CAAS Workshop — Beyond Content Warnings: Sexual Violence in the Secondary and Post-Secondary Classroom Workshop

Saturday, October 12, 8:00am-10am at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Classical Association of the Atlantic States in Silver Spring, MD.

Organized by David Wright and Dani Bostick

Abstract:

As the #MeToo movement has recently shown in an unprecedented way, sexual violence is everywhere in our world. Despite its prevalence, the topic of sexual violence is often rendered invisible in the classroom. The invisibility of sexual violence in the classics classroom is problematic since it obscures a common theme in ancient world and reinforces the cultural dynamics that contribute to the underreporting and normalization of sexual violence. This workshop will gather educators of all levels to address these topics.

 

Sexual violence is omnipresent in ancient literature and history, from the rape of the Thetis to the rape of the Sabine women. Sometimes ancient texts will sidestep discussion of the rape by calling it an “abduction” or by using a euphemism (γάμος can also indicate rape). Other times, instructors will internalize ancient ideas about rape and downplay the significance of this sexual violence: “The rape of the Sabine women wasn’t really rape.” Or instructors will fail to acknowledge the complex power dynamics of situations like sexual relationships between enslavers and the enslaved. Text books and commentaries often fail in this regard as well. Figures like Leda, Europa, and Io are considered Zeus/Jupiter’s “lovers.” Translators often use terms like “ravish” or render rape scenes consensual (McCarter 2018). There is also a lot of victim blaming in antiquity (e.g., Hdt. 1.4) or claiming that women are “liars” (as in the myth of Phaedra); These harmful and untrue narratives are repeated in contemporary rape culture. In reality, only 8% of rape claim are found out to be false. If these topics are not properly addressed, it could lead to students internalizing these regressive ideas about consent.

 

There are many reasons teachers prefer to avoid conversations about sexual violence in the classroom. For starters, sexual violence is a highly-stigmatized, uncomfortable topic. Few other types of trauma are cloaked in such frequent silence. The average age of disclosure for child sexual abuse, for example, is 52. Many survivors of this type of abuse and other forms of sexual violence never disclose. Educators also avoid this topic out of fear. Coverage of trigger warnings invariably includes the message — overt or implied — that discussing traumatic situations can harm students and make them so uncomfortable that they need to leave the classroom. Teachers of secondary students may worry that parents or administrators will complain or that these discussions are outside the bounds of their curriculum.
It is important for educators to be able to navigate this topic effectively since it is so prevalent in ancient history, literature, and art, and sexual violence and the abuse of power at its root are already familiar realities for many students because of personal experience, social media, news, and other modern rape narratives. It is also crucial for educators to be aware of the range of experiences: classrooms will be comprised of victims, perpetrators, and bystanders. Instructors need to make sure they do not reinforce harmful narratives of perpetrators and bystanders while simultaneously creating a safe environment for victims. Talking about sexual violence can help provide students a context while providing a deeper understanding of the ancient world.

The purpose of this workshop to equip attendees with tools for teachers of high school and college students to talk about this aspect of ancient art and literature in the classroom safely and effectively.

 

Topics will include: basic considerations & background on trauma/sexual violence (how to keep the conversation safe); inadequacy or harmful nature of materials; comparanda of practices from other disciplines; and the value and effective implementation of content warnings.

 

 

Select Bibliography

Beek, E.A. 2016. “Ovid’s Afterlives: Mythical Rapes and Rape Myths,” Eidolon.

Hong, Y. 2013. “Teaching Rape Texts in Classical Literature,” Classical World 106.4: 669-667.

James, S. 2014. “Talking Rape in the Classics Classroom: Further Thoughts,” From Abortion to

            Pederasty: Addressing Difficult Topics in the Classics Classroom (Ohio State University       Press), 171-182.

McCarter, S. 2018. “Rape, Lost in Translation,” Electric Literature.

Richlin, A. 1992. “Reading Ovid’s Rapes,” in Pornography and Representation in Greece and

Rome (Oxford University Press), 158-179.

Thakur, S. 2014. “Challenges in Teaching Sexual Violence and Rape: A Male Perspective,” in

From Abortion to Pederasty: Addressing Difficult Topics in the Classics Classroom

(Ohio State University Press), 152-170.

 

 

Advertisements

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

CFP: LGBT+ Classics: Teaching, Research, and Activism (February 2018, University of Reading)

The Women’s Classical Committee UK is delighted to announce the following event:

LGBT+ Classics: Teaching, Research, and Activism

12th February 2018

University of Reading

Organised by: Katherine Harloe, Talitha Kearey, and Irene Salvo

The Women’s Classical Committee UK is organising a one-day workshop on Classics and Queer studies to highlight current projects and activities that embrace the intersections of research, teaching, public engagement, and activism.

The day will feature a series of talks and a roundtable bringing together academics in Classics (and related fields), LGBT+ activists, museum curators and those working in other areas of outreach and public engagement. We intend to explore how LGBT+ themes are included in Classics curricula; how public engagement with queer Classics and history of sexualities can contribute to fight homophobia and transphobia; and the ways in which the boundaries between research, teaching, and activism can be crossed. The roundtable will focus in particular on strategies of support for LGBT+ students and staff, current policies in Higher Education, and what still needs to be improved. Confirmed speakers include: Beth Asbury, Clara Barker, Alan Greaves, Jennifer Grove, Rebecca Langlands, Sebastian Matzner, Cheryl Morgan, Nicki Ward, and Maria Moscati. Jennifer Ingleheart (Durham) will deliver the keynote address ‘Queer Classics: sexuality, scholarship, and the personal’.

We are also reserving time during the day’s schedule for a series of short (five-minute) spotlight talks by delegates. Through this session, we hope to provide a chance for delegates to share research projects, teaching programmes, and experiences related to LGBT+ issues. We are particularly interested in spotlight talks on:

new, queer and gender-informed work in classics, ancient history, archaeology, papyrology, philosophy, or classical reception;

fresh ideas on teaching the history of queerness through texts and material culture;

the difficulties and discriminatory experiences encountered by members of staff, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and early-career researchers, because of their gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

If you would like more information or to volunteer to give one of these talks, please send a brief description of your talk (about 80/150 words) to Irene Salvo, LBGT+ liaison officer, salvoirene@gmail.com. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday 5th December 2017.

People of any gender expression or identity who support the WCC’s aims are welcome to attend this event. For further details, see our website at http://wcc-uk.blogs.sas.ac.uk/about-us/.

Attendance is free for WCC UK members, £10 for non-members (to cover catering costs). You can join the WCC UK here<https://wcc-uk.blogs.sas.ac.uk/about-us/join-us/&gt; (and if you’re a student, underemployed, or unemployed, membership is only £5). As with all WCC events, travel bursaries will be available for students and the un/under-employed.

The WCC is committed to providing friendly and accessible environments for its events, so please do get in touch if you have any access, dietary, or childcare enquiries. For a full statement of the WCC’s childcare policy please see here https://wcc-uk.blogs.sas.ac.uk/events/.

An Open Letter to UChicago History Department

Read the letter to the UChicago History department regarding recent problematic statements on white supremacy in medieval studies by Professor Brown which endanger Professor Kim.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/mk2ifzv34803zlo/chicago_open_%20letter.pdf?dl=0

If you wish, sign the letter on the following signature page showing your support.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zKRLYSuifXs-vyTFB2420i-jAUPTyzpEajL15IeopR4/edit

Report: Classics and Social Justice at SCS 2017

This year’s SCS meeting saw the official launch of the new Affiliated Group for Classics and Social Justice. We hosted two very successful events—a round table attended by around 40 people, and an open meeting, where almost as many showed up. There were not even enough seats in our room to accommodate all the interested parties! In recognition of the immigration issues and other difficulties members faced in getting to Toronto, we streamed the meeting; you can view it at our Facebook page. We are also maintaining a listserv (contact Nancy Rabinowitz, nrabinow@hamilton.edu to be added to it), a blog, and a Twitter account (please follow @classics_sj).

The new Affiliated Group has been discussing issues of concern to classicists for around a year now, since the Rhodessa Jones performance at SCS 2016. Members presented a panel on Prison Teaching at CAAS in 2016, and we are planning a panel at the SCS in 2018 (see the CFP on the SCS website and on our blog and Facebook page; abstracts are due by January 31st).

The topics of interest to members of the groups assembled were wide and various; we have formed committees to think about ways to address them. Of course there are significant overlaps between these, and we hope to address those in our activities.

Diversity outreach in the profession (Dan-el Padilla, dpadilla@princeton.edu, and Dominic Machado, dominic_machado@brown.edu)

Economically disadvantaged (Amit Shilo, amitshilo@classics.ucsb.edu)

Immigration/undocumented status (Dan-el Padilla, dpadilla@princeton.edu)

Prisons (Nancy Rabinowitz, nrabinow@hamilton.edu)

Women-gender-sexuality issues (Amy Pistone, apistone@umich.edu)

Veterans (Roberta Stewart, Roberta.L.Stewart@dartmouth.edu)

Mental health/disability issues (Clara Bosak Schroeder, cbosak@illinois.edu)

We are very grateful for the enthusiastic welcome given to our new group, and look forward to meeting more of you at regional meetings or at the next SCS.

CFP: Classics and Social Justice SCS 2018

CFP:  The Classics and Social Justice Affiliated Group invites paper proposals for its inaugural Panel at the 2018 meeting of the SCS.
The panel organizers are Jessica Wright (USC) and Amit Shilo (UCSB).

We welcome papers that discuss any aspect of social justice work in which you are engaged as well as papers that theorize the place of social justice work in Classics and the place of Classics in social justice work.

Possible topics might include: the presentation of projects already underway (for instance, prison education or the use of Classics in other sites such as homeless centers or with veterans’ groups); the scope and limits of academic activism; appropriate methods for approaching social issues; performance and activism; and the power of specific Classical traditions to address the urgency of social change.

Please send anonymous abstracts of approximately 500 words to Professor Alexandra Pappas (apappas@sfsu.edu).

Deadline for the receipt of abstracts is January 31, 2017.
More information: please write to 
Classicists involved in activism:
CLASS-SJ@listserv.hamilton.edu

The newly formed Classics and Social Justice Affiliated Group is a forum for scholars who wish to integrate their academic expertise with community work promoting social justice and positive transformation. The group envisions its first panel as the beginning of a new, more formal conversation about Classics and Social Justice and an effort to discover what social justice work Classicists are doing outside of the classroom as well as inside of the classroom.