Sunoikisis DC 2015

Sunoikisis is a successful national consortium of Classics programs developed by the Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies. The goal is to extend Sunoikisis to a global audience and contribute to it with an international consortium of Digital Classics programs (Sunoikisis DC). Sunoikisis DC is based at the Alexander von Humboldt Chair of Digital Humanities at the University of Leipzig. The aim is to offer collaborative courses that foster interdisciplinary paradigms of learning. Master students of both the humanities and computer science are welcome to join the courses and work together by contributing to digital classics projects in a collaborative environment.

Sunoikisis DC will start in the SS 2015 with a Digital Classics course at the University of Leipzig. Faculty members of participating institutions will gather at the University of Leipzig on February 16-18 for a planning seminar in order to discuss course topics, schedule the academic calendar, and construct the course syllabus. The seminar is organized by the Alexander von Humboldt Chair of Digital Humanities at the University of Leipzig in collaboration with the Center for Hellenic Studies and Perseids.

Read more here.

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Digital Classicist New England, Spring 2015

We are pleased to announce the schedule for Digital Classicist New England. This initiative, inspired by and connected to London’s Digital Classicist Work in Progress Seminar, is organized in association with the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University. It will run during the spring term of the academic year 2014/15.

Seminars will run from February through April 2015 and will be hosted at Brandeis, Holy Cross, Northeastern and Tufts. Each lecture will take place from 12:00-1:15pm Eastern Standard time–while light snacks and drinks will be provided, attendees are also welcome to bring their own lunch!

As with the previous series, the video recordings of the presentations will be broadcast in realtime via videochat for later publication online, and questions for speakers will be accepted via an IRC channel. There are plans to publish papers selected from the first series of the seminar as a special issue in an appropriate open access journal.

Information concerning how to access the realtime video of the talks will be made available here shortly before the lecture.

We will continue to update the schedule  over the course of the spring with more information concerning each speaker. Flyers and other materials for printing and publicity can be found in the Google Drive folder here, which we will also continue to update with individual flyers for each speaker.

This series is supported by Brandeis University, including the Brandeis Library and Technology Services and the Department of Classical Studies, The College of the Holy Cross, Northeastern University, Tufts University and the Perseus Project. The series has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence.

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A Tenure Track Job in the US, Anti-Islamification Demonstrations in Germany, and the Redefinition of Classics

Gregory Crane
Professor of Classics and Winnick Family Professor of Entrepreneurship
Tufts University
Alexander von Humboldt Professor
University of Leipzig
January 19, 2015

In the city of Medford, within sight of the Boston skyline, the Department of Classics at Tufts University is hoping to hire a junior professor “who studies the contact between the Greco-Roman and Islamic traditions during any period through the Renaissance.” It would be hard to imagine a humanities field that is more challenging or more cut off from the often perceived realities of educating students to survive in a competitive world. It is hard enough for many to justify investing the time that it takes to master Ancient Greek or Latin — languages in which you will negotiate no contracts and by which you will not immediately advance the technological competitiveness of your nation. When you add the need to understand Classical Arabic as well as Greek and/or Latin, you find yourself in a very learned — and very very small — community. How can we justify investing a precious tenure track position in such a field of research? Shouldn’t we be putting all of our resources in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and math — the German acronym is MINT)? Greco-Roman and Islamic Studies may seem to define the paradigm of the abstruse and superfluous.

In Leipzig, I have ample reminders of history in general and the history of my field, the study of Greek and Latin, in particular. Every day, after I buy my fantastically over-priced Starbucks coffee and walk out onto the street, I look across the street at the small plaque, in German, that commemorates the destruction two generations ago of the Bamberger family’s candy business on Kristallnacht. I walk around the corner to my office in the Paulinum, a spectacular glass and steel building that looks like a church. This structure commemorates the University Church — St. Paul’s — which had stood on that site for centuries and survived the fire bombings of the Second World War. In 1968, Walter Olbricht, founder of the DDR and Leipzig native, decided that “that thing’s got to go!” (Das Ding muss weg!) — and the centuries-old church was dynamited a week later so that the then Karl Marx Platz would not have that counter-revolutionary eyesore. Before I enter, I purposefully look also across what was before and what is now again Augustusplatz and I always try to remember how twenty-five years ago, the people of Leipzig demonstrated peacefully here and stood down thousands of armed men who were supposed to impose the Chinese solution, as the crushing of demonstrations around Tiananmen square was called in 1989. Then I look across the square to the Radisson Blu Hotel and think about how Benedictus Gotthelf Teubner had located his great publishing house and the most efficient mechanism in history for distributing Greek and Latin around the world (the now derelict Post Office building sits right across the street, testifying to the shrewdness of old Teubner, whose business lived on efficient shipping networks).

I think quite a bit about the terrible things that happened around my German home over the years — and I always make a point of thinking about American slavery, about the often genocidal actions against the Native Americans, about our participation, reluctant as it may have been, in the fire-bombing of Dresden, and about what would have happened in the United States if we had lost the First World War and been on the wrong side of a Versailles Treaty. Woodrow Wilson had screened the Birth of a Nation in the White House and the resurgent Klan was brutal enough in a victorious America. What would have happened if Americans had felt, rightly or wrongly, that they had lost a war unjustly and been treated shabbily in the peace? We remain all of us primates at our core, with a propensity for violence and brutality and our specifically human nature all too easily relapses into a xenophobic and short-sighted tribalism.

The field of Classics has its own problematic traditions — every time we use the term “Classics,” a short-hand for describing the study of Greek and Latin, we imply that Greek and Latin are not just Classical languages, but the only Classical languages. The field of Classics thus embeds within its name an assumption of European cultural hegemony within the world as a whole. I see only three acceptable responses. The first is to abandon this usage and to speak more precisely of Greek and Latin studies (thus, the University of Cairo has a department of Greek and Latin Studies rather than of Classics). A second response would be to speak in terms of philology and historical languages, removing the value judgment implicit in the term Classics.

The third response is to broaden the usage and to make clear that, if we choose to speak of Classical (and thus, in some sense, privileged) languages, we recognize that there are a lot of Classical languages in the world — the nation of India alone has six official classical languages (none of which are Latin or Greek). In my own department, we have struggled by our actions for years to realize this broader understanding of Classics. My colleague Steve Hirsch did his early work on Greeks and Persians and now teaches about Ancient China as well as Greece and Rome. My colleague Anne Mahoney has managed to teach Sanskrit, largely on a volunteer basis, for years. I myself have taught about how Western Europe rediscovered Aristotle, Euclid, Galen and other Greek sources via Arabic scholarship.

Now we have a formal position — a tenure track job, the most precious commodity that an American university can bestow upon a department. We don’t yet have a position in Classical Chinese or Classical Arabic per se in the department of Classics at Tufts. But we have a chance to hire someone who bridges the gap between Greco-Roman and Islamic Culture. More importantly, we may have someone who can, for decades to come, weave into our department the broadly but superficially known story of how much we in the modern world depend upon what Islamic thinkers got from Greek culture and what they then did with it before the results of that work found their way into Western Europe via translations from Arabic into Latin. Even those who know something about this general story rarely have an emotional appreciation for its significance. If it were not for work that was done in Baghdad from 800-1000 CE and the transmission of knowledge into Latin c. 1200, there would not have been a Renaissance, and neither Boston nor Berlin would exist as we know them. We are much more connected than we appreciate — Islamification, in a sense, already happened a thousand years ago.

A faculty position on Greco-Roman and Islamic Culture can easily become a very narrowly academic enterprise with little significance beyond a small circle of academics. We may give our work to commercial publishers who restrict access to generate revenue. We may think only of other specialists as our audience. We may even think only of other specialists in European and North American universities with long interacting academic traditions, rather than of those who work with our subject around the Islamic world and who have very different academic traditions. The pressures of academic life push junior faculty to do the safe thing — and the same university that praises diversity and public engagement may make it clear to the junior scholars that they must do what we have long done. Don’t publish open access publications. Don’t think about anyone who will not write you letters to get you tenure. Support diversity — but don’t worry about people whose languages you do not speak, whose publications you (and your reviewers) do not read, and who could not probably get a visa to visit the US anyway.

But then I think of the demonstrators of LEGIDA in my beloved city of Leipzig and I think of the opportunities that this academic position offers. A rising scholar can now hope to have a far wider and more compelling impact upon intellectual life beyond specialist publications. The tools are there — but using them requires a decision and even a bit of courage for researchers anxious to survive, much less change the world, however slightly, for the better. Lectures about the close connections between Greco-Roman and Islamic Culture may not quiet the fears of anti-Islamic demonstrations, just as it does little good for an individual to stop smoking when lung cancer has progressed too far. Fear and violence can deliver rapid results. Education takes time and its consequences are far harder to identify than shouting crowds, a drone strike or a wound from an AK 47. I am proud to be part of a department and a university where we have the chance to hire someone whose position demonstrates that we see beyond Greek and Latin as the sole classical languages. And those of us who do primarily focus upon these two languages of European cultural heritage can reinvent our ancient field to contribute within the globally linked and rich chorus of cultures that we can embrace in this century.

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Samuel H. Kress Foundation grant awarded to Perseids for the Digital Milliet

The Perseids team is delighted to announce a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation ( for the Digital Milliet. The Samuel H. Kress Foundation devotes its resources to advancing the history, conservation, and enjoyment of the vast heritage of European art, architecture, and archaeology from antiquity to the early 19th century. We are grateful for the Foundation’s support as we begin our work on this exciting project.

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Perseids Participates in Sunoikisis Europe

The Humboldt Chair of Digital Humanities at the University of Leipzig is starting a Sunoikisis Program in Europe in collaboration with Sunoikisis at the Center for Hellenic Studies. Sunoikisis Europe will be based in Leipzig and will offer courses in digital humanities for students of Greek and Latin. Sunoikisis Europe will run every Spring (starting from 2015) and the program will enroll both American and European students, who will be able to take the courses both remotely and by visiting Leipzig. The Sunoikisis Europe team is led by Bridget Almas, Marie-Claire Beaulieu, Monica Berti, Gregory R. Crane, and Uta Kremer.

The Perseids platform will be used by the Sunoikisis Europe Program.

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Perseus Open Publication Series

October 2, 2014
University of Leipzig, Germany
Tufts University, USA

Initial Call for Contributions:
Greek and Latin Editions
Modern Language Translations
Contributions to the Ancient Greek and Latin Dependency Treebanks.


The Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University and the Open Philology Project at the University of Leipzig announce plans for the Perseus Open Publication Series (POPS), a new venue for open access and open data publications in any format and in any language that the Perseus Digital Library can support. The Perseus Digitary Library attracted 390,000 visitors in August 2014 while its contents are now prominent digital collections for two universities, one in Germany and one in the United States, each of which maintains its own repository. The Perseus Open Publication Series thus provides a visible, non-exclusive publication medium for those who wish their content to reach the widest possible audience and to be preserved as a part of the Perseus Digital Library.

Development of POPS will take place in stages and will ultimately include content in any format and on any subject within the Perseus Digital Library. This initial call is aimed at those who are producing, wish to produce, or who have already produced, well-understood forms of publication such as editions, commentaries, modern language translations, as well as the Greek and Latin Dependency Treebanks, and other resources that shed light upon sources in Greek and Latin and where the content can be reviewed with fairly traditional editorial processes. If you have published a digitized Greek or Latin edition or a new translation on a website or as a PDF file, and if you want to see this work also published as a part of the Perseus Digital Library, please let us know. You can continue to keep making your material available on your website and giving it to others to publish.

We expect the range of materials that we accept to expand in the coming years. We particularly encourage translations, both in English and in other languages — the ability to identify qualified reviewers provides the critical limiting factor on how much material we can assess. We encourage authors to produce their own TEI XML, using materials already in the Perseus Digital Library as templates and we will offer training for the most committed potential contributors and editors in producing EpiDoc TEI XML and/or creating morphological and syntactic annotations of Greek and Latin. This training can take place either at Leipzig or in other countries. We currently support training in Croatian, English, French, German, and Italian, with plans to expand to other languages. Where particularly important material already exists in HTML, Word, PDF or some other format, we will consider helping with the conversion into XML.

New contributions will be published initially as part of a new repository for Greek and Latin textual materials and accompanying annotations, based upon the Canonical Text Services Architecture. The CTS architecture will provide the backend for the next generation of the Perseus Digital Library website.

Our strategy to make the system itself is based upon making all content available under an appropriate Creative Commons license via the web site, while charging for services that make that content more convenient (e.g., a subscription that provides constantly updated versions of the Perseus texts in e-book format). All content and software that we produce will be open and others will be able — as they are already — to create their own versions and services based upon the Creative Commons licenses that authors select. Authors will be free to publish their materials in as many other venues as they choose (e.g., PDF representations of their materials might appear in or ResarchGate) and store their materials in additional repositories.

We have formed a steering committee to accomplish the following goals: (1) to identify potential authors and existing content; (2) to participate actively and constructively in planning the on-going development of the Perseus Open Publication Series.

Those interested in contributing send inquiries here.

Steering Committee (as of October 1, 2014)
Bridget Almas, Tufts and
Alison Babeu, Tufts
Marie Claire Beaulieu, Tufts
Christopher Blackwell, Furman University
Monica Berti, Leipzig
Federico Boschetti, CNR, Pisa
Michèle Brunet, Lyon
Giuseppe G. A. Celano, Leipzig
Lisa Cerrato, Tufts
Harry Diakoff,
Reinhard Foertsch, German Archaeological Institute, Berlin
Greta Franzini, Leipzig (Goettingen, as of 2015)
Neven Jovanovic, Zagreb
Thomas Koentges, Leipzig
Matt Munson, Leipzig
Charlotte Schubert, Leipzig
Neel Smith, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester MA
Simona Stoyanova, Leipzig


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Opening up Classics and the Humanities: Computation, the Homer Multitext Project and Citizen Science

This paper is based upon discussions, especially with Manfred Thaller, at the 2014 Schloss Dagstuhl Seminar on Computational Humanities.

Abstract: Increasingly powerful computational methods are important for humanists not simply because they make it possible to ask new research questions but especially because computation makes it both possible — and arguably essential — to transform the relationship between humanities research and society, opening up a range of possibilities for student contributions and citizen science. To illustrate this point, this paper looks at the transformative work conducted by the Homer Multitext Project (see in particular its blog).

The full text is available here.

Gregory Crane
Universität Leipzig
September 29, 2014

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The Digital Loeb Classical Library — a view from Europe

The full text of “the Digital Loeb Classical Library — a view from Europe,” is available here.

Summary: The Digital Loeb Classical Library has gone live and many students of Greek and Latin are testing it. “The Digital Loeb Classical Library — a view from Europe” considers some of the issues that the new DLCL raises. First, there is the general question of how long the community will support new, proprietary systems, each with their own environment, none releasing their data under an open license, and all incompatible, for all practical purposes, with each other. More generally, this essay explores three issues that the DLCL raises in a European context: (1) the problem of depending upon, and actively supporting, commercial sources of Greek and Latin, especially in Europe, where tax dollars support virtually all professional intellectual life; (2) the problem of using English if we want to reach secondary schools — only about 5% (probably less) of those who study Greek and Latin do so in English; (3) the problem of encouraging students to produce annotations that are keyed to the idiosyncratic page breaks that appear only in the Loeb editions (and thus of implicitly making the Loeb a new standard for citation). Overall, the DLCL is yet another publisher’s portal, solid in implementation and not challenging to use, but dependent models from print, such as monopoly control of content to extract subscriptions and the print page as dominant metaphor.

The study of Greek and Latin needs to build upon what we already can see is possible in a digital space and to move forward if we are to offer a truly competitive discipline to new generations of students and to the general public. Some of the issues and opportunities before us are raised in the call for papers in Greek and Latin in an Age of Open Data, but there are many fora in which to discuss how to move forward. It is time for students of Greek and Latin to get on with it and accelerate the transition to a more open, sustainable and dynamic environment by which to advance the role of Greco-Roman culture in the intellectual life of society.

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