Notes from AIA-SCS 2022

Last year I summarized the highs (and lows) of the annual joint meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and the Society for Classical Studies (SCS). I figured, why not do it again?

The 2022 AIA-SCS conference was virtual again this year.

I don’t think anyone would be surprised to find out that this year’s meeting did not proceed without incident. 

Most egregious, I think, was when it was brought to everyone’s attention that the title of one paper was both inappropriate and wholly unprofessional in its exposure and trivializing of a student’s mental health issues. The matter was seemingly quickly resolved, with a change in the paper’s title and an apology issued by the presenter.

I think the issue raises three larger problems, however:

  1. Why would anyone think that such an approach would be appropriate?
  2. How the heck did a paper with such a title and premise get accepted in the first place?
  3. When will our relationships with our students be such that making light of serious issues in conference papers and on social media becomes far less commonplace?

I’m not going to go into any of these points, but they’re just things that have been on my mind since it blew up on Twitter.

Instead, this post will focus more on the highlights of the conference for me. It will also include a list of sessions that I wish I’d had the time or energy to attend while the conference was happening.

Honestly, I don’t know what’s more exhausting: physically running between rooms in a conference hall or the mental effort it takes to shift from Zoom session to Zoom session. Right now, I’m sensing it’s the latter.

You may sense a theme in the talks and sessions that I managed to make it to (and even some of the ones I’m planning to watch later). Sorry not sorry.

Top 5 Papers:

(in no particular order)

Najee Olya – Exiting Frank M. Snowden, Jr’s Anthropological Gallery: Toward an Understanding of Egyptian Influence in Ancient Greek Visual Representations of Africans 

I was pretty sad when I found out that this panel would be organized into short, 10 minute lightning talks followed by a lengthier discussion portion because I was really excited to finally get to hear this talk. I hadn’t been able to attend the full version a few months ago, and I had a pretty busy conference schedule that day so I couldn’t make it to the discussion. But what I got to hear definitely validated my excitement.

Stephen Sansom – Prediction in Pedagogy

I was primarily interested in seeing this (lightning) talk because of a post I wrote a few months ago on small teaching. Honestly, it exceeded my expectations and was super informative. It was really nice to see a real, concrete example of how one of Lang’s approaches could be implemented in the Classics classroom.

Angela Ziskowski and Michael Stobb – Old Data, New Approaches: Applying Data Analytics to the Hands of Archaic Corinthian Vase Painters

I remember thinking during this talk that I really wished that I knew how to code and/or was better-versed in digital humanities because the work highlighted in this talk really blew me away. Pottery? Check. Distribution maps? Check. Incredibly insightful analyses of patterns and relationships between vase painters? Check.

Shelley P. Haley – Sites of Salvation: Classics at Small Liberal Arts Colleges (Presidential Address)

I don’t think I ever really know what to expect going into a talk, but this was another one that really resonated with me. It never occurred to me that a lot of the things we at larger institutions think are ‘innovative’ are just things that SLACs have been doing forever – and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. It really changed my perspective on the conversation a lot. Highly recommended.

Elizabeth Heintges – Collaboration on the Macro- and Micro- Scale

Something that I was getting a lot of inspiration about from some of the talks I attended – including this one – was how to better support grad students in their professional development. The topic of collaboration came up a few times in different discussions, but this was a really wonderful addition to that conversation. 

I’d also like to plug here the fantastic news that seemed to break within 24 hours of Elizabeth’s amazing paper: the student workers’ strike at Columbia has come to an end!

3 Sessions I Recommend:

SCS 27: Ancient MakerSpaces Panel (Clara Bosak-Shroeder (University of Illinois), Flint Dibble (Dartmouth College), Francesca Giannetti (Rutgers University), Kaitlin Moleen (West Essex Regional High School), Nandini Pandey (University of Wisconsin Madison), and yours truly)

SCS 34: The Discipline and the Future of Academic Publishing (Workshop organized by Joshua Billings, Princeton University, Irene Peirano Garrison, Harvard University)

I can’t remember why I decided to join this workshop when I did, since I missed the start of it, but I’m glad I did. I actually ended up staying for a good amount of time, and was really inspired by the discussion that was happening mostly amongst the panelists. 

A major takeaway I got from the discussion was the importance (and lack) of encouragement of students to learn different ‘genres’ of academic writing, including collaborative writing! I’ve worked on two different co-authored articles and only at this moment did I realize that I had never been taught how to do that well. A big gap in graduate education for sure.

AIA 7H: Ancient Greek Pottery: Processes Of Production And Analysis

This was the only panel that I was committed to watching in full, and I’m really, really glad that I did. I went into it only really wanting to support my friend, Machal Gradoz, but was impressed by all of the papers I heard. It was an excellent way to end my conferencing experience for the year (and inspired me to do more with my own work!).

6 Sessions I’m Looking Forward to Watching Later:

AIA 4J: Activisms Ancient And Modern (Joint AIA/SCS Colloquium)

SCS 19: Inclusivity and Assessment in the Classroom (Lightning Talk Session; Deborah Beck, University of Texas at Austin, Presiding)

SCS 21: WCC Past, Present, and Future: A Celebration of the WCC’s 50th Anniversary (Workshop organized by Suzanne Lye, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Caroline Cheung, Princeton University)

Session 28: Orientalisms (Organized by the AAACC, Arum Park, University of Arizona, and Stephanie Wong, Brown University)

SCS 57: Bodies in Chairs: How to Think Inclusively about Student Welfare in Digital and Blended Learning (Workshop, organized by Irene Salvo, University of Exeter)

SCS 72: Building the Accessible Classroom (Organized by the Committee on K-12 Education, Philip Walsh, St. Andrew’s School, Jessica Blum-Sorensen, University of San Francisco, Ariana Traill, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

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