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Greek and Roman Studies
Project Proposal

Social Justice and Greco-Roman Antiquity Online

Curtis Dozier (Greek and Roman Studies)

Project Description

This Ford Scholar will assist Curtis Dozier (GRST) in developing a proposal for an online platform to provide counter-arguments to the appropriation of the legacy of ancient Greece and Rome by racists, misogynists, and anti-semites. These groups often base arguments for their views on superficial and biased interpretations of antiquity and post these arguments in a variety of online forums. Their views of antiquity are easily refuted but there is currently no venue for scholars of antiquity to respond publically to these arguments. The result is a perpetuation of outmoded and dangerous attitudes toward Greco-Roman antiquity since only one side of the argument is represented in public, online spaces. Our proposed project will address this imbalance by creating and maintaining an online forum where students and scholars can see what kinds of arguments are being made about antiquity and respond to those arguments, and where interested members of the broader public may find and learn about socially progressive interpretations of Greco-Roman antiquity. The department of Greek and Roman Studies has substantial resources to devote to such a project but will nevertheless require various kinds of institutional support (technical, legal, etc); thus the first step is to develop a proposal to the college seeking that support. This proposal will require developing a prototype of the forum with examples of the kinds of arguments we seek to refute and gathering sample refutations from scholars in the discipline.

Anticipated Project Activities

The major goal of the project is to write a proposal for the long-term project for Vassar’s Dean of the Faculty or other relevant officials at the college. Intermediate steps will include identifying a suitable online platform for the project, developing procedures and messaging for the project, determining where online racist/misogynist/anti-semitic arguments about antiquity are frequently made, identifying and initiating relationships with scholars whose research positions them to respond to the misuse of antiquity, researching other comparable projects in other disciplines, and meeting with Vassar officers and/or administrators to understand the proposal process for such a project.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

  • At least one semester of formal study of ancient Greece or Rome (at Vassar or elsewhere)
  • Ability to work independently on a consistent basis
  • Ability to communicate clearly and professionally with scholars from outside of the Vassar community
  • Experience finding, evaluating, and abstracting secondary scholarship in the Vassar library
  • Ability to summarize arguments and restate them concisely
  • Familiarity with a broad range of social media, blogging, and related online platforms
  • Strong commitment to social justice
  • Willingness to seek out and study attitudes that may be triggering or repugnant.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

If the proposal developed this summer is accepted the Ford scholar would be in an excellent position to continue working on the implementation of the project, for example, as a departmental research assistant. This project is also directly relevant to GRST 100: "Reinterpreting Greece and Rome”, a course focused on understanding the different ideological uses to which Greco-Roman Antiquity has been put over time. I will be teaching that course in Spring 2018 and would invite the Ford Scholar to give a presentation on our work to the class. The Ford Scholar will also be making contact with scholars in the discipline at many other institutions that may lead to any number of further opportunities post-graduation.

Project Location

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

May 30, 2017

Project End Date

July 21, 2017