Classics and Social Justice Mentorship Program

The new Intersectional Mentoring Program was initiated by the SCS Classics and Social Justice Affiliated Group as an expansion of the Women’s Classical Caucus mentoring program, and in collaboration with the Mountaintop Affiliated Group, the Lambda Classical Caucus, and Sportula. Advisors from these groups will continue to oversee the program.

MENTORSHIP FORM

After you have filled out this form, you will be matched by a member of the mentoring board and introduced to your mentor/mentee. You can expect an initial response to your query within a month. Write to mracettecamp@mun.ca with concerns.

The mentoring relationship will end after a year unless both parties decide to renew.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact:

Melissa Funke (WCC Mentoring Co-Chair, 2017-18): m.funke@uwinnipeg.ca

Melanie Racette-Campbell (WCC Mentoring Co-Chair, 2018-2019): mracettecamp@mun.ca

Liaisons: Mountaintop/LCC/CSJ Sanjaya Thakur (Sanjaya.Thakur@ColoradoCollege.edu), Daniel Leon Ruiz (dleon@illinois.edu), Deborah Kamen (dkamen@u.washington.edu), Nancy Rabinowitz (nrabinow@hamilton.edu)

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Slack for classicists with disabilities

Email Clara Bosak-Schroeder <cbosak@illinois.edu> to join a slack workspace for students, scholars, and instructors in classics, Greek and Roman history, classical archeology, or classical art history with disabilities, neurodiversities, and chronic illness of all kinds.

Members workshop problems, share research, and give each other support. Postings are private. Display names can be anonymous.

Notes from CSJ meeting at CAAS 2018

Notes from Nancy Rabinowitz on the Classics and Social Justice meeting from CAAS 2018:

We had an informal meeting (very late!) at CAAS Oct. 4-6, 2018; about 10 people showed up. The conversation was wide-ranging and there were lots of ideas! We announced the new mentoring program and shared a link to the form. We’ll be sending that out soon.

  • First the question of Public Humanities came up, how to be better at it, how to use the media to counter the white supremacy narrative. Could we get a reporter to come to the meetings in San Diego?
  • Another idea was a volume on Race and Justice in Classics. This could be part of a series that Routledge approached Fiona McHardy and me about.
  • There was enthusiasm for more local events, maybe around a speaker or just drinks. More communication!
  • Thinking bigger, the idea of a conference was floated, and Leah Himmelhoch volunteered to look into whether Hobart and William Smith might host a conference on Classics and Social Justice.
  • Ideas for the blog: a message board, or a discussion board and using zoom for virtual gatherings.

Write-up: Race and Ethnicity Syllabus Workshop at CAAS 2018 (Philadelphia)

By David Wright (@rmavirumquecano).

At the 2018 meeting of CAAS in Philadelphia, CSJ and MRECC hosted a race and ethnicity syllabus workshop. It was a great success! The panel had about 20-25 attendees who were a mix of high school and college teachers. It quite appropriately preceded and complemented a panel on Afro-Greeks in honor of Emily Greenwood.

The topic of race and ethnicity in the Classics classroom has long been an important point of discussion. Recent political events have brought the issue to the fore to the point where it is impossible for any classicist to ignore.

This panel focused not only on the topic of race and ethnicity in the college classroom, but in high school classes as well. The panel gathered several speakers who have experience teaching the topics of race, ethnicity, and slavery.

Maggie Beeler (Temple University) discussed her experiences teaching “Race in the Ancient Mediterranean” GenEd course, which she first taught right after Charlottesville. She uses three main texts: Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World source book (eds. R.F. Kennedy, C.S. Roy, and M.L. Goldman), Race: Antiquity and its Legacy (D. McCoskey), and various articles from Eidolon. She makes of use of anonymous live polls using PollEverywhere in order to have students explore notions of identity. Maggie grounds the discussion of the ancient texts with discussions of contemporary issues related to race in America.

Dani Bostick (John Handley High School) shared ways high school Latin teachers can approach these topics. She spoke of her own experience with Latin’s role in the segregation of her high school: the majority of students in her Latin class were white in spite of the fact that she taught at a school that had a majority of students from underrepresented backgrounds. She strives to make her class accessible to all students, regardless of background. She frequently incorporates discussions of race, ethnicity, slavery, and migration in her Latin classes. In particular, she stresses the similarities between American antebellum slavery and slavery in the ancient world as opposed to the differences and has students critically examine the ways Latin textbooks treat the subject of slavery.

Denise Eileen McCoskey (Miami University of Ohio) has taught a course on race and ethnicity in the ancient world for approximately two decades.  She makes the point that institutional support is critical, and that she is fortunate to be in an academic environment that values this type of curriculum.  She stresses the importance of using Critical Race Theory in the course. Her course asks three main questions: 1) what are “race” and “ethnicity”?; 2) how should we apply these concepts to study of the classical past? (McCoskey emphasizes to her students her preference for the terminology of “race” 3) how have perceptions of race and ethnicity in antiquity shaped modern conceptions of identity and difference? Overall, she aims to equip students with the methods to be “historians of race” who can critically address constructions of race in any time period or context.  Finally, she highlighted the use of two case-studies she has found effective: the study of Alexander the Great’s racial “policies” (often idealized today in perceptions of his striving for “One World”) and Cicero’s pro Fonteio, which raises powerful questions about who should be believed and why in Roman legal contexts.

Kassandra Miller (Union College) teaches the course, “The Ancient Other.” She brings in experts in diversity and inclusion to help ground discussions of race and ethnicity into her classes of (mostly) white students. She also uses theater projects to engage students. One project involves students imagining that they are putting on a production of the Medea. Students consider questions such as: whose story are you telling? Who do you want to represent? Who do you want your audience to be? How do you actually put on the production? Kassandra also invited her campus’ Dean of Diversity and Inclusion to team-teach a class session. Together, they helped students translate lessons learned in the course of their study of race and ethnicity in antiquity into concrete actions which will promote diversity and inclusion in their daily lives.

Jackie Murray (University of Kentucky) is currently designing a course on the Medea that examines Medea both in the ancient and modern world. The first half of the course explores the myth in Classical texts in order to foster discussions of ethnicity in antiquity. In the modern world, she focuses on the reception of Medea among black authors who represent the heroine as a woman of color. The final segment of the course will involve an assignment that has students translate the Medea into a modern Kentucky dialect.

Elina Salminen’s (University of Michigan) talk looks at teaching race and ethnicity in conjunction with community-based learning. Elina has students engage with local communities so that the students can directly apply what they learn in class to the world around them — particularly from an intersectional perspective.  Elina has three suggestions for community-based learning: 1) collaborate with experts on particular topics; 2) keep it local; 3) take time for comparisons and analysis (e.g., comparing ancient slavery with contemporary sex trafficking). Elina brings up the important point about teaching topics of race and ethnicity from a point of privilege. How can the oppressors teach about oppression?

David Wright (Fordham University) brings up the issue that not every department can have an entire course devoted to race and ethnicity. He offers examples of texts that could easily be incorporated into civilization courses. Euripides’ Ion in particular is useful – it can be used in a literature or history-focused class. David is currently using the text in both his Athenian Democracy and Greek Drama class. The play is a great way for students to analyze the social constructions of race and autochthony.

Jackie, Kassandra, and David all talked about how titles of courses can attract or discourage certain types of students. A course like “Greeks, Romans, and Barbarians” tends to draw in white males who might not expect to be critically questioning conceptions of race and the Other in a class like this. On the one hand, it might be a way to “trick” students into having discussions about race and ethnicity who might not normally encounter the subject. David spoke of using the class Ancient Athletics to get students thinking about race as a construct since a focal point of the course examines the constantly changing idea of “Greekness.” At the same time, a title like “Greeks, Romans, Barbarians” might be alienating to students of color. Jackie shared her experience changing the class title from “Greeks, Romans, and Barbarians” to “Is Classics for White People Only?” – the result was a much more diverse group of students.

Audience feedback was particularly helpful. It is clear that there is a strong imperative for classicists to engage with these issues. White teachers should not shy away from this despite the anxiety it might cause. One especially important comment came up regarding the duty of many teachers to acknowledge and own their own privileged identity. We also identified that this issue is twofold: to increase our discussion of race and ethnicity in the classroom and to diversify our field. These two ideas intersect.

Thanks are in order for Rebecca Kennedy for her support with the abstract for this workshop and Nancy Rabinowitz, whose suggestion was the first spark that caused this workshop to come together. We are also extremely grateful to Vicky Austin-Perry for live tweeting the whole panel.

All workshop materials can be found here. For more resources on race and ethnicity in the Classical world, please see Rebecca Kennedy’s website.

Teaching the Ancient Migration Experience

Introducing immigration into the Classics classroom is part of the discipline’s ongoing commitment to represent the ancient Mediterranean’s diversity more clearly to our students. As Suzanne Hakenbeck has argued, much of our recent archaeological and historical work on the ancient Mediterranean has underrepresented the role of migration. Nineteenth century scholars like Christian Jurgenson Thomsen (famous for the creation of the problematic Three Age System) tended to characterize European cultures as static, and twentieth and even twenty-first century research has done little. Consequently, peoples on the move have been considered problematic interlopers, harbingers (or, if you ask Edward Gibbon, agents) of the downfall of great empires. More often, however, migrant histories are left out altogether. This omission leaves students with a partial view of the ancient world, one that problematically equates modern nation-states with ancient peoples and presents human mobility as a modern phenomenon.

More recently, some scholars have tried to shine a light on mobility, migration, and its role in the ancient Mediterranean world. Over the summer of 2017, I participated in an NEH Summer Institute on migration in late antiquity at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, directed by the Richard Talbert and Michael Maas. Over the course of the month, my 29 fellow Summer Scholars and I engaged in vigorous and productive debates about the nature of migration in this period from several methodological perspectives.

The challenge came that fall, when I applied my knowledge to a seminar course at Bucknell University entitled “Migration and Immigration in the Classical World.” Focused on the Hellenistic and Roman periods, this course focused on developing a critical and theoretical vocabulary for discussing migration, analyzing primary and secondary sources related to the topic, and strengthening writing and communication skills. The course had only 5 students, which allowed me the luxury of close consultation with my students as they navigated this difficult topic. I organized readings thematically, devoting units to xenia, ethnicity, diaspora, economic migration, and wrapped up the term with a focus on “state-sponsored migrations,” a polite term for forced migrations driven by imperial administrations and war.

Discussions in the last unit proved to be the most challenging. We began with a discussion of slavery as a major mover of peoples. Teaching slavery in antiquity is always difficult, but I felt strongly that students needed to consider how dislocation and migration would have factored into the slave experience. As part of these sessions, I relied on my training as an archaeologist and art historian to highlight the lived experience of ancient slavery. Using Walter Scheidel’s articles on human mobility in the Roman Empire, I asked students to break into pairs and reconstruct the journey that people captured during Roman military campaigns might have traveled as they entered into bondage. I then shared with them objects and buildings that have been associated with ancient slavery, from slave collars to the potential slave market in the Eumachia Building at Pompeii. These objects ground discussions of slavery and help students engage more concretely with the horrors and lived experiences of ancient people. But they also help us to understand the material impermanence of people and challenge the idea that those who move are not worth counting.

Teaching this topic also requires an extra level of attention to classroom culture. Pedagogical research has suggested that building an environment of trust and respect in the classroom is critical to student learning, particularly for students who come from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds. For a university like Bucknell, which traditionally serves students of privileged backgrounds, part of my challenge was to push students to see beyond their own experiences, to imagine what it would be like to migrate across the ancient Mediterranean. Building these cultures is an ongoing part of my pedagogy, one that requires a deep commitment to modeling the types of behaviors and inquiries I want my students to see. Sometimes this meant ensuring that one student did not speak over another, but it also meant gently correcting students when they used outdated or offensive terminology and asking uncomfortable questions about the present. In the spring, I will teach this course again to a larger and more diverse set of students, which will require a deeper and more concrete commitment to developing a positive and respectful classroom culture.

The most important thing we can do when we teach this topic, however, has little to do with the past. Gibbons’ idea of the “barbarian hordes” still rings through in much modern news coverage of immigration into the US and Europe. The first unit of the course, which focuses on critical vocabulary, asks students to think about the language used to describe immigration. Paired with a presentation on Syrian migrants in contemporary Greece and a film screening of a modern film on migration across the US-Mexico border, my students found resonances between ancient and modern migrations. These connections prompted valuable discussions about cultural boundaries, the value of human life, and the political and cultural rhetorics surrounding migration that were the highlight of the semester. As I prepare to teach this course again, this time to a larger and potentially more diverse group of students, my goal is to bring out the commonalities between antiquity and modernity even further.

Lindsey A. Mazurek

lmazurek@uoregon.edu

The Sportula: Microgrants for Classics Students

Reposting of a message from Ellen Lee (ellen.cole.lee@gmail.com) and The Sportula.

Happy beginning of fall semester, everyone! A reminder that, as the new school year begins, many students struggle not only to engage with difficult material and challenging questions, but also to pay for books, fees, and, often, even basic necessities. (A whopping 36% of undergraduates lack food and housing security.)

The Sportula is a collective working to provide microgrants — petty cash of $5-$300 — to economically marginalized undergraduates in Classics. In addition to funding no-questions-asked, no-strings-attached microgrants, we have also worked to connect students with resources for non-monetary needs (e.g. finding a free copy of a textbook or a faculty mentor).

If you’re an undergraduate student in need of funds or other resources, contact us at libertinopatrenatus@gmail.com or via Facebook or TwitterIf you’re a BIPOC, working class, undocumented, and/or financially-marginalized classicist at any stage of your career, feel free to join our private Facebook group.

For more information about The Sportula and how you can get involved, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, check out our blog, and read our feature on Eidolon, On Not Knowing (How to Pay for) Greek. If you want to donate, you can contribute via GoFundMe and/or by becoming a recurring monthly patron starting at $1 at our Patreon.

Help us get the word out to undergrads in need! Please print one of the attached posters and post in your department.

Thanks!

The Sportula Collective

 

Sportula Poster (3).jpg

Postdoc opportunity at University of Michigan aimed at promoting diversity

A message from Profs. Sara Ahbel-Rappe and Sara Forsdyke of the University of Michigan on their upcoming opportunity in the LSA collegiate fellowship program. This is a postdoc that can lead to a tenure track position in Classical Studies, aimed at recruiting candidates interested in promoting diversity.

Dear all,

I would appreciate it if you would advertise the following position on the CSJ Blog and listserve.

https://lsa.umich.edu/ncid/fellowships-awards/lsa-collegiate-postdoctoral-fellowship.html

The deadline is Oct. 1 for our LSA collegiate fellowship program that is designed to recruit diverse junior faculty and ultimately lead them to a tenure-track job.

Ideally, interested applicants would be able to look on the UM Classical Studies website, identify a potential Departmental mentor and make contact with that person. Also Sara Ahbel-Rappe or Sara Forsdyke would be very pleased to look at letters of application ahead of time or to explain the DEI component and narrative in more detail.

For more information please write to rappe@umich.edu or forsdyke@umich.edu.