Application deadline for this year’s Summer Seminar program is January 15
New ASCSA Traveling Seminars Kick Off This SummerJoanie Blackwell
As announced in recent months, the American School is unveiling a new summer program for 2017: the Summer Seminars. In addition to the School’s long-running Summer Session program (one session of which is still being offered in 2017), two 18-day sessions will provide competitive students the opportunity to explore specific topics in Greece. Participants will visit major monuments with exceptional scholars as study leaders to improve their understanding of the country’s landscape, history, literature, and culture.
In the combined Q&A below, the professors leading the 2017 seminars, as well as members of the Summer Session and ad hoc Committees who conceptualized the seminars, offer their perspectives on this exciting development in the School’s academic programming.
- Glenn Bugh (Virginia Tech), Summer Session Committee Chair (2016–17)
- Mark Fullerton (Ohio State), Faculty for Greek Sculpture Seminar, Committee on Admissions and Fellowships
- Amy Sowder Koch (Towson), Summer Session and ad hoc Committee Member
- Michael Laughy (Washington and Lee University), ad hoc Committee Member
- Christina Salowey (Hollins University), Faculty for Myth on Site Seminar; Former Summer Session Committee Chair (2006–2016)
What inspired the School to introduce this new program?
Christina Salowey: Managing Committee Chair Jenifer Neils (Case Western Reserve University) and I wanted to make sure we were serving today’s Classicists well with the Summer Sessions, so she called an ad hoc committee to explore the issue. We determined that there is a certain constituency that is served well by the 47-day survey-style immersion in all of the sites of Greece (the traditional Summer Session), but there are other groups that will be better served by a shorter 18-day program: topical seminars created to dive in depth into a particular subject that can be studied through the monuments, landscapes, and museums in Greece (the newly-formed Summer Seminar).
Amy Sowder Koch: The traditional 6-week Summer Session is a true value when we consider the breadth of Greece that it covers, the range in historical perspectives that it considers, and the expertise of archaeologists it draws on. Students looking for this type of program will still find it and thrive in it. It can pose challenges, however, for those unable to commit the time or secure the funding required. We wondered if a shorter, more focused program might be attractive for students who traditionally might not consider the ASCSA Summer Session—or even those who have completed it and might want to do something in addition. At the same time, it allows faculty to draw on their own particular expertise, and gives them greater flexibility in scheduling and course design.
Michael Laughy: The American School is not only a premiere example of a foreign institution in another country, but the breadth of what we cover is very impressive. The Summer Seminars were designed with our broad mission—the study of Greece in all periods—in mind. Over several years, these field seminars will cover material attractive to multiple disciplines and time periods, thereby involving more facets of the School, fulfilling more of the mission within a single program, and realizing the full scale of what there is to do at the ASCSA and in Greece in general.
Glenn Bugh: The key is to get the students to Greece. Because once they go, Greece sells itself, the School sells itself, and they realize, “I’ve got to figure out a way to get back to Greece.” This is what everybody does: “I have to get back to Greece.”
The twin kouroi at the museum in Ancient Corinth will be on the schedule for the sculpture summer seminar.
Seized from looters by the Greek police in May 2010, they can now be seen at the newly renovated museum.
How does the Summer Seminar program compare to other academic summer programs in Greece?
Michael Laughy: It’s not a pop tour of Greece; this is the insiders’ tour. The Summer Seminars have just as much access to the museums, excavations, and libraries as the other American School programs do. The same goes for faculty and guest lecturers: the people who wrote your textbooks are the ones talking to you. The “on the road” aspect is also important; students get to really experience modern Greece outside of Athens.
Christina Salowey: At the heart of it, the uniqueness of any of our programs is the American School of Classical Studies itself. It’s a gathering of all the people on the planet who are passionate and crazy about Greece and the ancient world. It’s like the Omphalos (navel) of the ancient world and so any program that springs from that has resources that other programs can’t even come close to. The topic-based format is also different. It allows for repeat participants who can come back again and again and learn something new each time. And faculty members can teach the specialties they are known for and are most passionate about.
Mark and Christina, what do you hope students will ultimately get out of your seminars?
Mark Fullerton: For my seminar, I would hope they get to hone their strategies for thinking about Greek Sculpture, for looking closely and then stepping back to consider the broader cultural contexts that caused the work to be made and experienced in particular ways. Then repeat the process, perhaps looking for something else.
Christina Salowey: I want everyone to have a share in the Myth on Site seminar, just like a seminar in an ordinary university classroom. Students will be conducting a project as they go along and sharing their insights with us. We will have read some key sources going in, so that when we’re on site, we can really be discussing the scholarly issues, and not just describing what we see. We’ll be reinterpreting and critiquing what we’re looking at and what others have said about it, and coming up with new ideas of our own.
What drives your passion for your topics and what excites you most about leading traveling seminars on them?
Christina Salowey: I’m very excited to introduce people who have learned about myth only through text to the way the monuments speak to us about myth, and the way the landscapes in Greece speak to us about myth. A lot of the mythology in Greece is influenced by the very special land that Greece is. It’s important to understand that myth is always produced and told in a context. If we can understand that context, then we get to understand what the meaning of myth might have been to the people who consumed it in that way. So I’m very excited about just being involved in myth and then getting that reciprocal feedback from students; their enthusiasm will feed my enthusiasm and my work, and that’s a great feedback loop. And of course traveling to all these places again will be great.
Mark Fullerton: I never set out to study Greek Sculpture. I studied it first because I was working on projects in Etruscan and Roman sculpture and it became immediately apparent that an understanding of Greek sculpture was an essential skill. Second, it happened that I had the privilege of studying Greek Sculpture in graduate school with Brunilde Ridgway, whose own passion for the subject is, to say the least, infectious. For years I worked primarily on later material, but I continually found myself returning to works of the Archaic and Classical period, for reasons that are not always easy to articulate. It sounds trite, but I can look at these works forever, and always see something new. If I can hand on even a little of that enjoyment to my students, I’ll feel that I’ve accomplished something of value.
How will the seminar format impact learning?
Mark Fullerton: From my experiences as a Regular Member, a Summer Session director, and most recently as chair of the Admissions and Fellowships Committee, I would say that ASCSA programs are all structured according to a highly participatory seminar format, which is why our programs must carefully select participants. But the skills and backgrounds we look for can and should vary considerably. Ideally one brings together a broad diversity of interests and backgrounds. Students should want to learn from one another and educate one another. They should expect to present reports themselves and engage with the presentations by their co-participants, guest lecturers and of course the Seminar instructor. Few questions of importance in the study of Greek sculpture have definitive answers; it is this discursive process that matters and what makes the experience intellectually worthwhile, and fun.
Christina Salowey: I’m hoping there’ll be more intellectual engagement and different kinds of presentations. I’d love to see performances of plays in certain areas or reenactments of poses, of sculpture; I would like to see more creative work, and will encourage more creative work. It will be fun to see how everyone is thinking about what we see.
Will the Seminars expose students to guest lecturers or excavations?
Christina Salowey: I hope that having international experts speaking with the students will be one of the great hallmarks of the program. So many of the world’s authorities on topics of Hellenic studies—curators, scholars, excavators—are in Greece during the summer. Drawing on this community is one of the things that will make the Summer Seminars unique. There are always serendipitous things that happen, too; those great moments when you realize it’s a small world and everybody knows everybody. I would also like to bring my group to a couple of active, live excavations so that they see where this material comes from. It’s a way to understand that when they look at objects that display myth, they’re not looking at a textual tradition; they’re looking at an actual touch with the past.
Mark Fullerton: I already have a few lecturers lined up, including Andrew Stewart (University of California, Berkeley) and Olga Palagia (University of Athens). Everyone I have talked to so far is excited about the seminar and eager to help out, as was also the case when I led a regular Summer Session some years back.
Mark, you say that students will have an exclusive opportunity to study several newly discovered Greek sculptures in your seminar. Can you elaborate?
Mark Fullerton: Right now I would cite the Daedalic kore from the Thera cemetery found in 2001 and only just now put on display; the Despotiko sculptures, some of which are in the Paros museum, but I have also arranged with Dr. Kourayos, the excavator, to visit the site and see his other material; and the twin kouroi from Klenia seized by police in 2010 and put on display just this year in the Corinth Museum. Hopefully by summer there will be more new discoveries!
Your seminar will also mark the first time that an ASCSA summer program visits the islands. Why is that important for your topic and how will it enhance students' experience of Greece?
Mark Fullerton: Large-scale marble sculpture seems to have originated in the islands, primarily the Cyclades, although Samos seems also to have played a role. I would love to go there as well, but it is just too far for the time that we have. While many of the core monuments are in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, some significant examples are not. Moreover, we will also be able to visit quarries, including those with unfinished statues in situ.
Your book Greek Sculpture just came out in March. Will you be using that book in the seminar? What will it be like to teach from the real thing—the sculptures themselves—just after completing a major publication on them?
Mark Fullerton: I will make the students aware of my book, and they may find it of use. Reading assignments will focus on recent scholarship along with older works that have had lasting impact. As for the second question, we’ll see! I can say that my motivation for proposing the seminar was very much prompted by the work I put into producing the book, and that the emphases that run throughout the book will be the emphases of the seminar.
Delphi: Home of the Oracle of Greek myth
Christina, not only will you be leading the Myth on Site seminar this summer, but you have led multiple Summer Sessions and have served as Summer Session Committee Chair for a decade. What made you dedicate so much of your career to the ASCSA summer programs?
Christina Salowey: There are so many reasons. I did the Summer Session in 1989 and it changed my life. I thought I’d be a Latin specialist, but Greece—and the variety of approaches to ancient Greece—really got me. I found the interdisciplinarity of the work they do at the School so exciting, and it changed the way I looked at my graduate career. There’s nothing like the School for immersing you in Classics as a field. You realize that you will learn from scholars in a variety of disciplines. I wanted to give back to the School because it has really played a big role in my success and my career, as well as in my life happiness. I come back to the School twice a year also because of the library—I can get done in a week in Athens what takes me a year to get done at home. I found a niche in the School where I could help and so I went with it.
Which myths will your seminar focus on and to which parts of Greece will that lead you?
Christina Salowey: Well, much of my mythology work has focused on Herakles, so I know I will talk about those stories, but I want the course to be a broad survey that looks at mythological narratives in a variety of contexts—in the sanctuary, in the marketplace, in the political realm, in the agricultural and natural landscape. We will mainly explore Attika, Central Greece, and the Peloponnesos, making stops at well-known sites like Delphi and Olympia and exploring them in a more focused way, and lesser known sites like the Kabeirion, Cape Tainaron, Oros on Aegina, and Tegea.