Classics and Social Justice at the 2020 AIA/SCS

Please let me know (amypistone at gmail dot com) if I’ve missed anything organized by our members or of interest to our members. We will continue to update this post up until the conference.

I would also encourage you to check out MRECC’s listing of papers of interest, available here.

Meeting and Social Events

(will be updated once the full schedules are available online)

Friday, 12 – 1 pm: Mountaintop Coalition Business Meeting (Gallaudet)

Friday evening: WCC/LCC Reception

Saturday, 2 – 3:15pm: Classics and Social Justice Open Meeting (University of D.C. room)

Saturday, 9 – 11pm: MRECC Reception

You can help sponsor reception refreshments!


Thursday, January 2

3:30 – 5:30pm: Dr. Robin DiAngelo, “White Fragility: Why is it So Hard for White People to Talk about Race?” (Independence Ballroom Salon B+C)

Friday, January 3

Joint Workshop on Bystander Training/Intervention

Responding to Harassment: Bystander Intervention (Workshop led by Collective Action for Save Spaces, D.C. Organized by Sarah Teets, University of Virginia, and Erika Zimmermann Damer, University of Richmond)

[This same event will be held three times throughout the day, each time beginning at the start of each Friday paper session]

1:45 – 4:45 pm: Classics and Civic Activism Workshop (Joint AIA-SCS Workshop)

Organized by T. H. M. Gellar-Goad, Yurie Hong, Amit Shilo, and Marina Haworth

Featuring representatives from Indivisible Guide, National Humanities Alliance, and the American Federation of Teachers

Kim McMurray (The Indivisible Guide, Electoral Organizing Director): Advocacy and Organizing 101 with the Indivisible Guide
Alexandra Klein (National Humanities Alliance, Communications Manager): Academia and Public Policy Advocacy
Lindsay Theo (American Federation of Teachers): Teachers, Contingent Faculty, and Civic Organizing

Additional Speakers for Session #28 (Lightning Round)
Kiran Mansukhani: Repurposing Classical Pedagogy for Philippine Land Rights Activism
Wynter Pohlenz Telles Douglas: Prison Abolition and the History of Slavery
Olga Faccani: The Odyssey Project: Performing Homer with Incarcerated Youth
Emily Allen-Hornblower: Greek Tragedy and the Formerly Incarcerated: Dialogues with the Broader Public
Kristina Chew: Using Greek Poetry and Drama to Advocate for Individuals with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities
Arti Mehta: Social Programs and Food Insecurity in Juvenal
Dan-el Padilla Peralta: Humanities Prep
Jerise Fogel: Community Bookstores and Community Organizing

1:45 – 4:45 pm: Black Classicism in the Visual Arts

Organized by Eos: Africana Receptions of Ancient Greece and Rome, Mathias Hanses, Caroline Stark, Harriet Fertik, and Sasha-Mae Eccleston

Margaret Day Elsner: Sugar Baby’s Riddle: Sphinx or Sibyl?
Samuel Agbamu: Metamorphoses in Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Stefani Echeverria-Fenn: When and Where I (Don’t) Enter: Afro-Pessimism, the Fungible Object, and Black Queer Representations of Medusa
Tom Hawkins: Centaurs and Equisapiens
Stuart McManus: Frank M. Snowden, Jr. and the Origins of the Image of the Black in Western Art
Michele Valerie Ronnick: “Every Time I Think about Color It’s a Political Statement:” Classical Elements in the Art of Emma Amos
Shelley Haley: Response

1:45 – 4:45 pm: Lesbianism Before Sexuality

Organized by the Lambda Classical Caucus, Kirk Ormand, and Kristina Milnor

Irene Han: Les Guérillères: Sappho and the Lesbian Body
Kelly McArdle: Rethinking Julia Balbilla: Queer Poetics on the Memnon Colossus
Rebecca Flemming: “I Clitorize, You Clitorize, They Clitorize…”: The Anatomy of Female Homoeroticism in the Roman Empire
Rachel Lesser: Sappho’s Mythic Models: Figuring Lesbian Desire through Heterosexual Paradigms
Kristin Mann: Tribad Philaenis and Lesbian Bassa: WLW in Martial
Sandra Boehringer: Response

5:30 – 10:30 pm: Black Classicism and the Visual Arts, a panel, reception, and Art Exhibition (organized by EOS: Africana Receptions of Greece and Rome)

Located at Busboys and Poets (450 K St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001)

Saturday, January 4

8 – 10:30am: Classical Reception in Contemporary Asian and Asian American Culture

Organized by Christopher Waldo and Elizabeth Wueste

Christopher Waldo: Introduction
Stephanie Wong: Princess Turandot, an Occidental Oriental
Kelly Nguyen: No One Knows His Own Stock: Ocean Vuong’s Reception of Telemachus and Odysseus
Kristina Chew: Translating the Voices of Tragedy’s “Other” Women: Theresa Has Kyung Cha’s Dictee and Seneca’s Phaedra
Priya Kothari: A Palimpsest of Performance: The Construction of Classicism in the Vallabha Tradition
Melissa Mueller: Response

10:45am – 12:45pm: Citizenship, Migration, and Identity in Classical Athens

Organized by Jennifer T. Roberts

Justin Yoo: Introduction
Rebecca Futo Kennedy: Environment-Based Identity and Athenian Anti-Immigrant Policies in the Classical Period
Naomi Campa: Power Struggles: Neaira and the Threat to Citizenship
Mary Jean McNamara: Plataean Citizenship: Dual Identities
Jennifer Roberts: Immigration and Exclusion: A Comparative Study
Konstantinos Kapparis: Response

12:15 – 1:45pm: Roundtable Discussion Session

Hestia BU Graduate Pedagogy (Organized by Alicia Matz, Shannon DuBois, and Ian Nurmi)
White Supremacy and the History of Future of Classics (Organized by Curtis Dozier)

1:45 – 4:45pm: Women in Rage, Women in Protest: Feminist Approaches to Ancient Anger (Seminar)

Organized by Erika L. Weiberg and Mary Hamil Gilbert

Suzanne Lye: Putting Pressure on the Patriarchy: The Subversive Power of Women’s Anger in Ancient Greek Literature and Magic
Erika L. Weiberg: The Problem of the Angry Woman and Herodotus’ Use of Tragedy in Two Athenian Logoi
Ellen Cole Lee: Irata Puella: Gaslighting, Violence, and Anger in Elegy
Mary Hamil Gilbert: Furor Frustrated: Policing Women’s Anger in the Pseudo-Senecan Octavia

1:45 – 4:45pm: Global Receptions 

Cynthia Damon, presiding

David Wray: “Learned Poetry,” Modernist Juxtaposition, and the Classics: Three Case Studies
Christopher Stedman Parmenter: Frank Snowden at Naukratis: Revisiting the Image of the Black in Western Art
Kathleen Noelle Cruz: Norse Gods in Tyrkland: The Manipulation of the Classical Tradition in Snorra Edda
Adriana Maria Vazquez: Dreaming of Hector in the Brazilian Neoclassical Period: Conceptualizing “Window Reception”
James R. Townshend: “Keep Quiet! You Can’t Even Read Latin!” The Satirical Purpose of Western Classics in Natsume Sōseki’s I Am a Cat

Sunday, January 5

8 am – 11 am: Beyond Reception: Addressing Issues of Social Justice in the Classroom with Modern Comparisons

Organized by David J. Wright and Lindsey A. Mazurek

Nicole Nowbahar: Using Cross-Dressing to Understand Ancient Conceptions of Gender and Identity
Curtis Dozier: Classical Antiquity and Contemporary Hate Groups
Matthew Gorey: The Reception of Classics in Hispanophone and Lusophone Cultures and Modern Imperialism
Lindsey A. Mazurek: Comparing Present and Past in the Migration Classroom
Daniel Libatique: Cultural and Historical Contingencies in Ancient and Modern Sexuality
Sam Flores: Race in Antiquity and Modernity

8 am – 11 am: Sisters Doin’ It for Themselves: Women in Power in the Ancient World and the Ancient Imaginary

Organized by the Women’s Classical Caucus, T. H. M. Gellar-Goad, and Serena S. Witzke

T. H. M. Gellar-Goad and Serena S. Witzke: Introduction
Catherine M. Draycott: If I Say that the Polyxena Sarcophagus was Designed for a Woman, Does that Make Me a TERF? Identity Politics and Power Now and Then
Alana Newman: Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Ptolemaic Faience and the Limits of Female Power
Krishni Schaefgen Burns: Cornelia’s Connections: Political Influence in Cross-Class Female Networks
Morgan E. Palmer: Always Advanced by Her Recommendations: The Vestal Virgins and Women’s Mentoring
Jessica Clark: Chiomara and the Roman Centurion
Gunnar Dumke: Basilissa, Not Mahārāni: The Indo-Greek Queen Agathokleia

11:45 am – 1:45 pm: If Classics is for Everybody, Why Isn’t Everybody in My Class? Building Bridges and Opening Doors to the Study of Classics

Organized by Elizabeth A. Bobrick and Danielle R. Bostick

Elizabeth Bobrick: Introduction
Sara Ahbel-Rappe: Increasing the Diversity of Graduate Students in Classics: The University of Michigan’s Bridge M.A. and Bridge to the Ph.D. Programs
Danielle R. Bostick: Creating Systemic Change within Existing Structures
Sonya Wurster: Integrating Diverse Cultural and Linguistic Backgrounds in the Latin Classroom, and Reconsidering the Place of Classics in Non-Western Traditions
Nina Papathanasopoulou: Expanding Classics through the Visual and Performing Arts, In and Out of the Classroom

2 – 4:30 pm: Theater of Displacement: Ancient Tragedy and Modern Refugees, Immigrants, and Migrants

Organized by Seth Jeppesen, Cecilia Peek, and Chiara Aliberti

Seth Jeppesen: Introduction
Hallie Marshall: Now We See You, Now We Don’t: Displacement, Citizenship, and Gender in Greek Tragedy
Allannah Karas: Aeschylus’ Erinyes as Suppliant Immigrants: Enchantment and Subjugation
Lana Radloff: The Sword, the Box, and the Bow: Trauma, (Dis)placement, and “New Canadians”
Sarah J. Thompson: How Sweet are Tears: The Uses of Lamentation in the Trojan Women and Queens of Syria
Chiara Aliberti: Response

Classics and Social Justice Panels/Workshops for AIA/SCS 2020

Please let me know (amypistone at gmail dot com) if I’ve missed anything organized by our members or of interest to our members. We will update this post with more information as the AIA/SCS gets closer!

If Classics is for Everybody, Why Isn’t Everybody in My Class? Building Bridges and Opening Doors to the Study of Classics

Organizers: Elizabeth Bobrick and Dani Bostick

Classics and Civic Activism Workshop

Organizers: Amit Shilo, Yurie Hong, and Ted Gellar-Goad

Beyond Reception: Addressing Issues of Social Justice in the Classroom with Modern Comparisons

Organizers: Lindsey A. Mazurek and David Wright

Joint Workshop on Bystander Training/Intervention

Co-organized by members of Classics and Social Justice, as well as the WCC, CODIP, and COGSIP

Women in Rage, Women in Protest: Feminist Approaches to Ancient Anger

Organizers: Erika Weiberg and Mary Hamil Gilbert

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: