Edited volume: “Teaching Classics to the Incarcerated”

The prison teaching subgroup of the Classics and Justice Affiliated Group of the SCS has been presenting work in a variety of venues over the last several years. We are now editing a volume on “Teaching Classics to the Incarcerated” for publication in the Routledge Focus Series. We are asking for the submission of brief abstracts (350 words) by March 15. If you are currently teaching in a prison or have done so in the past, we welcome your participation. We want explicitly to invite submissions from the incarcerated or formerly incarcerated.

Our hope is that the volume will offer a comprehensive overview (or at least one as comprehensive as possible) of the wide range of incarcerated individuals – male, female, or gender non-conforming; young or old; serving long sentences or about to be released; etc. – who are reading and discussing classical texts and of the different ways in which they are approaching and reinterpreting them. The essays that we are envisaging will have a length of ca. 4000 words and will present either a practical or theoretical approach.

We have already had a very positive conversation with the press, and once we have all the abstracts in, we expect to be able to submit our proposal quickly, at least by the end of April. Full essays would be due at the end of October.

If you are involved in prison teaching but do not want to write an essay, we would like to know about the program you are in. And again, submissions from the incarcerated or formerly incarcerated are especially welcome.

Thanks,

Emilio Capettini (ecapettini@classics.ucsb.edu)

Nancy Rabinowitz (nrabinow@hamilton.edu)

Advertisements

Short reports on ongoing CSJ activities (January 2019)

Clara Bosak-Schroeder, Disability:

Disabled classicists had their first meetup in San Diego after sharing support and advice over Slack in the Fall of 2018. Krishni Burns (UIC) and Clara Bosak-Schroeder (UIUC) organized a panel for CAMWS 2019, “Learning Disabilities in the Classics Classroom.” Future projects include increasing accessibility in scholarly publishing and at the next AIA/SCS. To get involved or join the Slack, contact: cbosak@illinois.edu.

Nancy S. Rabinowitz, Prisons:

Since its inception, the Classics and Social Justice group has been home to those of us who are involved in prison teaching. While we have held several meetings at regional associations, and have participated in round tables at the SCS, this year saw the first SCS workshop specifically on teaching the incarcerated (see earlier blog post). This public event is the first (we hope of many) acknowledgements of the importance of this branch of social justice work in Classics: we mean it when we say classics for all!

The prison group of CSJ is about to launch an effort to find out who in the field is doing prison teaching, so that we have a fuller picture of what can be done with ancient materials. Finally, we are also planning to publish a volume on prison teaching (currently talking to Routledge). Please send materials and queries to Nancy S. Rabinowitz: nrabinow@hamilton.edu.

 

Responses to the SCS/AIA

We wanted to recognize and commend the departments and institutions who have made official statements condemning the racist events that took place at the 2019 SCS/AIA. If your organization or department has made a statement that is not included here, please let us know and we will include it.

Departments

UCLA Department of Classics

University of Washington Department of Classics

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of Classics

Organizations

The Sportula

The Women’s Classical Caucus

Ancient Philosophy Society

Society of Classical Studies

Women’s Classical Committee UK

Council of University Classics Departments, Institute of Classical Studies, and the Women’s Classical Committee UK

Individuals

Dan-el Padilla Peralta

Rebecca Futo Kennedy

Josephine Quinn

New Diotima

In the wake of recent calls for changes to the profession, the WCC invites people to submit syllabi and resources for those interested in teaching women, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, and disability in antiquity, as well as in classical receptions, to the new Diotima: https://diotimawcc.wordpress.com/about/. Send material to diotima.wcc@gmail.com.

Diotima (http://www.stoa.org/diotima/) and the WCC (http://wccaucus.org/) have long been resources for teaching about women; we wish to continue to serve as a repository for more inclusive intersectional courses and pedagogies.

Follow these links to the Classics and Social Justice group (classicsandsocialjustice@wordpress.com), MRECC https://www.facebook.com/groups/mrecc/), and Resources for Teaching Race and Ethnicity on Rebecca Futo Kennedy’s blog (https://rfkclassics.blogspot.com/p/teaching-race-and-ethnicity.html) for other sources. It is our hope that by working collaboratively and pooling our resources, we can better educate ourselves and improve as teachers.

 

Paid 2 Week Research Internship in Classics for Diverse Undergraduates

Dear Colleagues,

I ask your help in inviting Classics students to participate in the Michigan Humanities Emerging Research Scholars (MICHHERS) program. MICHHERS is one piece of a much larger set of initiatives that we have developed to promote and increase diversity in the Humanities at U-M. This all-expense-paid program is designed to interest and inform students about the research opportunities available for Humanities scholars at U-M.

The MICHHERS program will run from Monday June 10 to Saturday June 22, 2019. Participants will have the opportunity to work on a research project under the guidance of U-M faculty and current graduate students. Additionally, they will participate in department seminars, hear from graduate students about their experience and socialize with members of the program.  A graduate admissions workshop and social gatherings will round out the event.

Our fourteen day program will host talented students (juniors, seniors and those currently in terminal MA programs), particularly those from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in graduate education who are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Asian Languages and Literatures, Classical Studies, English, History, Linguistics, Romance Languages and Literatures, qualitative Sociology and any humanities field in Women’s Studies.

For more information, and to apply to participate in this program, please go to:

http://www.rackham.umich.edu/michhers

The application deadline is February 8, 2019.  Travel, lodging, and on campus meals of students attending will be fully paid. Participants will also receive a modest stipend of $1,000. In addition, students who subsequently apply to U-M will receive application fee waivers.

Michigan’s Department of N.N. and the Rackham Graduate School are committed to diversity in graduate education.  I would be grateful if you could forward this information and the attached announcement to interested and eligible students, as well as colleagues who may be aware of students who would be interested in participating.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best,

Sara Ahbel-Rappe
rappe@umich.edu

Classical Studies
MICHHERS Liason

Some Concrete Suggestions post-SCS by Yurie Hong

The racist incidents at the SCS in San Diego prompted many strong reactions ranging from shock and surprise to anger and despair as well as skepticism and dismissiveness. Many have already written statements and responses to the incidents (there’s a great roundup on the SCS blog here.) Outrage at the outrageous is appropriate and ‘hard conversations’ are good, but for any of this to matter, feelings must be funnelled into concrete action. The question that, I hope, is on everyone’s mind is, “What can we actually do to change things?”

The following is an excerpt of an email that I sent a few days after the conference to panel members and SCS leadership. I was heartened by their immediate and positive responses, and my impression from the SCS leaders who contacted me was that they were eager to hear more suggestions about what else they could do in both the short and long term. What follows has been lightly revised in response to feedback from members of the Classics and Social Justice group and recent announcements from the SCS. I’m sharing here with the hope that it can spur us all to continue to think creatively and proactively about what we can do — as individuals, department members, and members of professional organizations — to make the structural and cultural changes necessary for our field to be as inclusive, just, and intellectually vibrant as it can be.


As the major professional organization in North America, the SCS has tremendous power to shape the field – its mission, its makeup, and its practices – going forward. The SCS website could be a repository for or gateway to resources for all individuals and departments who would like to shift our field away from white supremacist and colonialist discourses.

The following is not a comprehensive list, but here are some examples of things that I would like to see:

  1. A clarifying statement about our field – what it has been and what it would like its role in the world to be. It would be great to include some language about how the field of Classics is enriched by the perspectives of people who have not always been part of the scholarly discourse – people of color, women, gender/sexual minorities, first-generation scholars, etc. – *because of* and not in spite of these backgrounds and identities, as Dan-el states so powerfully in his piece in the Medium: “my black being-in-the-world makes it possible for me to ask new and different questions within the field, to inhabit new and different approaches to answering them, and to forge alliances with other scholars past and present whose black being-in-the-world has cleared the way for my leap into the breach.”
  1. A statement on diversity and hiring
    On the above point, I don’t know how/where/if it could be stated but, in this era where seemingly all institutions expect professors to care about teaching as well as research, I would love to get the idea out there that diversity in the field should be valued and taken seriously as a factor in hiring, whether for visiting or tenure track positions.
    A hiring rubric, for example, could be boiled down to 3 more or less equally weighted components: 1. Teaching (quality/methods, experience, and potential), 2. Research, 3. Contribution to/Support for Diversity (e.g. in/out of the classroom, via research, and/or simply being a member of a non-majority group). Not only is this the right thing to do for all the pedagogical and intellectual value-added, it’s also a practical consideration given the demographic shifts in this country and increasing demands from students for a more diverse faculty.
    Best practices for mentoring and supporting junior faculty of color, who often face many structural barriers, such as carrying a heavier service and mentoring load, would also be welcome. In particular, departments and institutions could commit to counting this type of service more in tenure and promotion decisions or offer teaching relief or fellowship opportunities so as to assist in publication.
  1. Easy to find links to affiliated groups and committees that focus on diversity, such as the WCC, LCC, EOS, Classics and Social Justice, COGSIP, Mountain Top, etc. on the SCS website. Given that these groups are officially affiliated with the SCS and are already listed in the program, acknowledging them on the website would not only send a message about what the SCS is about; it would make it easier for undergrad/grad students, junior faculty, etc. to find those groups. (I think they’re on the website somewhere, but I can only find them by googling.) Affiliated group webpages could also house tips and guidelines of interest to their membership (see below).
  1. Guidelines for revising departmental webpages and course descriptions so as not to perpetuate harmful messages about ‘Western civilization’ and ‘The Canon’. This document could be housed under the Resources menu on the website and listed much like the “Tips for Teaching and Classics Research.”
    Maybe something akin to this style guide. I’m sure there are a number of blogposts that could be used as the basis for these guidelines. Here’s a link to Rebecca Kennedy’s handout for the ‘Centering the Margins’ panel, which contains comparisons of old and new versions of her course description.
  1. Some kind of diversity training/guidelines for journal editors and editorial boards? I don’t have much to add here but it’s obviously, as Dan-el demonstrated in his talk, something that should be addressed in a structural way.

Some of these things are more difficult and time-consuming than others, but I suspect that there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit here. We’ll never win over some people, but I have to believe that there’s a decent chunk of people at various stages of their careers who, for a lot of different reasons, just honestly don’t know that some of the go-to arguments about the value of our field can also contribute to white supremacist and colonialist discourse but would be willing to make some changes if they knew how to go about it.

I’m not under any illusion that such guidelines or statements will by themselves fix anything, but they can normalize a set of shared values and establish institutional protocols that can be useful. Case in point: the woman at the meeting was kicked out for violating SCS standards of behavior. Would that have happened if we didn’t have a code of conduct? I’m not really sure.

Anyway, all this to say that, for all the awfulness that occurred at the conference, I find it heartening that there are people who are working wholeheartedly and publicly for change. I’ve learned a lot from social media and these public conversations, much of which has made it into my own classes, departmental webpage/curriculum revisions, hiring committee meetings, etc. Information and resource-sharing so that people can make the structural and cultural changes where they can is how we change the way classics is done and what it will be in future. Thanks for reading.


While the SCS is mulling over those suggestions, here are some other things that individuals can do to make change:

  1. Support The Sportula – donate, tell students and faculty about The Sportula, encourage especially young classicists of color to participate in the Naked Soul conference in June.
  2. Get informed. If you haven’t already, check out Mathura Umachandran, Yung In Chae Helen Wong, and Stefani Echeverría-Fenn and Djesika Bèl Watson on the experience of being a classicist of color as well as this podcast with Jackie Murray; Sarah Derbew and Sarah Bond’s work on race, racism, and ancient art, Rebecca Kennedy’s very thorough website complete with teaching resources, and Donna Zuckerberg’s essay on what the role of classicists in a world that is still awash with racism and sexism and how to support scholars who are being harassed here and here.
  3. Look at the course descriptions and messaging in your own classes. A good place to start is Rebecca Kennedy’s Resources for Teaching Race, Ethnicity, Immigration, and Marginality in Classical Antiquity and materials from the Centering the Margins panel. It’s okay to start small but start somewhere and commit to building on those efforts as an ongoing project.
  4. Contact conference organizers and ask them to contact hotels in advance and tell them that you expect their staff to not racially profile people – not only potential conference attendees but everyone. Feel free to use/adapt this script:

“Dear X,

I’m sure you have plenty to do in planning/preparing Y conference. I was hoping, though, that you could contact the conference hotel and ask them to ensure that their staff have received appropriate diversity/implicit bias training. There have been a number of incidents where scholars of color have been racially profiled at professional conferences. We need to let hotels know that this is unacceptable and that we expect them to have protocols in place to ensure that such incidents do not occur.”

  1. When inviting speakers to campus, actively seek out speakers from historically underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds.
  2. Encourage your department to put out a statement, such as the one put out by University of Washington Department of Classics.
  3. Make it a priority in your department to revise departmental descriptions that give the impression that ancient cultures were inherently better than all others or that Greece and Rome were the first and best sources for all this is good in the world.
  4. Have your department convene a workshop or discussion series for faculty and students to talk about what classics means in the world and how we should talk about our field those outside it. We shouldn’t shy away from talking openly with our students about the history of our field and how various groups have used it for just and unjust ends. They are a part of our field and they deserve to be given the knowledge and opportunity to engage seriously with

This not at all a comprehensive list by any stretch but just some ideas to get started. Big changes are the result of lots of smaller individual acts. So if professional equity and justice matter to you (and I hope it does), pick a thing to do and just start doing it. There will always be more to do and not a single one of us will get all the things right all the time, but we have to start somewhere.

Co-Signatories

(scroll down to add your name!)

Nancy S. Rabinowitz
Hannah Culik-Baird
Amy Pistone, University of Notre Dame
Lindsey Mazurek, Assistant Professor of History, University of Oregon
Erin Walcek Averett, Creighton University
Alicia Matz
Danielle L Kellogg, Brooklyn College
Valerie M WIlhite
Melissa Funke, University of Winnipeg
Jacquelyn H. Clements
Dimitri Nakassis
Karen Carr, Portland State University
Dr. Tamara L. Siuda
Arum Park, Assistant Professor of Classics, University of Arizona
Casey Haughin, Johns Hopkins University
Joel P. Christensen
Bethany Hucks, Heidelberg University
Rebecca Futo Kennedy
Dr. Alexis Castor, Classics Chair (7/19), Franklin & Marshall College
Alex Claman
Elizabeth Heintges (PhD Candidate, Columbia University)
Andrew Tharler
Aven McMaster, Thorneloe University at Laurentian
Darby Vickers
Evelyn Adkins
Sharon L. James, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Thomas Rover
Vanessa Stovall, Classical Studies at Columbia, MA
Simone Oppen
Mali Skotheim
Molly Jones-Lewis, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), Dept. of Ancient Studies
Clara Bosak-Schroeder, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Verity Platt
Maxine Lewis
Ruby Blondell
Seth L. Schein
Kathryn Topper
Christine Johnston, Western Washington University
Helen King, The Open University, UK
Tom Sapsford
Judith P Hallett
Sara Ahbel-Rappe
Kristen Ehrhardt, John Carroll University
Serena S. Witzke, Wesleyan University
Darcy Krasne
Caitlin Hines
Amy R. Cohen, Randolph College, Center for Ancient Drama
Lillian Doherty
Elizabeth Manwell
Emily Baragwanath
Bonnie Rock-McCutcheon, Wilson College
Heather Vincent, Eckerd College
Naomi Campa
Laurie O’Higgins, Classical and Medieval Studies, Bates College
Marilyn B. Skinner, University of Arizona
K. Scarlett Kingsley, Agnes Scott College
Elizabeth M. Greene, Western Ontario
Sabrina Higgins, Simon Fraser University
David J. Wright
Kelly P. Dugan, University of Georgia
Professor Janet M. Martin, Emerita, Princeton University
Charlotte Hunt
Jeremy LaBuff
Kaitlyn Boulding
Chelsea Gardner, University of Hawaii
Adriana Cásarez
Stephen Hinds, University of Washington
Kassandra Miller
Rosa Andújar
Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides, Macquarie University, NSW Australia
David Fredrick, University of Arkansas
Amy Norgard
Laurel Fulkerson
Scott A. Lepisto
Clayton Schroer
Daniel Libatique
James Newhard
Lauren Donovan Ginsberg, Cincinnati
Elizabeth Hunter
Konnor Clark
Lauri Reitzammer, University of Colorado, Boulder
Luke Parker, University of Chicago
Nina Papathanasopoulou, Connecticut College
Susann Lusnia, Chair, Classical Studies, Tulane University
Deborah Kamen
Seán Easton
Catherine Connors, University of Washington
Susan Crane
Lauren Donovan Ginsberg, Cincinnati
Sarah E. Hafner
Heather Waddell, Concordia College (Moorhead, MN)
Harriet Fertik
Andrew Carroll, Latin Teacher
Christopher Nappa, University of Minnesota
Elizabeth Bobrick
Brooke Holmes
Christina Salowey, Hollins University
Sierra Schiano
Allison Glazebrook
Elizabeth Bevis, Johns Hopkins University
Katherine R. De Boer

 

Report on CSJ related events at the SCS 2019, Nancy S. Rabinowitz

This was a roller-coaster of a meeting, starting with a high of the Luis Alfaro lecture, ending with the very powerful prison workshop. But in between the SCS was the site of some very public racist incidents. Thus CSJ can’t rest on its laurels.

But here I want to accentuate the positive. Following the very successful appearance of Rhodessa Jones and the Medea Project at the San Francisco SCS, it seemed like a good idea to have such an event in San Diego. Luis Alfaro was the perfect choice for this Southern California meeting.

A Chicano born and raised in the Pico-Union district of downtown Los Angeles, Alfaro is the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship, popularly known as a “genius grant”, awarded to people who have demonstrated expertise and exceptional creativity in their respective fields. He is the first Playwright-in-Residence in the 84-year history of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the largest repertory theatre company in the United States, serving for six seasons (2013-2019).*

*Cited from Luis Alfaro.

The SCS and Onassis Foundation USA enthusiastically co-presented the Luis Alfaro lecture on opening night, From the Ancient to the Streets of L.A.: Imagining the Greek Classics for Communities Today. Alfaro is a committed activist, poet, performance artist, playwright and faculty member at USC. Of special interest to us at Classics and Social Justice, he unites both the terms in our name. He has used the Greek tragedies (Oedipus, Sophocles’ Electra, and Medea) as the basis for his own plays, Oedipus el Rey, Electricidad, Mojada. The event was electrifying (pun intended) as Alfaro discussed the ways in which he envisions his plays creating community. Born in E. LA, many of his scripts are set in the barrio, but they are also produced nationally. In those cases, he told us, he spends up to a year in the cities where they will be performed, engaging local people in the project. This means that the actual performance truly represents the voices of the people. In listening to the concerns of those who will be in the audience, Alfaro’s work demonstrates what real “diversity” can look like. He illuminates the importance of the arts and the classics in social change. He ended with a peroration to the importance of love and family in the myths. The event was an inspiration for the standing-room only audience as to how the materials in the Classics curriculum can be used for radical purposes.

A panel the following morning (with presentations by Mary Hart, Amy Richlin, Tom Hawkins, Rosa Andújar, Jessica Kubzansky, and Melinda Powers) examined Alfaro’s work from both scholarly and artistic points of view. It introduced his plays to some who had perhaps never heard of him and gave insight to those of us who teach his work regularly.

Finally, on the last day, the Classics and Social Justice Prison Group sponsored a workshop on “Teaching the Incarcerated.” Chaired by Elizabeth Bobrick, there were five other very brief papers (presented by Nancy Felson [in absentia], Alex Pappas, Nancy Rabinowitz, Sarah Rappe, Jessica Wright), followed by a very full discussion of the issues that the opening statements brought up. It soon became clear that there is no one model for teaching in prison, any more than there is one model for college teaching itself. The workshop participants will be posting resources on the Classics and Social Justice blog, as they become available. The Classics and Social Justice Group will continue to try to bring together those who are doing this work.

To return to the roller coaster, however, these events are a drop in the bucket. We cannot, as the song says, simply eliminate the negative without hard work. There is much to be done, and thanks to colleagues who are leading the struggle to bring Classics into the present and perhaps into the future.

Nancy S. Rabinowitz,
Hamilton College, Clinton, NY

Editor’s addition: Luis Alfaro’s opening night lecture, and the panel the next day on his work were live tweeted by Benjamin Stevens (@beldonstevens) and Hannah Čulík-Baird (@opietasanimi) respectively. See below: