Faculty News and Notes, 2015-2016
This past summer, Elizabeth and I went to Heidelberg through the support of the Alexander von-Humboldt-Stiftung. I spent a productive month at the Medieval Latin Institute (Seminar für Mittellatein) as a guest of Dr. Tino Licht. In addition to fruitful discussions with him and the graduate students, post-docs and emeriti in the Institute–including about future collaborations–I visited the University of Darmstadt several times, to study the medieval manuscripts in the collection there, in particular a group of manuscripts from St. James in Liège (housed in Heidelberg since the eighteenth century). During the year I published articles on the transmission of Tibullus, on the Gembloux Scriptorium (with my long-time friend and collaborator, Albert Derolez), and on some fragments of an otherwise lost medieval poem written at Gembloux around the year 1000, which I discovered during my last visit to Brussels. I signed a contract with Brepols Publishers (Turnhout, Belgium) for my book on the Liège schools, and also a contract with Harvard University Press to produce another volume for the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library (“the medieval Loeb series”); the volume will include the complete works of a tenth-century nun, Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim. I was fortunate to receive in December an Academic Excellence Award from the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, and that award will help with my travel expenses to Brussels this coming summer.
A major highlight of the past year was a series of exciting overseas trips. The first took me to Helsinki, Finland to represent Greek historiography alongside Carolyn Dewald at the annual international Melammu conference. Here I argued for Xenophon’s deployment in Hellenica of visual images, emotions, and perceptions to organize his narrative and express a distinct conceptualization of the past. The second took me to Oxford to celebrate (together with Chapel Hill colleague Emeritus Prof. Philip Stadter) the retirement of Prof. Chris Pelling, for whose Festschrift Fame and Infamy (OUP, 2015) I wrote an essay on characterization in Herodotus. As my third major excursion, I was delighted and honored to visit Melbourne for a week in February as the Keynote Speaker of the Annual Conference of the Australasian Society of Classical Studies. I spoke about women and myth in Herodotus on a panel on gender, and about the nature of speeches in Xenophon for the evening lecture. A further highlight of my year was the Herodotus graduate class in the fall, where a stellar bunch of graduates combined with splendid visitors made for a thrilling teaching experience. Publications that have most recently seen the light of day include articles on ‘Knowing Future Time in Xenophon’ and ‘Panthea’s Sisters’, in Trends in Classics and Classical World respectively. I’ve just embarked on overhauling my large course, ‘The Greeks’, assisted by a Center for Faculty Excellence grant, while I await the arrival in June of a little sister for Julia.
This fall I taught an outstanding group of beginners in Intro Greek, and read the Iliad (Advanced Greek) with a talented and interesting bunch of undergrads, postbacs, and graduate auditors from Classics and Comparative Literature. I have spent the spring term on research leave, working on my new book on conceptions of Asia Minor as Hellenic space in the Roman imperial period. I presented some of this research in a Furst Forum talk on “The City as Material Object in Aelius Aristides’ Smyrna Orations” and in a department Tea Talk on “Cartographic Thinking in Some Second Century Hymns.” Meanwhile, I have spent the summers getting more firsthand experience of Mediterranean space. In summer 2015, I presented a paper at a conference on “Journeys in the Roman East,” at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. While in Israel, I spent a week with Jen Gates-Foster, helping out and learning from her excavation team at Omrit, and visiting other archaeological sites in the area, including Jodi Magness’ dig at Huqoq. I look forward to spending this summer on Crete, working on Donald Haggis’ dig at Azoria and immersing myself in modern Greek.
In 2015-16, I continued my work with my two ongoing archaeological projects, Bir Samut in Upper Egypt and the Omrit Settlement Excavation Project (OSEP) in northern Israel. In December and January of this academic year I traveled to Egypt where we completed our fourth and final excavation season at the Ptolemaic fortification at Bir Samut in Egypt’s Eastern Desert. This remarkably well-preserved structure was constructed sometime in the early third century BCE and abandoned abruptly not long before 200 BCE. Occupied, at least in part, by the Ptolemaic army, the fort preserves a wealth of information on life in Egypt’s marginal desert zones where trade in war elephants and gold mining kept a busy community of soldiers, nomads and other transients occupied during the height of the Ptolemaic empire. My work at the site involves the identification and analysis of all the pottery recovered from the fort and its immediate environs. As with many categories of finds from the site, the ceramic vessels recovered are well-preserved and tell us a great deal about the activities that sustained daily life in this marginal region.
At Horvat Omrit, our project deals with a very different time period, but similar questions about the way that pottery can illuminate chronology and lifeways. The site of Horvat Omrit lies along the ancient road leading from Tyre to Damascus and was the location of a monumental early Roman Corinthian temple dedicated to an unknown cult. Our project examines the remains that lie north of the temple that are largely composed of domestic structures and some possibly monumental buildings of late Roman date (3rd-5th c CE). These late Roman buildings incorporate and overlie remains associated with the earlier period of the temple’s fluorescence and present us with a broad view of the site’s history. Indeed the latest material at the site is Ottoman in date, demonstrating a long history of occupation stretching even into the modern era. Our current excavation project, in the fourth of its five year plan, focuses on articulating the architectural and depositional history of the late Roman settlement. UNC undergraduates participate as excavators in the project and our excavation trenches are supervised by graduate students from Classics.
This has been another busy and wonderful year: I got tenure and, on a personal level, the placement of our two darling daughters has become permanent. Teaching in France and advancing my research on irony and Latin literature kept me busy during the summer, until the semester fell upon us with its usual intensity: I taught our large lecture course on ‘The Romans’ to undergraduates and Latin prose composition to (mostly) graduate students and continued to oversee the program for beginning Latin. I was pleased to see that two of my articles (one on Caesar and Polybius and another on Cicero’s Ad Familiares) were chosen to open the issue of two journals (CJ and CQ), and even more pleased, finally, to turn in the entire manuscript of The Cambridge Companion to Caesar, which kept me busy, off and on, for half a decade. In the spring I enjoyed teaching my first graduate seminar on Livy, and some of Cicero’s Pro Milone to undergraduates, while presenting some results of my research on irony at a couple of conferences.
I spent the academic year in Greece as the Elizabeth A. Whitehead Visiting Professor at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA), where UNC-CH Classics graduate students Emma Buckingham, Catharine Judson, and Alexandra Daly held fellowships, and Cicek Beeby was a visiting associate member in the spring. The beginning of the year saw the release of my volume of Classical Archaeology in Context: Theory and Practice in Excavation in the Greek World (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter), co-edited with Carla Antonaccio of Duke University. In addition to participating in the ASCSA’s stimulating Regular Program, I delivered the public lecture, “The Politics of Consumption in an Archaic Cretan City” (at Cotsen Hall in December), and devoted myself to a number of publication projects including contributions to M. Tsipopoulou’s Petras: The Pre- and Protopalatial Cemetery in Historical Perspective, Monographs of the Danish Institute at Athens, and I. Lemos and A. Kotsonas’s A Companion to the Archaeology of Early Greece and the Mediterranean, Wiley-Blackwell.
The Azoria Project continues for another season in the summer of 2016, with the goal of completing the excavation of the Communal Dining Building (an Archaic-period andreion) and continuing the exploration of houses at the periphery of the civic center of this early Greek city. This year’s team will include six of our students from Classics. Publication of the fieldwork continues with our latest submission to Hesperia this year: “A Hellenistic Tower at Azoria, East Crete and Harriet Boyd’s Excavations in 1900.”
In the last year, I have taught “Women in Ancient Greece,” two undergraduate Latin courses (Lyric in the fall, Roman comedy in the spring), as well as my graduate course “Ovid and Literary Theory.” I have articles forthcoming: “Rape and Repetition in Ovid’s Metamorphoses: Myth, History, Structure, Rome” (Repeat Performances: Repetition in Ovid, edd. Laurel Fulkerson and Tim Stover, Wisconsin, 2016) and “The Life Course of the Roman Courtesan” (The Roman Courtesan, ed. Ria Berg, Acta Instituti Romani Finlandiae). Forthcoming from Routledge Press’s Major Works Series is a 4-volume set, co-edited with Shelia Dillon, of reprinted articles on women in the classical world. Co-authored with Tim Moore (UNC Ph.D.) is “Roman Comedy in Performance: Using the Videos of the 2012 NEH Summer Institute.” I think it would be fair to say that Tim wrote the majority of this article! A special issue of Classical Journal (111.1, Oct/Nov 2015) was dedicated to the NEH Summer Institute that Tim and I co-directed in 2012, “Roman Comedy in Performance”). The YouTube site for the Summer Institute (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmBs1K1ruw2i48CmDku1HrQ/videos?view=0) records that there have now been over 20,000 views of the videos, in 121 countries worldwide. With Amy Richlin, I have co-organized a panel for the Feminism/Classics 7 conference in Seattle this May, “The Street and the Stage: Seeing Women in the Mid-Republic.” I delivered several talks by invitation this year, including the J. Ward Jones (UNC Ph.D.) lecture at William and Mary. An unexpected but delightful development: a Dramatic Arts major from my course on women in ancient Greece was taken by the life story (such as it can be told) of Chrysilla, the wife of Ischomachus, and wrote an excellent play about it for her scriptwriting class this semester; it won the Dramatic Arts Department’s 2016 Sam Seldon Prize for Playwriting. The Classics Department hosted a scene-reading that was a great success. The playwright is now interested in researching the Laudatio Turiae–stay tuned for further developments.
I’ve been on research leave for 2015-16 with a Loeb Classical Library Fellowship to work on my book Teaching, Pretending to Teach, and the Authority of the Speaker in Roman Didactic and Satire. I started the summer by speaking in June at the Vergilian Society’s Symposium Cumanum (at Cumae, near Naples, and very near the Cave of the Sibyl) on “Prophecy in the Aeneid Revisited: Lying, Exaggeration and Encomium in Aeneid 9 and the Shield of Aeneas.” In September I gave the keynote in London at our joint colloquium with Kings College London; my paper was on “Satire, Didactic, and new contexts for problems in Horace’s Ars Poetica,” and I heard four of our grad students give great papers. In the Fall I gave versions of my Aeneid 8 paper at the University of Richmond (host Erika Damer, Ph.D. 2010) and at Wake Forest (host Ted Gellar-Goad, Ph.D. 2012). At the SCS meeting in San Francisco, I was the respondent for the Vergilian Society panel looking back on 50 years of the “Harvard School” approach to Vergil. At CAMWS I was the respondent for a panel on teaching Vergil at the collegiate level, which for me is related to my ongoing work on the Focus Commentary project on the Aeneid. The commentaries are now being published by Hackett, and my co-editor Randall Ganiban and I are gathering and editing drafts of the commentaries on Books 7-12; my own new commentary is on Book 8 (earlier I did Aeneid 4). I also gave a version of my Aeneid 8 talk as the Eve Adler Memorial Lecture at Middlebury College in April. In March I traveled to Charlottesville for a Program Review of Virginia’s Classics Department, and in April took part in a seminar at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In November I was selected as the President-Elect of the Vergilian Society, and will be President 2017-2020; I am organizing the Society’s panel for the 2017 SCS, on “Vergil and Tragedy.” My 1996 book True Names is being reprinted by Michigan, without revisions but with an extensive new Introduction; I am also working on a revision of my chapter “Virgil’s Style” (they made me spell it that way) for a new edition of the Cambridge Companion to Virgil. But possibly my biggest news is in this last sentence: next academic year I will be a UNC parent, as my daughter Marika starts college at Carolina.
At the end of this academic year, I will retire after quatuor lustra at UNC. Words cannot express the satisfaction that these years have brought me, including the extraordinary undergraduates (both majors and those destined for all sorts of contributions to the well being of their contemporaries–citizens and foreigners alike), and the outstanding graduate students who are carrying on the excitement of discovery and sharing it with their own students, and last, but certainly not least, the support of my departmental colleagues and the administration of this marvelous University.
In terms of recent publications, I have returned to the author who first inspired my love of Greek–Homer–with articles on the end of the Iliad (“Achilles’ κῦδος in Iliad 24″) and on Odysseus’ sojourn on Scheria (“Phaeacian Therapy in Homer’s Odyssey“). I am happily leaving the Department in the care of extraordinary colleagues.
Although being chair absorbs much of my time and energy, I am able to squeeze in a few other activities as well. In the fall I taught our introductory lecture course on classical mythology. Although I’ve now taught it six or seven times, rather than getting tired of it I’m becoming if anything even more interested in it, since every year offers the chance to introduce small changes and improvements. I value it as one of our great opportunities to do outreach with people who may never take another course in Greek and Roman culture again. This spring I taught for the first time the junior seminar, our capstone course for our majors. I chose as the topic my current research interest, animal sacrifice in classical antiquity, which was a good fit for a course that’s supposed to cross the divisions between Greek and Roman, philology and archaeology. It was a sheer delight to work so closely with a group of thirteen very engaged undergraduates, all with background in the field, on a topic that is the focus of my own current research. And I think the students enjoyed it too!
Although I have little chance to do any substantive research, I am glad that I have the chance to try out my ideas with colleagues at other institutions, which I was able to do over the past year thanks to invitations to speak at the University of California (both Riverside and Los Angeles), the University of Virginia, Yale University, and the University of Michigan. This year I served as the co-chair of the Nominating Committee of the Society for Classical Studies, which took me to Philadelphia in October, and also on the external review committee for the Department of Classics at Harvard University, which took me to Cambridge in November. At this point I am glad to have few travel plans for the summer!