Public Facing Scholarship in Classics in Canada

Coming May 8th at 8:30am (Calgary time!) at the Classical Association of Canada Annual Conference (Calgary May 8–10, 2018)

SESSION 1b, SB 142 (Panel Handout)

Live tweeting of this session is encouraged!  #cacscec2018 & #cacscec1b  Threads will be linked after the conference!

Below are public profiles for each speaker, abstracts for the talks, and links to handouts or presentation slides. NB. Full papers are linked where possible.

Public Facing Scholarship in Classics in Canada/ Le public face à l’érudition en études classiques au Canada

Featuring: Alison Innes, Jaclyn Neel, Aven McMaster, and Rebecca Futo Kennedy.

Chair/Président: Katherine Blouin
Twitter: @isisnaucratis
Blog: Everyday Orientalism
ABSTRACT: This panel will address the topic of public-facing scholarship in Classics in Canada, with the intent of continuing and advancing the ongoing conversations on the subject. What is public-facing scholarship, and why is it important? What are the benefits of public scholarship in Canada today, both to society and to the academics who participate? What are the risks, to individual academics and to universities? What venues, platforms, and modes of public scholarship are available, and what considerations apply when choosing between them? And finally, how can the CAC and individual departments support people who are interested in engaging in public-facing scholarship?

1. "Using Social Media for Public Engagement" Alison Innes, Brock University (slides; Using Academic Twitter handout)
Twitter: @InnesAlison / @BrockHumanities
Blog: and additional documents for talk)
Podcast: MythTake  and  

ABSTRACT: The rise of social media presents scholars with a great opportunity to share our research beyond the academy. Tapping into social media gives us access to broad audiences and allows us to go beyond public relations for our discipline and make our scholarship accessible and understandable to the public. By using social media to engage with the public, we can show the relevance and importance of what we do as academics.
     With so much opportunity and activity happening on social media platforms, how does one create community and space for conversation? This paper will explore ways in which academics can leverage the opportunities presented by social media to build networks beyond academia and engage the public.
     Developing an effective social media strategy requires a number of considerations, including time, budget, platform, content, audience, goals, and risk management. A carefully thought-out plan will improve one’s experience using social media for public engagement and therefore increase the dissemination of academic ideas.
     Academics from a variety of disciplines are already using social media for public-facing scholarship and this paper will examine how strategies such as hashtag ‘games’, AMAs (ask me anything), and live tweeting talks, books, and movies can be used to engage and educate the public. Ro-cur (rotating curator) Twitter accounts and Instagram takeovers are additional ways to expand one’s audience and network.
     Yet another increasingly popular social medium is podcasting, and it lends itself well to making academic research accessible to the public. Podcasting can be useful at several stages of the research life cycle and can take a variety of formats. This paper will conclude by discussing the possibilities podcasting presents for public-facing scholarship. Discussion of specific examples of podcasts will provide a reference point for those wishing to explore the use of podcasting for public engagement.

2. "Lifelong Learning in Cyberspace: Blogging as a Form of Instruction" Jaclyn Neel, Temple University (slides)
Email: /
Twitter: @LibAntiquity
Facebook: Library of Antiquity
Blog: The Library of Antiquity 
ABSTRACT: "Public scholarship" is an elusive term, but one that is often highlighted as a desideratum for "out-of-touch" academics (recently: Shafak 2017; Greif 2015). In this paper, I discuss one way to introduce the public to the practice of conducting high-level academic research: by breaking down the process in a blog. This method has many similarities to teaching, but has the ability to reach much more broadly than the traditional classroom. My presentation will also address some of the difficulties involved in maintaining an active internet presence, including potential solutions that could be undertaken by the CAC or other interested parties: funding for the production of public scholarship, recognition of such activities in tenure and promotion reviews, and increasing incentives for activities beyond the academy. The potential payoff for such activities is great: increasing knowledge of and interest in classics among the general population can lead to increased student participation in classical activities. However, the most critical work of public scholarship is engagement with contemporary concerns, and such engagement comes at a price for academics in non-traditional contracts.

Shafak, E. (14/07/2017). "It is time we stopped denigrating the public intellectual." The Guardian.

Greif, M. (13/02/2015). "What's Wrong With Public Intellectuals?" The Chronicle of Higher Education.

3. "Scholarship Out Loud: Moving Beyond the Lone Academic" Aven McMaster, Thorneloe University at Laurentian (slides)
Twitter: @AvenSarah
Podcast: The Endless Knot Podcast
ABSTRACT: ‘Public-facing’ scholarship does not only mean making scholarship accessible to non-Classicists – it also means making the process of research and scholarship accessible to other academics, allowing for interaction and development before the publication stage, even before the conference paper stage perhaps. This can be scary, but also immensely helpful and valuable to all parties involved and to the field in general, while at the same time generating interest in the ancient world among the general public. There are many ways to use newer platforms and venues to do public-facing scholarship today. In this paper I will discuss two of these that I have personal experience with: Twitter and podcasting. My experience using Twitter for research is that it is an invaluable tool for making connections, finding resources, being inspired and generating ideas, collaborating, and receiving emotional support and encouragement through the writing process. Podcasting about Classical subjects has similarly allowed me to make connections with other academics, but it has also provided a platform for engaging non-Classicists with the ancient world and expanding my reach far beyond the students in my classes. There is also an ever-growing number of other Classics-related podcasts which present a range of formats for engaging people inside and outside of the field, presenting ongoing research, combatting misinformation and misappropriation of Classical material, and amplifying the voices of marginalized, non-traditional, and innovative researchers and teachers in ancient studies.

4. "The Rewards Outweigh the Risks— Advocating for Public Scholarship in an Era of White Supremacy" Rebecca Futo Kennedy, Denison University
Twitter: @kataplexis
Blog: Classics at the Intersections 
ABSTRACT: There are lots of great reasons from someone in a field like classics to engage in public outreach--it increases visibility of the field, helps entice donors to digs, increases the number of students who may want to study it and reduces the number of parents who don’t know what classics is. My own experiences and those of a number of my colleagues in Classics and ancient history (and our Medievalist colleagues), however, have shown the risks as well. The general public that tends to be interested in things Classical is not necessarily the general public that one hopes to attract. While there are good people who took a class or two in college or even did their undergrad in Classics who want to continue to feel connected to the field out of interest, a small subset of the general public interested in Classics is made up white people who view Classics as the core of a“Western Civilization” that is explicitly for and of “white” history or who are openly supremacists and neo-nazis. They appropriate antiquity in a myriad of ways to support their dreams of a “white nation” in the US, Canada, the UK, and other parts of Europe. Public engagement for some of us, as a result, comes with both risks and rewards.
     In this paper, I will discuss the implications of this landscape for doing public scholarship--both the good and the bad--and consider reasons why the rewards outweigh the risks and how we can support our fellow public scholars’ work when confronted by “trolls.” I will do so with reference to both my own experiences and those of academic colleagues both within and without Classics.