Here's a guest post by Meredith Safran, who guest-edited the current issue of Classical Journal (111.1), dedicated to our Institute and featuring articles by Erin Moodie, Nancy Sultan, Sophie Klein, Mike Lippman, Chris Bungard, Ted Gellar-Goad and Tim Moore, and Sharon James, Tim Moore, and Meredith Safran. The journal is available electronically through JSTOR. Clara Hardy Shaw, of Carleton College, has done informal reviews on her blog: https://classicsblogging.wordpress.com/.
By now, many of the readers of this blog will have received the recent volume of Classical Journal, which features fruits of the 2012 NEH Summer Institute in Roman Comedy in Performance. A little over two years ago, CJ editor Laurel Fulkerson agreed to take a chance on a special issue devoted to exploring the intersection of performance and research into Roman comedy. The initial versions of these papers were presented at the 2013 CAMWS Annual Meeting, in a panel organized by Erin Moodie of Purdue University and Christopher Bungard of Butler University and featuring participants from the NEH Institute. Over the next two years, Laurel and I worked with the authors to develop a kind of “how-to” manual for teaching various aspects of Roman comedy through performance, primarily directed at undergraduates and adaptable to Latin-based and in-translation courses.
The pieces cover a variety of technical and broadly sociological topics, fusing together scholarly research and practical application. Each piece offers both exercises that any teacher—novice or specialist—can try in the classroom and intellectual grounding and objectives for those experiments. In the first half of the volume, Erin Moodie takes on the challenge of preserving the spirit but not the letter of Plautine Latin in creating new translations. Michael Lippman explores the connection between mask and body work in communicating character. Timothy Moore and Ted Gellar-Goad provide a variety of approaches for integrating the sine qua non of Roman comedy, music and meter, into the classroom. Sophie Klein uncovers the significance of silent characters and advocates for making them present in analysis and performance.
Taking off from Sophie’s analysis of the sociological significance of silent characters in comedy, the second half of the volume plays with the dynamics of masters and slaves (Christopher Bungard), the multilayered potential of metatheater to expose power dynamics (Meredith Safran), and the experience of integrating Plautine comedy into a full-fledged reconstruction of a Roman religious festival (Nancy Sultan). These papers are bracketed by an introductory essay by Sharon James, Timothy Moore, and me explaining the genesis and goals of the NEH Summer Institute and the CJ special issue, and a concluding essay that provides a brief history of integrating performance and research since the early twentieth century by Erica Bexley. Erica kindly agreed to join the project due to her own interest in Plautine performance, featured in The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Comedy, edited by Michael Fontaine and Adele Scafuro.
It’s exciting to see the labor of the past several years in print. We all look forward to hearing what happens as people try them out!