Classics in Crisis? (a.k.a ‘The Discourse’)


As seems to happen every few years in Classics, the discipline seems to undergo a major period of self doubt, self-examination, and self-recrimination. The phenomenon has arisen again, but in the age of Social Media the discussion has not been solely ‘internal’ and has spilled over into plenty of online public venues. What follows is a minimally-annotated, chronologically-ordered account of the current discussion, which seems to have bubbled up in the waning days of 2020 and picked up steam as 2021 went on. This page will be updated as more voices are heard …

What seems to have instigated the current round (for a small number of folks not really in Classics) was a report that a high school teacher in Massachusetts was proud she managed to get the Odyssey removed from her high school curriculum:

… which sparked responses critical of “cancel culture”, e.g.: a piece by Dr Victor Davis Hanson (emeritus professor of Classics, California State Fresno), picked up by various conservative-leaning outlets:

Just so folks are also aware, about the same time, a discussion had started regarding Classics connections to white supremacy movements in the context of reviews of Dr Eric Adler’s The Battle of the Classics among some respected Classics bloggers:

It was in this mini-zeitgeist that Rachel Poser’s piece on Dr Dan-el Padilla Peralta appeared in the New York Times Magazine. It’s a lengthy, detailed piece that can’t easily be reduced to bullet points so it’s basically a must-read:

After that, the deluge: