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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The SCS has received a response from a group of graduate students to Professor Joy Connolly’s blog post Working Towards a Just and Inclusive Future for Classics. This repsonse is posted below.

The student authors are anonymous and neither SCS staff nor Officers know their identities. As agreed with the Communications Committee, this piece is not appearing on the SCS blog, since the current policy is not to publish anonymous submissions on the blog. However, the Communications Committee and SCS staff agree that it is important to give students a voice and publish their contributions to debates about the future. The SCS leadership recognizes that there are circumstances under which anonymity can protect younger and more vulnerable members of the profession (see the dialogue following the board statement on ad hominem anonymous attacks), and shares the hope of the students, expressed in their final paragraph, that we can move towards a future where the protection of anonymity will no longer be necessary. 

The SCS office requested just one edit, on placement service data, to the submission. The post has not been otherwise edited or revised.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 8:59pm by Helen Cullyer.
Penland Rome China 00

How can we forge better and lasting connections between the ancient Mediterranean and modern Chinese culture? At the end of the last school year, I had the occasion to sit down with my student, Hongshen Ken Lin (林鸿燊) to talk about his experiences in Classics. Ken was at the end of his senior year and had been accepted early to Harvard, where he planned to combine his love of Big Data and digital humanities with something equally remote and challenging: the study of Roman and Greek Antiquity.


Penland Rome China 01
Hongshen Ken Lin on the Harvard China website.

According to Ken, he became interested in studying Latin through a family trip to Rome combined with a freshman history class in the Ancient Mediterranean at his new US school. That was the first time he realized that Latin existed. He had not had much exposure to Roman and Greek history in China.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 8:38pm by Liz Penland.
Call for Papers
October, 26th 2019.
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.
Third University of Florida Classics Graduate Student Symposium
 
Justice turns the balance scales
Δίκα δὲ τοῖς μὲν παθοῦσιν μαθεῖν ἐπιρρέπει (Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 250-1)
“But Justice turns the balance scales,
sees that we suffer and we suffer and we learn.” (trans. Robert Fagles)

The importance of the concept of justice in ancient literature and culture set the foundation for the philosophical, social, and political reflections on the subject in the centuries that followed. From archaic theodicy, to the great plays of the Tragedians, from Caesar’s debate with Cato, to life under tyrannical emperors, δίκη [dīke] and iustitia (νόμος [nomos] and ius…) come to the fore as key ideas to interpret the world and man’s role/duty in it.  Many human experiences that ancient literature describes broached the issue of justice, be it at a personal level (the problem of suffering, retribution, progress, etc.) or at a societal and historical level (administration of justice, redistribution of land, great legal cases of ancient history, etc.). These ideas have been the point of reference for many literary works and philosophical/political reflections in the cultural tradition that reaches us today.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 11:15am by Erik Shell.
"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Department of Classics and the Ancient Theater Performance Group of Cornell University present....

TROADES 
“The Trojan Women”
by Seneca

In the original Latin
 
Directed by Daniel Gallagher and Nathan Chazan
  
Sunday, April 21, 2019 – 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019 – 7: 30 p.m.

Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium – Klarman Hall
 
Admission is free.
For more information:lmb296@cornell.edu

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(Photo: "Empty Theatre (almost)" by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in Performances on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 8:20am by Erik Shell.

The Many Faces of War V: An annual interdisciplinary symposium on the experience and impact of war throughout history

 October 17th-18th, 2019 at South Dakota State University

This annual interdisciplinary conference aims to address both the experience and impact of war for those fighting as well as for those on the periphery of combat.  

The conference is aimed equally at postgraduate students, researchers in the early stages of their careers and established academics. There are no specific geographical or temporal parameters regarding the subject matter of papers, and scholars and students of ancient, medieval and modern warfare are encouraged to submit proposals. We would also encourage the proposal of panels of three papers.

 This year we encourage a focus on veterans and associated studies or experiences. Suggested topics are: PTSD; the social stigma of retreat or cowardice; social security systems for war widows and orphans; the effect of training on a soldier’s mindset and actions (before, during and after combat); the social position of soldiers and veterans;  literature and poetry of war; the art and architecture of war and remembrance. 

Proposals/abstracts should be no longer than 250 words and should be sent to:

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 03/20/2019 - 8:42am by Erik Shell.

SCS is pleased to announce the addition of a candidate to the 2019 election slate for President-Elect. Professor Shelley P. Haley has received the support of over 30 SCS members, and, in accordance with Bylaw 30, she has been added as a candidate in the upcoming summer elections. You can view the updated slate here.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 03/18/2019 - 1:34pm by Helen Cullyer.

The 2019 Election Slate is now available. Please click here for a list of candidates nominated by the Nominating Committee and for instructions for those members who wish to petition to be added to the ballot. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 03/18/2019 - 11:41am by Helen Cullyer.
Three Roman votive offering representing faces. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0: https://wellcomecollection.org/works/vy2engnk

Emma-Jayne Graham discusses her newly launched digital project with Jessica Hughes called The Votives Project, which examines ancient religion, medicine, and the divine through the lens of votive offerings in ancient sanctuaries and beyond. 

“There must be lots of people working on material like this – wouldn’t it be great to be able to talk to them too?” This was the gist of a conversation with my colleague Jessica Hughes which eventually led to the creation of The Votives Project: a website and network of people from different backgrounds who study, create, or use votive offerings or other related ways of communicating with the divine.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 03/14/2019 - 3:45pm by Emma-Jayne Graham.

11–14 November 2019
Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno

The event represents a unique opportunity to bring together scholars from various disciplines of Classical Studies and other Humanities to share ideas on the playwriting of Titus Maccius Plautus, especially the performative aspects of his comedies and the process of their reception and adaptation to different languages and for the stage.

The participants are invited to fit their talk into one of the following panels:

1) Plautus on Page
Possible issues: How does the linguistics, art history, social/cultural/judicial studies, etc. contribute to our understanding of Plautine comedies as play texts? What are the sources and limits of reconstructing the actual stage practices of the ancient Roman theatre performances? Ancient intradialogical and extradialogical stage directions – how to read and understand them? And other.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 03/12/2019 - 2:30pm by Erik Shell.
Blue Women

All tickets are now reserved for the free staged reading and discussion of Emily Wilson's Odyssey translation at BAM on March 15 at 7.30pm. There will be a standby line. Reserved seats must be claimed by 7:20 p.m. Unclaimed seats will then be released to those on the standby line. 

Doors open at BAM Fisher (321 Ashland Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11217) at 6:30 p.m. for a book signing by Emily Wilson. Please bring your own copies for signing, as we will not be selling books.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 03/11/2019 - 8:51am by Erik Shell.

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The Many Faces of War V: An annual interdisciplinary symposium on the

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