practices can we achieve our ultimate educational objectives.

Alfie Kohn

Tradition in Classics is powerful. When the three of us started teaching as graduate students, we drew on our experiences as undergraduates in the many Classics courses we had taken, particularly when it came to assessing students. This is not a bad thing! We all need to start somewhere while we are growing as educators. Nevertheless, it was difficult for us to imagine, for instance, teaching Latin without traditional assessment practices (such as high-stakes tests), because that’s how we were taught.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 07/25/2022 - 10:03am by .

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