Monday, January 1, 2007

Professional Developments

Given the thread begun in the Job Search Updates section about questions of specialization, as well as professional and departmental expectations (and in light of more than a few reactions, both posted and emailed, towards what was designed to be an inclusive and yet secure password process), it seems like a forum to discuss broader issues within the fields represented by the APA and AIA is a (dare I use this word? :-) desideratum.

Here it is.

150 comments:

Anonymous said...

It looks like SCs really need generalists anyway, who can do languages, history, and civ courses, in addition to art and archaeology. Has anyone else noticed this?


It's rare enough to find an archaeology position, let alone one where the teaching duties reflect the research interests of the scholar. Greek, Latin, myth, etc. are often the responsibility of archaeologists. In my experience, this stance has more to do with the objectives of a "Classics" department than enrollment. I'm not an archaeologist, but we historians are often in the same boat teaching large survey courses.


I agree with many of the points raised above. I do feel a little put off by the status of archaeologists in the job search, generally, and in some classics departments. In a way, 'classical archaeology' seems like a euphemism for 'designated service course instructor': teach the broad surveys, teach the language courses -- with the goal of creating more majors. I want to add, however, that I would happily be burdened with those responsibilities . . .

"I want to add, however, that I would happily be burdened with those responsibilities . . ."

Therein lies the issue - archaeologists willingly accept this second-class status, but it will change. If you look carefully at the classics departments thriving in this economy, they are the ones that either have a sympathetic dean or one with a fair share of archaeologists and historians. I teach at a SLAC in Michigan, and this is plainly obvious in this economic toilet of a state. Grand Valley State University is one of the newest classics departments with several out-of-the-closet archaeologists. The department and the local AIA chapter are thriving. Look at Wayne State University. I heard that they just shut down the department there, what a surprise - basically 3 Latinists and 3 Hellenists with no clue where the Mediterranean is on the map. These dinosaur departments that don't adapt will eventually go extinct as surely as all the Assyriology programs that thrived in the early 20th century. The Bible has been greatly minimized in our culture and classical literature is next.

It depends on the job whether archaeologists get pressed into service or not. They will at small colleges and some universities: but at large R1 universities, such as the three I've taught at, they can refuse to teach Greek and Latin and large intro courses in classical civ with impunity - leaving the philologists and the historians (who seem to get short shrift both ways) to do those big lecture "service courses," which keeps them from doing the type of specialized-
topics-course-related-to-my-research that said archaeologists hold out for. Point is, you can't keep everyone happy all of the time.

Either way, I think the best way to guarantee a job in today's market is to be able to teach the languages, and to be good at it.

I apologize for starting/continuing a debate in a location that's inappropriate for it, but I do want to say: I can't deny the truth of what you write, but I can say that teaching languages is an inappropriate use of the skills of a trained archaeologist or art historian. It doesn't serve students, it doesn't serve the teacher, and it doesn't serve the university, from any rational perspective. Imagine asking a philologist to stand up in front of a class and teach the archaeology of Greece or Rome. They'd be shocked (correctly) by the ridiculousness of such a request. What archaeologists do has now become so complex and specific that we can't just be considered philologists who get dirty every summer.

I'm on the market, but I'm lucky enough not to need a job next year, and I plan to bring this up in at least one interview (should I be so lucky to have the chance). I don't mind teaching huge lecture courses (and I've done it), but specialized courses like languages? Forget it.

Hoss is right that this discussion doesn't belong here--but it is an important discussion. Can a new place be made for it?


First of all, I apologize for such a discriminatory clue. I must admit that it seemed innocuous enough, but at the same time would keep the barbarians out. I didn't mean to keep the archaeologist out as well!

That said, I thought it more important to be "google" proof. What I came up with fit the bill, while at the same time being solvable for the widest possible necessary audience. I do hope you all, archaeologists included, can understand the conundrum I faced, and realize that my solution was not meant to be especially difficult for any one group. So, I am sympathetic to the non-Latinists amongst us, but not sure what else to do.

Personally, I find the conversation you have started here both interesting and necessary. I will create another post and comments section for just this sort of thing. I do hope people join in. I had not heard about the Wayne State department, though I have heard rumblings about similar events at other schools. It is a phenomenon we all, philologists, historians and archaeologists, need to pay close attention to.

I just want to point out that as a philologist who has ha to teach not only Classical archaeology but also history of the NEear East and Egypt, that the best thing to do is accept that people who deal in the ancient world today, be they philologist, historian or archaeologist, need to be able to teach whatever courses departments need in order for departments to survive and expand. I don't like teaching Egypt an the Near East. I don't like teaching Late Antiquity. I'd rather be teaching language classes. But it is what my department needs and so I do it because I can if needed. Maybe we've all become a bit too over-specialized to or own detriment.

Servius,
I'm an Archaeologist myself and I thought the password clue was a simple and elegant fix. I have a hard time taking these complaints from my fellow diggers seriously. You all are applying for jobs cross-listed in the APA and your Latin isn't up to cracking this little chestnut?! We are in deeper shit than I thought possible.
--Dig Dug

As the person who brought up the language issue, I'm migrating this thread over to the new space. Return to the main page and click on Professional Developments to continue the discussion.

Hoss said...

Um, yeah, I'm not sure if this is relevant here, but my post in the other forum had nothing to do with the password. I could figure that out (and I'm a Hellenist). My post was, instead, about being expected to do things that people in other parts of the field aren't (generally -- I know, there are exceptions) asked to do, and wouldn't be asked to do because of an operational bias in the system. Yes, philologists are asked to teach "MC" classes, but it is so rare compared to the other way around... and part of this is connected to the fact that classical archaeology has no good home in US academia (our own, or our "ancestors'" fault). We could be in classics depts, art depts, history depts, foreign languages depts, anthro depts -- and be asked to teach completely different "basic" stuff in each one of those. And in none of those programs would classical archaeology be particularly respected or considered worthwhile. That was my point. Also, there are hardly any jobs. :)

Anonymous said...

My point in bringing up the language/material culture thing was NOT to start a philologists vs. archaeologists war. I think there are two important issues. The first is whether we as classicists want to be able to speak to each other by sharing common knowledge about ancient language and literature, art, material culture, history, etc. If we do, then maybe we can keep Classics departments around. If we don't, then that means we are happy splitting up into anthropology, art, history, comp. lit, and language departments. I'm all for interdisciplinarity -- in fact I think it is essential if we are going to survive -- but I for one would be sad to see the end of Classics departments. So we need to have enough common ground that we can understand each other.

The even more important point is about graduate training. For every archaeologist out there who works hard to master an ancient language, there is one who is being told that archaeologists don't need to worry about that because they have their own set of specialized skills. This is true -- archaeologists do have their own set of specialized skills that philologists don't have -- and that includes philologists who can teach an intro archaeology course but wouldn't know what do to with a database and a stats package or a plumb bob and a line level. My point was that I am concerned that those archaeologists who are being told not to worry about the languages are being done a disservice by their advisers, since most of the arch/material culture jobs this year are requiring proficiency in at least one language. And yes, we all know there is only so much time in graduate school to master different skills.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for moving the thread. I am an mc person and didn't find the password impenetrable, and I'm not sure that the password sparked the debate. I couldn’t agree more with what Hoss said, and I think Hoss’s last point—that there are hardly any jobs earmarked for mc—makes this discussion very important.

I am intrigued by the earlier posts, how quickly they exposed familiar complaints, lines in the sand, and, admittedly, some hostility and defensiveness. I think that an interdisciplinary field like Classics demands some compromise all around (if it is to survive, as Anon. 12:26 points out). And yet, I can't help but agree with the comment that extensive language teaching can be "an inappropriate use of the skills of a trained archaeologist or art historian". I don't think anyone minds contributing to the department to teach the important, fundamental courses (introductory Greek and Latin come to mind), but we need to remember just how expansive the field of Classics has become. Should Greek Bronze Age archaeologists teach Catullus to majors?

I must disagree, by the way, with the claim that R1 universities don’t want their archaeologists to teach language because, believe me, some do.

Hoss said...

No flame war intended here, either, and "Hear, hear!" for classics depts that really (can and) do allow each to bring out the best of their specialty in their classes.

I took grad-level Greek seminars (not Latin, I must admit) in both my MA and PhD classes, as my advisors advised me. But I wouldn't claim to be able to teach Greek the way it ought to be taught. Actually, experience has shown me I can't do that. But all these ads asking for jacks (and jills)-of-all-trades are ridiculous. They're trying to get something for nothing -- one more language teacher while saying, "Yup, we've got an archaeologist, too." And we have so much more to offer, like plumb bobs. And transits, which are the coolest things ever (yes, more than total stations).

Anonymous said...

re: including language teaching requirements in the job descriptions for MC jobs in Classics departments. Often these are new positions asked for and approved by the dean as a way of expanding the scope of a traditional (phil./hist.) Classics department. But given the existing course requirements/teaching loads/major-minor-graduate mentoring etc., the ideal MC candidate will obviously be a bridge-layer. Complaining about it is kind of silly, given that the likeliest alternative is fewer MC jobs. On the other hand, it is equally silly for these SCs to gripe (as they certainly do) about the shallow candidate pool.

Servius said...

"Thanks for moving the thread. I am an mc person and didn't find the password impenetrable, and I'm not sure that the password sparked the debate."

True enough. The debate started in response to a market question. I was responding to this:

"3) the need for a password, especially one that discriminates against so many job-seekers whose training did not prepare them to figure out the clue that is provided, is much more of a pain in the rear than occasionally restoring the wiki;"

and to more than a couple emails expressing displeasure at having to deal with Latin in order to get the key to the kingdom.

Anyway, making a new post to open this space up took me all of two minutes, and hopefully having this place to discuss these issues will be useful.

hamilcar barca said...

I just want to point out that as a philologist who has ha to teach not only Classical archaeology but also history of the NEear East and Egypt, that the best thing to do is accept that people who deal in the ancient world today, be they philologist, historian or archaeologist, need to be able to teach whatever courses departments need in order for departments to survive and expand. I don't like teaching Egypt an the Near East. I don't like teaching Late Antiquity. I'd rather be teaching language classes. But it is what my department needs and so I do it because I can if needed. Maybe we've all become a bit too over-specialized to or own detriment.

For you philologists who need to teach archaeology, I have a suggestion for your department - hire an archaeologist! This is why the "we all need to teach everything so get over it" argument is laughable. Philologisgts teach MC b/c there is no archaeologisst around. Do archaeologists teach Greek and Latin b/c there is no one else better at it around - LOL! And in my experience, there are 10 archaeologists teaching Greek and Latin for every 1 philologists teaching MC. Does this have to do with enrollment? NO, MC classes are usually the most popular in a university. As I said before, it has more to do with the outdated "mission" of a classic classics program.

And no, the password didn't start this thread, which all the clarchs seemed to have figured out. It was the question by anon 5:16

I think this site is full of lurkers/folks put off by the vandalism and not bothering to update the wiki counter.

That being said, what is the deal with the material culture jobs? Why have so few scs made decisions? I am consumed by feelings of doom (rejections, failed searches, inside candidates, etc.).

Anonymous said...

I think this split is already happening in newer/smaller schools without a longstanding classics tradition (and even in some with it). Historian positions seem to be increasingly housed in History departments, not Classics.

I'm an Aegean Prehistorian myself, and I would say less than a third of the grad students and pros in the field are currently in a classics department. IMHO, this is partially due to the fact that prehistorians have been pioneering much of the multivariate approach in the Aegean that the discipline demands (and classics has traditionally ignored) - surface survey, GIS, palaeobotany, faunal analysis, etc. I would guess that Anthropology will be the future home of most Aegean prehistorians, if this is not already the case. Twenty years ago, I though Art History might be the predominant home department, but I realize now that these prehistorians have the same fundamental problem that we do in classics programs (i.e. being a sub-sub-discipline unlike in anthro where you are just stamped as someone who studies Southeast Europe or West Asia).

Hoss said...

Anon 8:43 is right: credit-hour generation -- what university administrators really care about -- is another important point. While anyone might teach myth, archaeology and history classes are always going to be significantly larger than language classes, and so archaeologists and historians are the ones who pay disproportionately for their departments to stay alive.

By way of analogy: I'm in an art department, and my 4-5 art history colleagues (we're in a bit of flux at the mo) and I teach so many students that we not only carry our 20-25 studio art friends within the department, we also carry the entire college, including architecture, landscape, etc, which all necessarily teach all their classes as studios under 20 students. We in AH are the only ones in our college who can use the 1000-seat auditorium on campus, but we are also a tiny minority on the faculty and get treated as such.

Anonymous said...

I really love when people say "Oh, if Classicists don't want to teach MC, hire an archaeologist" or "If archaeologists don't want to teach languages, they should go to an anth or history department." the truth is, the departments at smaller programs (and even larger ones) have so little control over how the job ads get written that we can't simply go out and hire what the department needs. We hire what the Dean's tell us we are allowed to hire. If the department needs the languages covered because of student demand and needs the history course taught because of student demand and needs literature taught because of student demand, when the Dean says "You should hire and archaeologist" even when we don't even offer classical archaeology classes at this stage, it is really hard for the department to just go out and find an archaeologist who can't teach languages and screw the rest of the department members who are already teaching overloads just to meet minimum course requirements for majors, minors and such. Administrations don't let departments just go out and hire what they actually need so it makes no sense for people to complain about it. As someone who teaches languages, literature and holds an appointment in history and teaches ancient history, I don't see anything wrong with being as well-rounded as I can be. Maybe one of the problems is that Classical archaeology has been ceded to anth programs in too many places. Classics should look to reclaim Classical Archaeology and start ensuring that people are trained as we need them to be trained to succeed as departments.

hamilcar barca said...

If Greek/Latin classes are overloaded, that usually means that the entire university is overloaded across the board. Times are a changing - premeds aren't even taking Latin anymore. Getting another philologist over a historian/archaeologist is RARELY a supply and demand issue, it's an idealogical issue whose time has passed.

"Reclaim" classical archaeology - that's rich. Why don't we withdraw the emancipation proclamation while we're at it. As someone mentioned, the time has passed for clarchs to be "philologists who just happen to get dirty during the summers." As most classics departments stand, they are in no position to foster a clarch program without changing this mentality. This is why "Biblical Archaeology" is dead. All archaeological research driven primarily by a textual discipline is passe - stop looking for Thucydides and the Ark. Ever wonder why Biblical and Classical archaeologists have such a difficult time snagging NSF and NEH grants while most anthropologists with a pulse can get one?

Hoss said...

I guess my larger point was that archaeologists have a strong argument to make to universities and their administrators, as well as classics depts, that we should be hired to do the things we're good at and trained to do, rather than things we're not. Our course enrollments alone should put the problem to rest. In fact, hiring archaeologists should, in a perfect world, make funding lines for more philologists easier, since 1 archaeologist's classes = several philologists' classes. My question is, how best to make that argument?

As for searches, in my experience on the SC side of things, departments ask for new or continued faculty lines; departments decide what they want to hire for; departments (or just the SC, or just the SC chair) decide how to write the ad. These things all require approval, but they don't usually start with the dean, they start down below.

Finally, in response to Anon 9:46 (why won't people pick dumb names like I did???): anthro depts want nothing to do with classical archaeologists (except the rare prehistorian), since they're sure our methodologies are too antiquated to be of any use to their students. And they're pretty much right.

Anonymous said...

Chiming in on the historian side of things, our big frustration is that so many history depts, dominated by Americanists, seem to assume that "an ancient historian" is an expert in about 3000 years of history and thousands of miles of territory, and should also be well-versed in the early history of Asia, the Americas, and Africa.

Meanwhile, places where history is based in the classics department often teach "civilization" courses rather than "history" courses and often assume that anyone can understand ancient history simply by reading Thucydides, Suetonius, and Tacitus.

I don't mind teaching the languages, but I would like some respect for what is an individual discipline in its own right - much like the archaeologists. The archaeology/material culture divide is also an interesting line; I'm quite comfortable teaching MC courses, but have never been on a dig.

(This is partially due to familial circumstances rather than desire, something which I wonder if it's been addressed well in the archaeology world - most excavations don't seem friendly to people who have family obligations.)

superanonymous said...

I think this is a really interesting and worthwhile debate!

Unfortunately, I don't really have anything fruitful to add to it at the moment, but it does seem like a prime place for me to complain about one of the ridiculous things I was asked in an interview last year. The job was in Roman material culture. The *first* question they asked me was "What authors could you teach for an advanced Greek course?"

I regret that I did not give the appropriate response. Which in my opinion is "You need someone to teach advanced Greek because all the Greek poetry specialists are busy teaching archaeology of the Roman provinces?"

I think it's totally appropriate to expect archaeologists to teach beginning languages or general civ courses. It's even good for us! But advanced Greek for a Roman archaeologist?

Ben Cartwright said...

Wayne State University

I'm completely new to this site, but one post has really shocked me. Is the news of the death of the Wayne State Classics Department perhaps greatly exaggerated?

I know this is just a crazy-ass-rumor board, but this seems like a heavy-duty chunk of gossip to throw out, unattributed.

I do think that it is important for everybody in the profession to be aware of issues such as tenure-stream losses and departmental closings. But how can we educate ourselves and each other about these sorts of pressures, without having to resort to potentially destructive gossip? Perhaps this is the best forum, I just don't know, but these sorts of statements make me nervous.

Does the APA disseminate information like this? Should it?

Anonymous said...

Re: Wayne State

No, I heard this too from someone at U of M.

backtofront said...

Hoss has convinced me to create a stupid name (my question sparked the debate to some extent, as Hamilcar Barca pointed out).

I have two questions: I am a Clarch and have had an identical experience to Superanonymous' in which I was asked to teach advanced poetry in my non-specialty language. I had hoped the SC was just sussing out my willingness to be a team player, but in retrospect I'm not so sure (since discussing my plans for language courses took up at least half of the interview). Sure, I could teach it, but what's the point of hiring me if your goal is to hire someone to cover classes to which I bring only skill (sometimes quite rusty) and little-no insight? I did not get that job.

Second: Hamilcar Barca has said many wise things. But what, exactly, is the call to action? I'm wondering if we don't need to rethink Classics in general. If, as some suggest, all members of some Classics departments are scrambling to cover major courses and can't teach in their areas of specialization, would it be daft to suggest that part of the problem lies with outdated major requirements?

Thanks,

btf

theophilus van damme said...

"it does seem like a prime place for me to complain about one of the ridiculous things I was asked in an interview last year. The job was in Roman material culture. The *first* question they asked me was 'What authors could you teach for an advanced Greek course?'"

This doesn't happen to be the search that failed by any chance? If so, perhaps its failure is as much an indictment of the SC as it is of the applicants?

hamilcar barca said...

But what, exactly, is the call to action?

It's obvious that the curriculum and mission of most classics departments are artificially upheld by those holding the keys, so to speak. My opinion is let them die if they don't adapt.

For those who claim, "we are all in the same boat," why don't we test this theory. Clarchs are expected to teach upper-level language courses in their speciality field and have competance in the other. They won't be considered for positions otherwise. Let's turn the tables and make a requirement that all philologists must have at least one summer session, if not a year, at one of the foreign archaeological institutions (Academy in Rome, ASCSA, Albright Institute, ACOR, ARIT, etc.) if they are to be considered for a job. Sound fair? Probably not, I guess. It's surprising how many philologists have never been to the Mediterranean, let alone see any need to do so.

Septimum said...

I think that two of the interesting questions here, regarding the issue of outdated major requirements, are

a. What skills and knowledge do we want classics majors to have?

b. What do we want to offer to non-majors who are interested in taking a course or two in the ancient world, broadly speaking?

Admitting my bias as an interdisciplinary historian/Latin lit specialist, these would be my answers:

a.
1. The ability to read both prose and poetry in at least one ancient language. Using a dictionary or commentary is fine, but a graduate ought to be able to get the gist of any reasonable text fairly quickly. (By "unreasonable," I mean, for instance, that Sappho is pretty difficult without a commentary.)

2. A broad understanding of ancient Mediterranean culture and history, including material culture.

3. Advanced work in at least one area of the ancient world - whether Latin poetry or Bronze Age art.

So, for me, a. would require professors who are well trained in language teaching and literary analysis, as well as professors with a strong knowledge of history and (possibly other professors) who can teach material culture. It would not, for instance, require the ability to compose stories in Latin or Greek, or detailed syntactical knowledge from all students, or first-hand archaeological experience, though all these things could be very useful and educational.

B. I want non-majors to get an appreciation, first and foremost, for ancient Greek and Roman culture and how it has shaped their own world. Languages can do this, but only if they stick with them until they get to the interesting bits. History survey courses can do this if well taught, but can easily become regurgitations of facts that pass away a week after finals. Material culture courses and archaeology courses have the same problem, but do offer the innate attraction of "discovery" and of visual evidence.

So really, I want professors who can draw students in and relate what they teach to other areas of study and life relevant to non-majors. I don't think classics departments can survive by just preaching to the choir.

Thoughts? I recognize I'm coming at this from a very specific perspective, of course.

Anonymous said...

I want to back up Anonymous 10:34 on historians. I would say they have much the same problems as archaeologists, perhaps less because they do usually need to know a language. But compounding the problem is that there is no strong tradition of ancient historians - especially Greek - in the US, compared to, say, the UK or Germany. That in part is why "history" courses are really "history lite" or "civ." I am fortunate enough to teach in a dept where that is not the case, but getting this dept to that point took my senior historian colleagues years of politicking.

But the other thing is, when a search committee wants an ancient historian, they seem to want a SOCIAL historian, who works on something like "Thessalian identity in the 5C BC." This year is a good market for historians; last year was a GREAT market, but almost every job ended up going to someone who did not do actual _history_, i. e., working on factual accounts and expanding our knowledge of and offering new interpretations of major and minor historical events in antiquity. Another reason, I think, that so many depts think of history courses as history lite/civ.

(This is not to say social history isn't important. It is. But it's really a different kind of field and approach altogether.)

Anonymous said...

Ahem, that said, what IS the deal with material culture searches this year? Going down the list, only UNC and McMaster have notified candidates of interviews?

Anonymous said...

The seal has been broken: U. Washington is sending out interview requests.

Anonymous said...

The seal has been broken: U. Washington is sending out interview requests.

How? Carrier pigeon? Smoke signals? Snail mail? Email?

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Smoke signals might be more fitting, but email is the way.

The Other Finalist said...

How to break the U-Dub Seal:

You have to shave the head of the Fed-Ex guy delivering the APA invite in order to translate the secret Latin message tattooed on his scalp. Having done so, inscribe your acceptance of said invitation onto the beak of a black rooster. You must do so in Aeolic Greek, using one Major Asclepiadean verse. Hand your well-versed, inscribed rooster to the Fed-Ex guy and have it sent via Overnight delivery to:

Alain Gowing, Chair, Department of Classics, University of Washington, Box 353110, Seattle, WA 98195-3110.

Another option is to "perform" your acceptance as a short film done in the genre of "The 300", in order to demonstrate your ability to connect with today's undergraduates, as I have done here:

Please, U.W., may I have another?

Don't plagiarize me, and good luck!

Anonymous said...

???

Anonymous said...

Okee Dokee.

The Other Finalist has officially lost it.

So sad.

superanonymous said...

"it does seem like a prime place for me to complain about one of the ridiculous things I was asked in an interview last year. The job was in Roman material culture. The *first* question they asked me was 'What authors could you teach for an advanced Greek course?'"

This doesn't happen to be the search that failed by any chance? If so, perhaps its failure is as much an indictment of the SC as it is of the applicants?


No, this was one of the searches where I would say the person they hired isn't really an archaeologist, despite the job description.

backtofront said...

Superanonymous:

In the interest of some things said already here, would it be possible for you to describe the school (top-tier research, mid-level liberal arts) and/or the department size without outing yourself? I wonder how your experience could be justified by/reconciled with the kinds of ideas raised by Septimum et al.

Eratosthenes said...

No, this was one of the searches where I would say the person they hired isn't really an archaeologist, despite the job description.

I'd venture to guess that it's a fairly reputable R1 or an elite Liberal Arts college that's the culprit. One needs to give the appearance of espousing cultural studies in order to be relevant at these top-notch institutions. It happens more often than we're willing to admit. The spectrum is so skewed over to the philological side that one year as a regular member at ASCSA is considered qualified for an archaeology position.

This lip service to archaeology and history is what will do these language-based departments in. The Assyriology example used before is prescient. Once non-language specialists move over to history, art history, and anthropology, it won't be long before the bean-counters ask, "Why isn't Greek and Latin in the Foreign Languages Department?"

Theophilus Van Damme said...

"Why isn't Greek and Latin in the Foreign Languages Department?"

Already happening - look at the proliferation of "Classics and Spanish" and "Classical and Near Eastern Languages" departments out there.

superanonymous said...

In the interest of some things said already here, would it be possible for you to describe the school (top-tier research, mid-level liberal arts) and/or the department size without outing yourself?

I'm afraid I'd rather remain superanonymous on that, but eratosthenes is on the right track.

The thing I didn't get about it is, don't the philolgists *want* to teach advanced Greek? Or is there really such a pressing demand for advanced Greek courses that they need more variety in them?

To me, frankly, it makes no sense. I imagine that there are those philologists who like teaching first-year courses, but I always sort of assumed that for many those are a sort of service course (you do it because you have to), and if the department could get the adjuncts and archaeologists to teach them, it would free up the philologists for things like... advanced Greek.

I find the observation that this trend in hiring etc. is going to kill Classics department interesting. But also sad.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I don't understand the anger about having to teach Advanced Greek. Any advanced language course is a plum assignment. You have a small number of students, you make them translate the text, correct their errors, and quiz them on grammar. It's a sweet deal....

superanonymous said...

What bothers me is simply that, as a Roman archaeologist, teaching advanced Greek is not what I was trained to do, and for a search committee to expect a new hire who is supposed to be a Roman archaeologist to teach advanced Greek from the get-go is a bit out of bounds. At any rate, it wasn't my intention to moan on and on about this, but questions were asked, and I responded.

Although point taken about the workload. Language classes do require a good bit less prep than a lecture course.

Anonymous said...

"I have to say I don't understand the anger about having to teach Advanced Greek. Any advanced language course is a plum assignment. You have a small number of students, you make them translate the text, correct their errors, and quiz them on grammar. It's a sweet deal...."

Exhibit A why extinction is inevitable - the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Superanon it's more an immutalbe property than a trend. So "what's there to change?" I see more departments willing to "go down with the ship" than not. It's why universities are downsizing classics left and right.

Hoss said...

Anonymous 6:24 (!!! Come on, people, get with the dumb names! It's not that hard! You're all an undifferentiated mass of anonymity out there right now.) wrote, It's why universities are downsizing classics left and right.

I've heard this anecdotally for forever. But what are the numbers? Actually, I know there are no numbers, but I wonder if we could compile a list of actual recent department-folding (into other departments or out of existence)? And keep it to events that have really truly already happened, as opposed to rumors such as those concerning poor Wayne State. It would be a good way to get a sense for the health of the field.

I'd start the list, but I don't know of any real examples.

Anonymous said...

I don't know of any foldings firsthand. In fact, my current department keeps growing. We can't keep up with student demand. Classics is alive and well in many places.

Commander Adama said...

There, Hoss! I stand unmasked! I hope you appreciate the link between my identity and yours, too, darn it.

While we catalogue the foldings, we should also catalogue the departments who are growing. It might settle this dispute once and for all. My sense is that the profession as a whole is much healthier than it has been for years. Latin enrollments are going up, and history, civ, and archaeology courses are doing quite well. I think Greek is suffering, but so are many other languages, like German, French, and Russian.

Anonymous said...

I am always disturbed by the common assumption that teaching advanced language courses is sooo little work compared to a lecture course. Having taught both, I feel that the type of work is rather different, but not the amount. Though to me an advanced class is not one where you just sit and translate and then quiz the students on grammar; it's rather a literature/historiography/philosophy class where the reading is done in the original language.
Plus, while it is the ideal that we are all always updating/revising/improving our lecture courses, for many people a lecture course is a lot of work the first time around and next to none in subsequent runs.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I ripped myself away from weighing all my interview invites to do some research.

Not dead but definitely downsized: http://www.clas.wayne.edu/languages

For kicks, I did search with "department," "spanish," and "classics" as the fields in Google, as it seemed like a weird combination, and a surprising number of combined language programs came up, though when this happened is anyone's guess.

Anonymous said...

There's a Department of Spanish and Classics at UC Davis, though there is a separate "Classics Program" website. Is this more of an administrative phenomenon but in practice two autonomous programs? Who's present at faculty meetings and involved during tenure review? Sounds almost like a split appointment by default.

Joey Joe Joe Jr. Shabadoo said...

At LSU, Classics is in Foreign Languages and Literatures (which has all the languages except French, for reasons that are probably apparent), but I don't know how long that's been the case.

superanonymous said...

I am always disturbed by the common assumption that teaching advanced language courses is sooo little work compared to a lecture course. Having taught both, I feel that the type of work is rather different, but not the amount. Though to me an advanced class is not one where you just sit and translate and then quiz the students on grammar; it's rather a literature/historiography/philosophy class where the reading is done in the original language.
Plus, while it is the ideal that we are all always updating/revising/improving our lecture courses, for many people a lecture course is a lot of work the first time around and next to none in subsequent runs.


Actually, I agree with your assessment, particularly about what an advanced language class should be; this is also why I think archaeologists shouldn't be teaching advanced courses in their minor language if they don't want to. An advanced language course shouldn't be just translation and grammar.

I can't say as much about the difference in prep time between language and lecture courses over the long term because I haven't yet been around the block enough times, but I still suspect that over the life of a single course (i.e., multiple iterations of the same course), it takes less time to prepare a good language class than a good lecture class, especially because more of the burden is on the students in a language class (as it should be).

Anonymous said...

Doing some inteview research, eh?In this vein, what's with George Washington going from Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures to Classical and Semitic Languages and Literatures. Semitic is hardly more PC than Near Eastern.

Anonymous said...

In this vein, what's with George Washington going from Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures to Classical and Semitic Languages and Literatures. Semitic is hardly more PC than Near Eastern.

Does it matter? It looks like the classics program is on life support there. Two VAPs, one emeritus, one full professor who doesn't look far off from retirement, and a chair whose job was put on the line last year in a bizarro vote-of-confidence search where the administration decided "on second thought, he isn't too bad."

theophilus van damme said...

Well, as the demise of WSU classics does not seem exaggerated, that leaves two autonomous departments in public universities here in the great state of Michigan. Thankfully, I'm at a private SLAC whose department is what I would call stable.

backtofront said...

Semitic is hardly more PC than Near Eastern.

I don’t find either term P.C. or un-P.C. "Semitic" is, however, much more specific than “Near Eastern”, assuming that's what they intended.

Hoss said...

And GW is hiring for a "material culture" type! Well, one who meets the following criteria:

"Teaching responsibilities: courses in classical archaeology, Greek, Latin, history, and civilizations of the classical world. Preference will be given to a classical archaeologist who can teach Greek and/or Latin at all levels."

Then again, if they're as bad off as Anon 7:45 (dammit!) says, it looks like they need one person who can and will do everything.

Oh, and personal to Commander Adama (and Ben Cartwright): not that you could know, but my name has nothing to do with "Bonanza," which I've never seen. It just comes from a stupid story that happened to me. I did, however, have to search to figure out what the hell Adama was all about. Battlestar Galactica? Really? :) That's more obscure than the password to the wiki.

digdug said...

The preference for a clarch is the strangest part of all as the chair is an established archaeologist. BUT, the number of hoops they are asking applicants to jump through is a close second...by far the most I've seen from all humanities job postings this year, if not ever.

Happy GWU Faculty Member said...

I teach at the supposedly dying GWU program and thought I'd give out some info to help you all along:

1) The Chair was given a vote of confidence not a vote of no confidence -- he was contract faculty, now he is a tenured Associate professor as a result of winning the TT job here

2) We have always been Classics and Semitics, never Classical and Near Eastern -- there was no name change--though there may be if we add Pharsi which is not Semitic (we currently teach Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Arabic). We are thinking about "Classics and Mediterranean" perhaps...

3) We are expanding, not contracting -- we've grown from 10 archaeology majors total to 10 per year (40 total at the moment) and have doubled the number of our Classics majors to 20 in the last 2 years plus tripled the number of people taking Greek in the past three years alone (we currently have more than 25 students in beginning and intermediate). Classics and archaeology are thriving here, not dying!

4) we are looking to replace the Emeritus philology professor, but the Dean wants to help grow the archaeology program at the same time, so she asked us to hire an archaeologist who can also do languages. We realize this is a tall order but will do the best we can.

5. The two VAP faculty members are currently being considered for permanent contract positions which is separate from the TT search. This would give the department 5 full-time permanent classics/archaeology faculty. Hardly on life support.

6) This is what happens in a small department -- everyone pitches in to help out. We all teach a broad range of classes in order to allow the program to continue to grow.

We, the current faculty at GWU, like our department and are really hoping to bring in someone new who can contribute and help us grow even more and who isn't afraid to stretch themselves since everyone else is already doing it. It is fairly obvious that a number of the posters here would probably not be a good fit but we do hope to find someone who can fulfill at least 80-90% of the job ad.

Hoss said...

I was going to offer the fact that GW is offering $70-80K to start as a reason to go there (according to the Chronicle ad). A whole lotta money for an assistant, it seems to me. It's, ohhhhhhh...about 150-180% of what I'm making in my little TT job at crap-ass Southern State (pseudo-R1).

But then I remembered: I don't have to teach languages or history or anything else except MC classes (including the first half of the western art survey). You win some, you lose some.

My advice: hold out for CAA, MC-types!

Martha Stewart said...

Hoss, I'm not sure where you are domestically, but add the fact that you can almost certainly purchase a bona fide house within 50 miles of school. I don't think even $80k will get you very far in the Beltway - in terms of a house that is. In regards to a commute, I'm sure it will get you very far indeed - like Richmond.

Anonymous said...

70-80k for DC is better than the 56k the UC system offers for Assistants in places like SD, LA, SB and Berekley.

bigger thomas said...

Man, but I'll be darned if the honest job description by the GW faculty member didn't scare me more than reassure (and I teach 3/3 right now).

GWU '03 said...

Heck, they better pay $70k as that's not too far off from what a student pays to go there every year.

Commander Adama said...

Hoss said:
Oh, and personal to Commander Adama (and Ben Cartwright): not that you could know, but my name has nothing to do with "Bonanza," which I've never seen.

No Bonanza? Your loss, Hoss. A bit of respect for you gone, but a bit of mystery added. :-)

What is in the water in D.C.? Both GWU and GTown are rocking the enrollments and majors! I interviewed with Gtown a couple of years ago and it sounds like that department is kicking ass and taking names. If GWU is doing similar things, then some of us need to figure out what they are doing and learn from it.

Hoss said...

I live in the kind of place where I can pay $725 a month for rent and have my own tiny little house with garage in a historic neighborhood. And I'm a single guy, so my costs are pretty containable.

But I don't live in a place as cool as Richmond (which is a town I like, a lot), or, certainly, DC. Now, you might not be able to buy a house in DC on 80K, but you could definitely rent comfortably there on that -- something that doesn't seem possible on the UC pay-scale quoted above. 56K -- that is rough in the Bay Area or Santa Barbara. I don't know how anyone can do it, though I've heard tell of 2- and 3-hour commutes to UCSB.

Oh, and Joey Joe Joe, that is the worst name I have ever heard.

Jerry Garcia said...

"56K -- that is rough in the Bay Area or Santa Barbara. I don't know how anyone can do it, though I've heard tell of 2- and 3-hour commutes to UCSB."

Buying is rough on the left coast, but renting is not bad, at least in the bay area. If anything, the buying craze decreased the renter pool. Now the quality of the rental, that's another story.

rene belloq said...

If GWU is doing similar things, then some of us need to figure out what they are doing and learn from it.

Perhaps they've figured out that the archaeology of Pompeii brings in more students than the works of Catullus ever could. *ducking*

I always hated Patrick Ewing said...

Georgetown is very much a philology-centric program. They have the material culture side of things cranking along nicely, but Latin and Greek are strong, and the Post-Bac program is growing. So, yes, Colonel Adama is right. Georgetown (I can't speak about George Washington University) is finding success the old fashioned way.

All this talk about language courses and philology faculty as if they are mere remoras hitched to the sharks of material culture enrollments is factually wrong and misguided. If Clarchs think they are going to find welcoming digs in most Anthropology, History, or Art History programs, they are deluding themselves.

The Old Oligarch said...

Heck, you archaeologists should be as good at languages as us philology/history sorts. After all, every summer you're out in the middle of nowhere digging, and from what I hear there's so much free time beginning in the late afternoon that many of you just drink excessively or sleep around. Try putting some of that energy into studying Greek and Latin!

I always hated Patrick Ewing said...

from what I hear there's so much free time beginning in the late afternoon that many of you just drink excessively or sleep around.

No, no, no. They drink excessively and sleep around. It is quite impressive, really.

This based upon my own summer in the trenches. Glorious!

Hoss said...

The Old Dumbass wrote, from what I hear there's so much free time beginning in the late afternoon that many of you just drink excessively or sleep around. Try putting some of that energy into studying Greek and Latin!

While you're doing exactly what, in your air-conditioned library back home? Finding one more use for that Greek particle? *ahem*

Yeah, there's drinking and assorted other behavior on digs. But that's between

5 AM (occasionally 4 or 4:30) - Wake up
6 AM at latest - On site, digging
12-12:30 PM -- Lunch, followed by more digging, now in ungodly heat
3 PM -- Back to the house/museum/whatever for pottery washing
4-4:30 PM -- Official workday ends for diggers; everyone except staff retires for naps; staff fills out notebooks and forms
6 PM -- Regroup for pre-dinner bibulation
7 or 8 PM -- Dinner with the same huge group of people you don't really know, every night for 6 weeks
10-10:30 -- Too exhausted to continue; succumb to nightmares of roasting in the sun, trench walls collapsing, scorpions appearing from under hastily removed rocks, etc.

What is it, again, that you do all summer, Old Dumbass? One last time: we are not philologists who go play in a sandbox all summer. Have a little respect, and I'll return the favor.

The Old Oligarch said...

Hoss,
First, you've obviously been on the wrong digs.

Second, I hope you never are called on to teach a course on ancient comedy, because I'm not sure you would recognize the difference between Aristophanes and Aeschylus.

Hoss said...

And none of that takes into account the need for staff, especially professors, to be functional in Italian/Greek/Turkish/Arabic/French/Spanish/Portuguese/Albanian/whatever the local language or even dialect is. And to be able to navigate local bureaucracies or engage local scholars and communities in one's work (the latter increasingly important now that cultural heritage issues are being taken more seriously), and hire workmen, etc. And budgets that run into tens of thousands of dollars yet must be run as on a shoestring. You should see the conditions archaeologists live in. And fundraising for those budgets. And dealing with whiny students and volunteers. A dig staff member's day, in other words, never ends, and when, again, do you want us to brush up on our languages, and oh, by the way, get those articles out for publication?

You hit a nerve there, Old Dumbass. *argh*

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm...

"assorted other behavior" or "revise article".... "assorted other behavior" or "revise article"?

Thanks, Bob, I'll take door number one.

Hoss said...

Finally, in answer to your response, what do you know about good digs vs. bad digs? Ha.

Aischylos -- wasn't he the old man who got hit on the head with a turtle? Fitting end.

Anonymous said...

Old Oligarch's comment about "drinking excessively OR sleeping around" (can't quite get himself to use that s*x word!) reminds me of that anecdote about overhearing one member of the hotel staff to another at the APA: "Man, what a weird conference...all drinking and no sex."

Wilamowitz said...

Weil das Leben, um dessen Verständis wir ringen, ein Einheit ist, ist unsere Wissenshaft eine Einheit. Die Sonderung der Disziplinen Philologie, Archäologie, Alte Geschichte, Epigraphik, Numismatik, neuerdings auch Papyrologie, hat lediglich in der Beschränktheit des menschlichen Könnens ihre Berechtigung und darf auch in dem Spezialisten das Bewußtsein des Ganzen nicht ersticken.

Anonymous said...

Wilamowitz said...

"Weil das Leben, um dessen Verständis wir ringen, ein Einheit ist, ist unsere Wissenshaft eine Einheit. Die Sonderung der Disziplinen Philologie, Archäologie, Alte Geschichte, Epigraphik, Numismatik, neuerdings auch Papyrologie, hat lediglich in der Beschränktheit des menschlichen Könnens ihre Berechtigung und darf auch in dem Spezialisten das Bewußtsein des Ganzen nicht ersticken."

Genau!

Anonymous said...

Wilamowitz made a lot of sense...uh, about a century ago, you know, when only cannonical texts mattered, only a fraction of the half a million inscriptions were discovered and collected, a hundred thousand papyri where still wrapped around mummies, and there was no such thing as stratigraphy, let alone a scientific excavation.

But, hey, you did pass your German qualifying exam!

poldy said...

Anonymous said... "Wilamowitz made a lot of sense...uh, about a century ago," etc. I believe that you missed the point of the quotation. Divisions among our specialties are a necessary consequence of human limitations (even in Wilamamwitz's era). If our research or training cannot hope to be so comprehensive as to comprehend the whole, should we thus rest complacent and pass that complacence and disciplinary jingoism on to our students? Do we want our students to see the study of antiquity as fractured mass of conflicting approaches who refuse to talk or work together?

But, hey, you did pass your German qualifying exam! Don't be an ass, if you can help it.

eratosthenes said...

Some of these latter posts are a perfect example of the antiquated paradigm that will end Classics. G-town has a strong classics program because of its strong tradition as a top Catholic school - same with ND. With these attitudes about archaeologists, how long with classics last in big U state school without an age-old tradition to draw upon? And Clarchs are finally getting a clue and taking a fair load of *GASP* anthro courses while in school. Look around, you often find at least one Clarch in a large state U anthro program now. This trend will only increase as Clarch become better equipped with teh latest anthropological theories. We're talking about programs that matriculate upwards of 20 Ph.D. students a year and with budgets that dwarf classics programs. Have fun commisserating with your German and Italian language colleagues in the future.

The Old Oligarch said...

Hoss,
I'll be brief because my guess is that no one cares about this exchange. So, getting to the point: my comment about you, Aristophanes and Aeschylus was a rather erudite way of saying that I don't believe you're capable of picking up on a joke, based on the way you took so seriously and overreacted to my humorous comment about the activities that most certainly do go on at some digs. The way that our colleague with the rather odd nickname concerning Patrick Ewing picked up on and added to my joke essentially proves my joke was not without some basis in truth, and that my attempt at comic relief was no in vain. I need justify myself no further.

Overall, you give the impression of someone who was frequently beaten up in elementary school by philologists and literary theorists, which might explain your seeming regression to an age in which name-calling was typical.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program...

Hoss said...

I'm not even going to bother with the posturing, but I do have to ask, who describes their own jokes as "rather erudite"? Just another sign of arrogance that makes attempts such as yours not particularly funny -- they're too close to what you really think.

The Old Oligarch said...

Sheesh. Hoss, I'm not who you think I am. It so happens that my work routinely involves reading archaeological reports, articles, etc. etc. etc. With the exception of present company, I have no negative thoughts about any particular archaeologists, or archaeology as a field. Heck, some of my best friends are archaeologists...

And now I will no longer respond to any comments on this matter. Really.

Joe Mama said...

And he even thought about visiting Athens once...but he never made it past London. Badumdum cchh!

Library Bound said...

Regarding the Archaeology and Philology Divide.

I don't want to revive the flame wars. Really! I am asking this out of interest and ignorance, and am trying to educate myself about this stuff, so please respond in kind.

I have always assumed that Classical Archaeologists would want to be attached to Classics departments, in preference to Anthropology or Art History departments. But it seems that this is not the case now, if it ever was.

Is it that Archaeologists are facing so many pressures of expertise and specialization brought about partly by improvements in technology that having to deal with the language mastery on top of all this is really too much? If so, what do you MC people think should be done about it? I assume (perhaps wrongly) that we are all interested in studying ancient culture (in a broad sense) and that our various tools (linguistics, archaeology, etc.) are just that. But if simple mastery of these tools makes it more and more difficult for there to be common, professional, overlap, how will this affect our various approaches?

I understand the enrollments issues, but I'd rather focus this conversation on more philosophical grounds without worrying about marketability and such. Let's leave the business matters to the Deans. That is why they get paid so damn much anyway!

Spartacus said...

The main issue is about employment, no? Isn't that why this entire site exists? This "divide" isn't primarily about fitting into some "elementary school" clique as some would have you believe. It's about finding jobs and there's a 'glass ceiling' in most classics departments for the number of archaeologists and historians.

Ask yourself, who truly are the "classicists" using a technical, non-traditional definition? Who would ancient scholars recognize as scholars today? Those who spend a lifetime obsessing over their language and narrow selection of literature, largely absent of context? Thankfully, there are many philogists who routinely conduct broader research and maintain open minds about the discipline, but they are far and few between. Instead, we have little soldiers espousing the same antiquated doctrines taught to them by their forebearers, which naturally minimizes and looks down on historians and clarchs as 2nd class citizens.

How bizarre it is to most anyone outside the field that 10% of a department has to teach all history and material CULTURE spanning thousands of years (to hundreds of students) but 90% of the faculty are "experts" on a couple authors or a genre that was artificially defined as important generations ago by a bunch of wasps.

If anything, clarchs of late could care less about fitting into the old club and are instead fighting to discard the waspy, old-boys-club image that classics represents to most other scholars (and shown in full glory by some posts here). We'll go where the jobs are and they are increasingly in other departments.

rene belloq said...

If Clarchs think they are going to find welcoming digs in most Anthropology, History, or Art History programs, they are deluding themselves.

This is funny because I would say up to half the jobs we ancient historians are getting these days are housed in history departments while the same could probably be said about clarchs in Art History (or architecture). Anthropology is a tougher nut to crack since all that classics has stood for is quite reprehensible to most anthropologists, but this is even changing as the new guard takes over and biases die over there. These are the ones who could hardly care about the post-processual vs. processual battlelines of old. Perhaps our prehistorian brethren can lead the way into that discipline. Overall, we all win if there are more jobs for classicists,' no?

I Refuse to Be Pigeon-holed said...

These are the ones who could hardly care about the post-processual vs. processual battlelines of old.

AHHHHHHHH! Some of my students are taking an ANTH methods class and it as all about this! They are very sad.

That said, I sort of like how my current department works. I am an ancient historian/philologist/epigrapher/hellenist/latinist. I am appointed in Classics and get to teach language classes but then am also appointed in history and teach a couple of classes a year for them since they decided they would not hire a new ancient historian when the last one retired and ceded ancient history to us. It works well though since there are a few of us who do classes for them and we rotate. And I get to teach 'real' history and not 'history-lite' (that's a different class). It lets me do both of the things I enjoy. Of course, I actually enjoy teaching both so its a win win for me though I don't think some people would enjoy it. Maybe if more universities were more flexible with cross-appointments and inter-disciplinary work, it wouldn't be such a problem and wouldn't matter so much which departments employed us--as long as we could provide the necessary classes for a good, well-rounded major. It could be good for everyone.

Anonymous said...

No, we don't all win because Greek and Latin would be relegated to larger language departments as delineated above. This would effectively diminish the impact of classics in the curriculum (not to mention possibly decrease jobs for classical philologists overall).

Anonymous said...

I assume (perhaps wrongly) that we are all interested in studying ancient culture (in a broad sense) and that our various tools (linguistics, archaeology, etc.) are just that. But if simple mastery of these tools makes it more and more difficult for there to be common, professional, overlap, how will this affect our various approaches?


We are theoretically all classical scholars using different tools, but an objective person can see how lopsided things actually are at ground level. Clarchs are generally expected to have archaeology tools and the majority of the skills that a historian and philologist have. They can argue they are the most thoroughly trained. Historians generally fall into the same category with historiography being their main skill set. Many of them are archaeologically trained as well. Now you get to philology, and most have a passing knowledge of archaeology and history, yet command 90% of the jobs out there. That's where your analogy of equals with qualitatively different but quantitatively different tools doesn't stand up.

Anonymous said...

Is there a reason why some people are so bound by the traditional departmental devisions? There are plenty of pretty decent universities that have moved away from traditional departments and do house all languages together in larger "Literature" departments or have "Mediterranean Studies" departments. As long as there is still a Classics major with students who want to take it, does it matter the department is called?

Anonymous said...

"decrease jobs for classical philologists overall"

Ah, now we get to the bottom line.

I for one would support interdisciplinary initiatives, but in my experience, they do not work b/c budgets, voting, tenure, etc. are all done departmentally and these interdisciplinary initiatives rarely have departmental status nor any teeth.

Library Bound said...

We are theoretically all classical scholars using different tools, but an objective person can see how lopsided things actually are at ground level. Clarchs are generally expected to have archaeology tools and the majority of the skills that a historian and philologist have. They can argue they are the most thoroughly trained. Historians generally fall into the same category with historiography being their main skill set. Many of them are archaeologically trained as well. Now you get to philology, and most have a passing knowledge of archaeology and history, yet command 90% of the jobs out there. That's where your analogy of equals with qualitatively different but quantitatively different tools doesn't stand up.

Couldn't a philologist make the argument (and please note that I am not necessarily making the argument here, but merely throwing it out as a possible example) that their own skill-set must also include a detailed knowledge of modern approaches and literary-theory? Thus, maybe it appears that Philologists don't carry as many different arrows in their quiver as their Clarch or Historian brethren. But that appearance is largely an illusion. Just because philological tools happen to be housed in the same place, the library, and fall under the rubric of "literature", doesn't mean that they are not actually diverse in the same way that Historiographical and Archaeological tools are with respect to those two fields.

I'm not sure that I am making myself clear, sorry. I hope you understand what I am driving at. Thanks for your patience.

And then of course we are conveniently forgetting the most forgotten: Ancient Philosophers. If Clarchs think they have it bad, they should try walking a mile in their moccasins! :-)

Anonymous said...

I understand philologists need to know literary theory, source criticism, etc., but that's par for the course compared to clarchs and historians. But why does a department need 5 hellenists and 5 latinists to one clarch and two historians?

Depth and breadth is a weak argument at best b/c clarchs/historians could easily match this today. Student demand is the weakest argument and philologists should be ashamed to even use it as it's plainly obvious what students would take today if given the chance. Notice that no one is reading Aristophanes on the History Channel. The old fallback then is the partyline that classics shouldn't pander to mass consumerism and should instead hold to objective standards that is the true core of a proper education, not this glorified digging and storytelling. What objective standards, pray tell, are these? Those arbitrarily delineated by WASPs over 100 years ago?

No offense to philosophers, but they don't suffer the indignity of teaching the vast majority of university students who come into contact with classics yet have so little representation and authority within the discipline as a whole.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit confused about some of the terminology being used here. I'm a historian but I also consider myself a Hellenist since I do Greek history and I also consider myself a philologist since I use philology as an important tool for analysis. I also work with literary texts frequently in addition to material remains. Can one not be a historian and a Hellenist/philologist? Or have people decided this is impossible?

Library Bound said...

I understand philologists need to know literary theory, source criticism, etc., but that's par for the course compared to clarchs and historians. But why does a department need 5 hellenists and 5 latinists to one clarch and two historians?

OK. Then let's assume that the question of who is more "thoroughly trained" is not dispositive to the matter at hand. Is that fair?

No offense to philosophers, but they don't suffer the indignity of teaching the vast majority of university students who come into contact with classics yet have so little representation and authority within the discipline as a whole.

OK. Clarchs and Historians, at least in your eyes (and probably many others) are the mules of the profession. They teach the largest classes, they tend to attract potential majors at a greater clip, and are in general the ones responsible for introducing the field to the largest number of undergraduates. As your History Channel reference suggests, they are also the ones doing the greatest amount of public education. I think few people would dispute this. Some of the philologists teaching the large myth lecture classes can climb on part of this wagon as well, but I think your characterization is quite fair.

Given these claims, what do you imagine would be the ideal distribution of faculty lines for a Classics department of 10? Feel free to define what sort of mission and institution said department would exist within. Or, if you think everyone would be better served by a divorce, explain why.

Hoss said...

Anon 7:09 *sigh* wrote, But why does a department need 5 hellenists and 5 latinists to one clarch and two historians?

There are two parts to this. One is the nature of the classes. The other is the power structures.

As I wrote some time ago, it makes sense to have more philologists than archaeologists (can't bring myself to use "clarchs") or historians, because, really, we can't expect language courses to enroll 50-100 students and imagine that the students will be served. Cf. my analogy to the studio art (and architecture, etc.) faculty in my college. They simply can't have more than 20 students in their studios, and we shouldn't expect them to. So they need more faculty to staff their necessary classes. I'm OK with that.

On the other hand, the large number of philology faculty gives them undeserved weight in departmental politics and in the field as a whole.

So...what's the solution -- lots of instructor-level philologists and professor-level archaeologists and historians? Obviously unlikely, and perhaps not even desirable. But this board is showing the need for greater balance -- somehow.

Jack Sparrow said...

I think we're using these terms as technical, vocational categories, though the lines are blurred at times with our skill sets. Historians and Clarchs, of course, have to be trained in philology, just as Egyptian archaeologists need to learn Middle, Late, Early Egyptian, hieratic, demotic, and coptic. But all Egyptian archaeologists are Egyptologists, but not all Egyptologists are archaeologists, savy?

bigger thomas said...

"As I wrote some time ago, it makes sense to have more philologists than archaeologists (can't bring myself to use "clarchs") or historians, because, really, we can't expect language courses to enroll 50-100 students and imagine that the students will be served."

Ah, but your theory breaks down here as historians, archaeologists, adjuncts, and grad students are usually responsible for the intro languages sequences, especially in larger departments. That really shows the inequity of it all.

Hoss said...

Touche', Bigger Thomas. So what's your solution, then?

PS -- I should add that I meant to say in my previous post: "undeserved weight relative to their credit-hour generation..."

Anonymous said...

"Given these claims, what do you imagine would be the ideal distribution of faculty lines for a Classics department of 10? Feel free to define what sort of mission and institution said department would exist within. Or, if you think everyone would be better served by a divorce, explain why."

No, I don't think we would be better served by a fragmentation, and I believe most historians and archys would agree. But as things stand, the setup isn't healthy, especially if non-philologists feel compelled to search for jobs in other departments.

That said, there are many healthy deparments with a good balance of classical scholars. As the discipline is now delineated, I think it should be be a 4:2:2 ratio with another two who truly blur the lines between philology/history, history/archaeology, ancient philosophy, ancient medicine, etc. In other words, the combination of historians/archaeologists should at least equal the number of philologists. In my experience, the ratio is more 7:2:1, or 8:2:0, 8:1:1, etc.

frustrated said...

As an historian and an archaeologist who is trained to be critical of the sources, I really have to take issue with many of the assertions being thrown around.

"I would say up to half the jobs we ancient historians are getting these days are housed in history departments while the same could probably be said about clarchs in Art History"

Having followed closely the job openings for Classical archaeologists the past few years, I don't believe the same can be said about art history. Where are these art history jobs for ancient art historians/classical archaeologists?

"from what I hear there's so much free time beginning in the late afternoon that many of you just drink excessively or sleep around. Try putting some of that energy into studying Greek and Latin!"

This is insulting and inappropriate. Please stop.

"Does it matter? It looks like the classics program is on life support there. Two VAPs, one emeritus, one full professor who doesn't look far off from retirement, and a chair whose job was put on the line last year in a bizarro vote-of-confidence search where the administration decided "on second thought, he isn't too bad."

A GW prof already (very patiently) corrected this misrepresentation; my point is that such demeaning and uninformed posts only harm the job search process and the field as a whole.

"Some of these latter posts are a perfect example of the antiquated paradigm that will end Classics. G-town has a strong classics program because of its strong tradition as a top Catholic school"

This is totally inaccurate and a slap in the face to the faculty members who have worked hard over the last couple of decades to raise the standing of the Classics department at Georgetown (Georgetown didn't have a Classics department 30 years ago). Its strength has nothing to do with some inherent Catholic tradition. Check your facts.

"Look around, you often find at least one Clarch in a large state U anthro program now."

Can you give examples to back this up?

"Have fun commisserating with your German and Italian language colleagues in the future."

Again, no need to be mean, arrogant, or insulting.

"There are plenty of pretty decent universities that have moved away from traditional departments and do house all languages together in larger "Literature" departments or have "Mediterranean Studies" departments."

Again, what are these universities? I would like to know.

I think this is an important conversation, but I am very discouraged with the current lack of firm evidence or data and (in some cases) integrity in the discussion. The arguments seem to rest on people's general "impressions" and already entrenched positions. People are throwing out numbers and anecdotal evidence left, right, and center, but it's so haphazard and disorganized, at this point anyone could point to whatever statistic they want to support their point.

Dialogues about the discipline are good, but I think it would be better if we could all put the resentment away (I realize that many people have already done that). We're all playing for the same team here.

Finally, I would beg people to watch what they say about other departments, in this thread or any thread. As everyone should be aware of by now, faculty and SCs are reading these blogs, and it's the negative and misinformed posts which stand out. They are not making a good impression.

Anonymous said...

"There are plenty of pretty decent universities that have moved away from traditional departments and do house all languages together in larger "Literature" departments or have "Mediterranean Studies" departments."

Again, what are these universities? I would like to know.


UCSD, Arizona and Penn State come to mind immediately--though, UCSD did fail to hire a new Latinist after Dylan Saylor left a couple of years ago.

I think a lot of this begs the question as to how we define a 'healthy' or 'successful' program. Does it need to have graduate studies? Doe sit need to produce a certain number of majors? Or can it be strong because its faculty are productive scholars? Or that is produces a certain number of students who go on to good grad programs?

enlightened said...

I didn't contribute to any of the discussion so far, but I can agree with many points, despite the rhetoric. For reference, I'm several years into a TT position so I'm neither a frustrated applicant nor a defensive senior scholar.

Frustrated, let's take a stab at some of your points.

First, if you don't know any clarchs in Art History, I have serious doubts about your MC credentials.

While I disagree with the tone of the GW "calling out" and I appreciate the response of the GW faculty member, I fundamentally don't see where the latter has disputed the claims of "Two VAPs, one emeritus, one full professor who doesn't look far off from retirement, and a chair..." I would say TT/tenured faculty numbers is as good of a barometer on judging a program's health as any. Perhaps you were convinced by "we are looking to replace the Emeritus," or "the two VAP faculty members are currently being considered for permanent contract psotions?" Well, I'm hoping to win the lotto one day but hope is just that...hope.

People have already been over the merging of departments and given examples. Read more carefully.

I for one welcome even the most vulgar of comments if it raises issues and presents any kernel of truth, no matter how unwelcome. The frankness of these anonymous talks is its strength. Where else do you propose that these issues be discussed? Over drinks at the APA welcome reception? If faculty are so thinned-skinned as to be unable to see past the dross, they should ignore this website rather than pursue lame attempts to reprimand posters like its their classroom.

Anonymous said...

Re: larger "Literature" departments or have "Mediterranean Studies" departments

I'm not the OP of this comment, but do a Google search on "foreign languages and literatures," or even "Spanish Classics Department" as suggested above. There are plenty of universities housing classics in larger language programs. "Mediterranean Studies" departments I'm not sure about, though there are plenty of interdisciplinary programs such as AHMA at Berkeley and IPCAA at Michigan.

One of the VAPs at the "dying" GWU Program said...

While I disagree with the tone of the GW "calling out" and I appreciate the response of the GW faculty member, I fundamentally don't see where the latter has disputed the claims of "Two VAPs, one emeritus, one full professor who doesn't look far off from retirement, and a chair..." I would say TT/tenured faculty numbers is as good of a barometer on judging a program's health as any. Perhaps you were convinced by "we are looking to replace the Emeritus," or "the two VAP faculty members are currently being considered for permanent contract psotions?" Well, I'm hoping to win the lotto one day but hope is just that...hope.

As one of the VAPs at GWU, I'll out myself here and say that while there is a lot of hope in the other person's comments as opposed to 'concrete' results, it isn't baseless. Last year at this time, we had a Chair who was contract faculty, two tenured profs (one retiring) and two adjuncts. because of the growth in student numbers, the Chair was tenured, the two adjuncts were converted to VAPs and the Dean renewed the tenure line for the retiring faculty member. This was a big vote of confidence from the administration since they had not renewed the tenure line of the last person who retired 6 years previous. That they are considering making even one of the VAP positions permanent (even as contract) is another good thing. If they wanted to let the department die, they could (and would) have not renewed the tenure line. They would not have considered moving anyone from adjuncts to full-time nor would they even consider expanding the permanent faculty in the department. This is a university that, over the last decade, has really taken the adjunct approach to education as their mantra having not increased overall tenure line at all while increasing adjuncts by 40% or so. That the university has begun reversing that position, it is a sign that they actually do recognize the value of the department and their growing contribution to the university. It isn't the jackpot but it is at least a $10 scratch off win--enough to get a few more lotto tickets.

Jack Kevorkian said...

Perhaps not actively dying, but "life support" isn't totally inappropriate except from maybe an etiquette standpoint.

frustrated said...

"First, if you don't know any clarchs in Art History, I have serious doubts about your MC credentials."

Of course I do, but that's not what my point was about. The suggestion was that perhaps half of ClArchs are now finding jobs in art history departments, and I say that if you look at the job postings over the last couple of years, that simply doesn't hold up. And again, why do you have to reduce your criticism of my point to a personal attack?

dead horse said...

Lighten up, frustrated. The OP was an historian by the sounds of it and he was making more of a qualitative point than a quantitative one.

GWU VAP said...

It's all in how you look at it. Perhaps 'emerging from a coma' might be a better phrase.

Needless to say, I know I would rather work with someone who understands that building a program is hard work and slow but rewarding and who wants to contribute to continued growth. Those of us who are here have been working very, very hard and it is starting to pay off. We aren't all optimism--we understand our reality better than others. But the administration has been working with us and has stated their desire to continue working with us and that's a good thing from our perspective. If others out there don't think so, they don't have to apply for the job.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your frank comments, GWU vap. I can say from experience that "Dean Kevorkian" is not an uncommon spectre in the humanities, so kudos to your department for fighting the good fight. I for one think you guys are approaching it the right way with your next hire. GW has the money, you just have to make yourself relevant to tap into it.

Oudeis said...

Last year at this time, we had a Chair who was contract faculty, two tenured profs (one retiring) and two adjuncts. because of the growth in student numbers, the Chair was tenured, the two adjuncts were converted to VAPs and the Dean renewed the tenure line for the retiring faculty member. This was a big vote of confidence from the administration since they had not renewed the tenure line of the last person who retired 6 years previous. That they are considering making even one of the VAP positions permanent (even as contract) is another good thing. If they wanted to let the department die, they could (and would) have not renewed the tenure line. ... This is a university that, over the last decade, has really taken the adjunct approach to education as their mantra having not increased overall tenure line at all while increasing adjuncts by 40% or so. That the university has begun reversing that position, it is a sign that they actually do recognize the value of the department and their growing contribution to the university.

I have no GW ties, nor a stake in the department, beyond a "go team!" interest as a fellow classicist. But this really is an important shift, and the outed VAP is making a very good point.

We all need to recognize progress when we see it, and to congratulate it. We all need to be aware of the adjunctification trend-lines, the loss of formerly-secure tenure-lines, etc. Unfortunately, these sorts of issues are rarely, if ever, talked about among graduate students. Why? Because the institutions where we receive our graduate training do not, typically, have these sorts of problems. But most of us will not end up at such institutions, and we need to be much better at professionalizing ourselves in the face of these challenges.

Some of you have pooh-poohed the "we are all in this together" sentiment. But really, we are. It is important for philologists to recognize that many of these complaints by archaeologists and historians are legitimate. But those doing the (oftimes justified) complaining should also consider being a bit more constructive in their criticisms.

Everybody, keep talking, but chill. Read the red-letter text at the top of this blog.

Anonymous said...

I can't say that this thread hasn't got me thinking. I'm now in the second year of grad school in a top 10 classics department after breezing through a classics program as an undergrad. I was always under the impression that if you keep you nose to the grindstone and come out with a Ph.D. in Latin, a job would be pretty much waiting for you. Will we be in the same boat as Hellenists and archeologists in 5 years?

Anonymous said...

A Latinist from a top-10 program? The only way you could mess that up would be 1) really suck, 2) choose an absurdly obscure dissertation topic, such a commentary on an unknown Latin medical writer, 3) and have an advisor who is widely disliked and writes letters of recommendation that end up being ignored or arousing animosity. But if you're good and doing a dissertation on a canonical author, and especially if your faculty make an effort for their grads on the market, you shouldn't lose too much sleep. (N.B.: This is a semi-informed opinion, and laced with some amount of cynicism, but wouldn't have been written if not for very good anecdotal evidence.)

Anonymous said...

As an ancient historian/philologist in a large Classics department I admit that I have thought about applying for jobs in an ancient history department elsewhere, simply because I find this traditional, philology driven department intellectually stifling, much like the previous Classics department I taught in. As much as I may enjoy, in a perverted fashion, nodding and smiling next to the cheese dip while pretending to get every witty riposte delivered in Latin, and every allusion to Callimachus, I dream of having archaeologists and MC specialists to talk to. Heck at this point I would happily take an anthropologist and another discussion about post-processualism.
And it isn't that I don't like teaching the languages (I really do).

poldy said...

A Latinist from a top-10 program? The only way you could mess that up would be 1) really suck

As if I needed more proof that I suck.

Anonymous said...

"Look around, you often find at least one Clarch in a large state U anthro program now."

Can you give examples to back this up?



http://anthro.web.arizona.edu/people/display_fac_details.php?id=23

Anonymous said...

Hmm, let's try that link again.

http://anthro.web.arizona.edu/people/display_fac_details.php?id=23

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure Arizona is very representative program. It has one of the largest and best-funded physical anthro/arch. programs in the country.

But even if we accept the claim that 50% of Clarchs are housed in anthro departments (and I certainly don't accept this), do we really think this is a good thing?

Or, let me put it this way. To all the Clarchs reading this post. If you had to choose, which departmental affiliation would you choose, if you had to choose only one:

Classics

Anthropology

Art History

Other (explain what and why)

Not sure if this poll will work, but what the heck.

Anonymous said...

Not the OP, but I don't see where anyone claimed that half the clarchs are in anthro. Also, why discount Arizona when the last poster specifically responded for examples to the statement, "Look around, you often find at least one Clarch in a large state U anthro program now."

Now Arizona has a great program, but pretty much every large public university has a decent one, including Arizona State down the road (which might arguably rank even higher).

Perhaps I'm nitpicking, but we should convey the points accurately so there isn't any more confusion than there needs to be.

mid-sized public university junior prof said...

It comes down to what anon 1:11 alluded to, more than departmental affiliation. It's about camaraderie and academic dialogue, and I haven't had either for years in an academic setting. Yes, I teach Greek and Latin, but for service more than anything else; it's a living. As much as I like my colleagues, I don't really get this until I hit my field season in Turkey.

All things equal, I would prefer a classics department, but only one that has a diversity of interests beyond philology. So all things equal, I would choose a Classics department, but I would leave in a heartbeat if it meant more camaraderie elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Not the OP, but I don't see where anyone claimed that half the clarchs are in anthro. Also, why discount Arizona when the last poster specifically responded for examples to the statement, "Look around, you often find at least one Clarch in a large state U anthro program now."

...

Perhaps I'm nitpicking, but we should convey the points accurately so there isn't any more confusion than there needs to be.


Fair enough on the second point. I think someone

Library Bound said...

Not the OP, but I don't see where anyone claimed that half the clarchs are in anthro. Also, why discount Arizona when the last poster specifically responded for examples to the statement, "Look around, you often find at least one Clarch in a large state U anthro program now."

...

Perhaps I'm nitpicking, but we should convey the points accurately so there isn't any more confusion than there needs to be.


Grrrrrrrr.... Sorry about that. I hit publish when I meant to fill in my nom de plume. And, c'mon people. Get with the program. It is no wonder I was confused since everybody is Anonymous Time Stamp. Pick a nickname and stick with it!

Anyway, as I was saying.

I accept the above points. Sorry. I think I mis-remembered an earlier (Anonymous!! argh!) claim above about half of Archaeologists being in Art History programs and transposed that into Anthro programs. Sorry to mix things up, and thanks for the correction.

I guess I was taking exception to Arizona precisely because I think that the Arizona Anthro program is exceptional. But now, I think that is all a moot point. Anyway, I'm still interested in where Archaeologists would themselves prefer to be housed. Hopefully people will vote in the poll.

Just cut and paste and up the number accordingly to keep the voting going. So far we have one vote for Classics.

Classics 1

Anthropology 0

Art History 0

Other (explain what and why) 0


Any other MC voters out there?

Anonymous said...

Library bound, your poll is pointless, because most clarchs and greek and roman MC people would obviously want to be housed in an interdisciplinary classical studies department, but the whole phenomenon of taking jobs in other departments (and in many cased being happier for it) is related to the fact that classics departments are in many (most) cases really just 19th century philology departments looking to apply a veneer of material culture in the hopes of attracting more undergrads and keeping the grim reapers (the deans) away. If that is the kind of department you mean by Classics, then I choose anthropology (or art history, if it is an interdisciplinary department with a strong archeaological presence). But ideally, i suspect we would almost all choose an interdisciplinary classical studies department where ancient historians and archaeologists and other MC types were at least equally represented, and the graduate and undergraduate major and minor distribution requirements were tailored in such a way that our specialties could be utilized maximally.

What anon 1:30 said...

.

Library Bound said...

Library bound, your poll is pointless, because most clarchs and greek and roman MC people would obviously want to be housed in an interdisciplinary classical studies department

Given the comments in this thread, I certainly don't get the impression that this is an obvious assumption. Thus the poll.

And, quite frankly, based upon the comments you followed this up with, it doesn't seem like you view philologists as much better than dead wood:

classics departments are in many (most) cases really just 19th century philology departments looking to apply a veneer of material culture in the hopes of attracting more undergrads and keeping the grim reapers (the deans) away.

If you attribute such standards and motives to your (potential?) philologist colleagues, then why should they assume that you would, in fact, rather be housed with them, rather than in Anthro, etc.?

And you know what? There might be a very good reason to break Classics departments up! That is, for the good of the larger issue at hand: advancing the study of Classical Antiquity. If Archaeologists can ask more interesting questions, and get better answers, by leaving the Classics fold, then it seems like it is in the interests of everyone for them to do so. Same with Ancient Historians migrating to History departments.

I want the field to advance intellectually, and if that means MC-types hanging more with Anthro-types, go for it. If philologists can't drum up numbers to sustain themselves, well, then the market will have spoken.

If that is the kind of department you mean by Classics, then I choose anthropology (or art history, if it is an interdisciplinary department with a strong archeaological presence). But ideally, i suspect we would almost all choose an interdisciplinary classical studies department where ancient historians and archaeologists and other MC types were at least equally represented, and the graduate and undergraduate major and minor distribution requirements were tailored in such a way that our specialties could be utilized maximally.

This assumes a rather large department. I think 4 is rather the average, and most departments don't have a graduate program. Your description seems to assume that the norm is a large university. It isn't. So, if most "Classics" departments can only, realistically, field 4 or so full-time faculty, what should such a beast look like?

In the interest of, you know, opening up a conversation rather than declaring it "pointless", I'll start. I'd like to see a Hellenist, a Latinist, a Historian and an Archaeologist. Ideally all four would have some cross-over interests. The Historian and Archaeologist should be able to back each other up when needed, and both of them should be competent enough in at least one of the languages to teach all levels. -- But, btw, the beginning languages should be left to the philologists. It is much harder (and more important for the department), to teach beginning Greek and Latin well, and effectively, than to teach an upper-level Latin course. So maybe SCs are asking Roman Archaeologists to teach upper-level Greek because they know that asking them to take charge of beginning Greek is an unfair and irresponsible request, but I digress. -- Both philologists really should have some MC experience, but how that is gotten, I don't know. Too bad the field doesn't have the funds to ensure that all grad students go overseas and participate in digs, or at the very least something like the ASCSA summer program. But again, we are talking ideals, not practice.

The point of all this rambling is that there seems to be two very different issues at hand: Enrollments and Scholarship.

You, as an MC-type, can legitimately make the claim that classics enrollments unfairly depend upon you, at least in those departments where you are found. I doubt many would dispute this in a general sense.

But then you, or others, seem also to be making a different sort of claim. Namely that the traditional, philological approach to the field is antiquated and ineffective, and that you are better served intellectually by leaving the fold. It is this latter claim which commands more interest, in my mind.

And that is why I offered up the poll. These issues can focus upon employment, upon distributive justice, or upon the actual future of how we study the ancient world. I think, ultimately, the first two will emerge naturally. The latter is more directly in our hands.

backtofront said...

Re. Library Bound's poll:

I agree that it's not pointless to articulate a position. I have been reading through the comments here and those that have jumped over to the Job Search thread (come back!). There’s a lot of food for thought, although I’m not sure I like what’s on the menu.

There are drawbacks for me as an MCist in all the departments LB lists. My concerns: 1) I would prefer to teach courses in which I have some training and interest (I am not experienced as a language instructor), and 2) I would love to have at least one "colleague" (= a fellow ancient MCist).

As many point out, most departments simply cannot (or are, perhaps, unwilling to) accommodate these wishes. So I feel as though I'm left deciding who makes a close second to the “colleague” desideratum (and please don't take me to task for these off-the-cuff summations): those who deal exclusively with MC and are deeply concerned with theories of viewing, but know little beyond the greatest hits of the ancient world? Those who are concerned with the big picture (culture theory, etc.), but see my specialty as a methodological/theoretical backwater? Those who know a lot about a particular aspect of the ancient world, but know little-nothing about what I do?

And finally, is my fantasy position in a department in which field work is expected, supported, and understood? E.g., a department that understands the trend in archaeology toward group publications?

I suppose I’m leaning toward archaeology ('anthro' in LBs poll), though I’m applying to all of the above departments. Thanks to the very sympathetic TT historian (on the JS thread), I think we are wise to apply to generalist positions, too.

I'm giving myself five years to teach anywhere and anything. If there's no light at the end of the tunnel in five years, I'm moving on the plan B--whatever that is.

Anonymous said...

I'm an ancient historian, and all things being equal, I'd rather be either in a strongly interdisciplinary department or a joint appt in history and classics. If forced to choose, I'd probably pick history, because I'd rather teach intro. world/European history courses than intro. Latin/Greek, but I certainly think there's more productive dialogue for me with other classicists (philologists/archaeologists) than with most of the 19th century Americanists. So I lose out either way.

In terms of the "justice" issue, it's interesting. Certainly, I get aggrieved at the number of departments which have no ancient historians at all and 3 specialists in Greek drama and 1 in Greek philosophy. It often seems like the job market involves "like picking like," which is I think what the non-philologists are reacting to.

This makes sense, and I should say that I suspect if a department was composed of an archaic Greek historian, a classical Gk historian, a Roman Republic historian, and a Late Antique specialist, they'd think it made perfect sense to hire someone who worked on the history of the Roman Empire rather than, say, a specialist in red-figure vases. Unfortunately from the non-philologist perspective, the current weight of depts is philologially oriented, and I don't really know how to solve this problem except to encourage SCs to seek to fill gaps in their department rather than looking for kindred spirits. I'm cynical that change will come quickly from this sort of approach, however.

Anonymous said...

Do departments really have "dialogues"? I've been in more than one department, and while everyone would get along fine I've yet to see any great intellectually enriched dialogue among my colleagues. Sure, faculty members will sometimes give a paper, and people will chat, and there are social events away from campus. But for the most part, people stick to themselves, teaching their classes and doing their research. (Just to get classical on you, they/we behave more like Homer's Cyclopses, each living off in a cave, than a proper Greek polis.) I start to think that this business about a dialogue is just some mythical beast like a chimera. (Or a Cyclops, I guess.) So are some of you telling me that your departments are full of rich intellectual and scholarly interactions on a regular basis? Because if not, and my own experience is more the rule than the exception, a lot of this discussion about what sort of departments one should be in is arguably pointless.

Hoss said...

In response to Anon 3:29 asking if dialogues actually happen:

Just two nights ago, I had a long conversation with a sculptor colleague of mine who's interested in creating a wearable piece that makes reference to the Erechtheion Karyatids. My best friends in this lousy burg are that sculptor and a photographer also in our department, and we always talk about the things we're working on. Same with my Italian Renaissance and Medieval art historian colleagues. This is why I enjoyed being at the Academy so much more than the School -- when the links are less obvious, there's so much more for everyone to learn.

As for my vote, I think "Mediterranean Studies" sounds like the most interesting place to be -- think of a "Corrupting Sea"-type atmosphere, spanning all time, but focusing on that one super-region. In the real world, I guess I would say anthro or art history. Classical Studies seems so provincial.

Library Bound said...

See, that wasn't so hard! :-)

I happen to think Hoss' vision (the departmental love child of Horden and Purcell) sounds the most intriguing. And I'm far from a MC person. As long as it is a fully-fledged department, as opposed to a "program" or such. I am wary of joint appointments for individual faculty members, and think programs do not, generally, have the necessary political weight to argue for resources, etc. from the administration.

Are there any "Mediterranean Studies" programs out there?

Dyskolos said...

It ain't never going to happen, not the right way: for a true "Mediterranean Studies" program you'd have to have the people working on early Christianity and also Jewish history, and you're not going to get these people out of the religion department. So the idea is doomed before it ever starts.

Dyskolos said...

P.S. And Islamic history too, of course.

Anonymous said...

It sounds exactly like what George Washington is trying to do, as detailed earlier in this thread.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Christianity and also Jewish history...And Islamic history too...

I am in a department with this distribution. All of us have co-appointments in other departments as well and we teach cross-listed courses frequently. These things do exist even if they aren't common.

Anonymous said...

Though it will probably be considered a rare exception as is usally the case when examples are called for here, don't forget about Penn State's .

Anonymous said...

Hmm, what's with the html here?

Anyway, I was saying don't forget about Penn State's Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies (http://jbe.la.psu.edu/cams/). They have quite a diversity in faculty.

Anonymous said...

This kind of kills two birds with one stone, but an interesting department is U Wisconsin La Crosse's Sociology and Archaeology. It's essentially a sociology/anthro department, but there's a classicist on the faculty - http://perth.uwlax.edu/sociology/Archaeology/arc_faculty.htm. It's also a relatively small department at a comprehensive university, lest we start hearing that only flagship and elite universities have innovative departments.

malakas said...

Hmm, it looks like Dyskalos' Victorian world is starting to crumble around him...

Anonymous said...

Here's an obvious one - Bryn Mawr's Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology. Since there is a separate Department of Classical Studies, they have the luxury of not even really have a resident classical archaeologist ever since Stell Miller-Collett retired. They do have an Aegeanist, historian, Iranian archaeologist, and Near Eastern archaeologist. How common is this? That a rhetorical question, by the way. :-)

Dyskolos said...

Who says I'm Victorian? If you read my post again, you'll see that I have no problem with Mediterranean Studies, I just don't believe that it would be easy to get the religion people out of their current departments at many institutions. Penn State is an excellent example of how it can be done.

Since my nickname comes with a certain amount of misanthropy, I'll just say that based on what I've heard about sociologists, we want NOTHING to do with them, they can only drag us down. While there are some good ones, an awful lot are pseudo-scientists whose work is next to worthless and who do not believe in an open exchange of ideas. It's not a coincidence that students looking for an "easy A" often get sociology degrees. (And NO, I will not back up my assertions here, this isn't the place to discuss what's wrong with some sociology departments. Let's just say that I've known more than one sociology Ph.D. from a top program, and have heard more than enough to convince me that that field has a problem. Seems to me that the average degree-granting classics department has much higher scholarly standards than the average degree-granting sociology program. And if I'm wrong, then we know in whose company I'll be spending an eternity in Hell.)

Anonymous said...

That's funny, b/c there are many departments who also want nothing to do with classicists, though for slightly different reasons. My answer is that you just haven't met the right classicists. Perhaps you just haven't met the right sociologists and the "right" ones would be attracted to the departments we're talking about? Just some food for thought.

Anonymous said...

What is up with the HTML? Is this just a really non-subtle way for the Penn State folks to advertise themselves?

The Other Finalist said...

Why is everything blue here, and why does the Penn State CAMS page pop up when I click on any one of the few previous posts?

Does anybody else see this, or is it just my computer doing this?

The Old Oligarch said...

Not your imagination. When Anonymous 7:24 posted his/her link to GWU, the page's HTML code didn't have a "close-link" symbol, and that started this. I'm not wise in the ways of fixing it -- perhaps someone else is. Perhaps someone should edit that post and remove the link, if possible.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

test

I am Spartacus said...

Okay, there you go; I closed the tag.

Bigger Thomas said...

This thread (and site) is now deader than a black classicists meeting.

Anonymous said...

We are all frantically prepping for the APA. No time for blog-reading!

Anonymous said...

Prepping for what? Talking about your diss for the 45th time? Go get Starbucks, make some snow angels and read a novel in front of a fire.

Anonymous said...

We have no snow, no Starbucks, and I have no fireplace. And it is way too hot to use one anyway!

I am reviewing sample syllabi, etc.

Too wound up to relax!

Anonymous said...

Okay, go drink some iced tea and go for a walk then! :0)

Anonymous said...

RIP