Towards a History of Women in the Discipline at ASCS 41, Dunedin—28-31 January 2020
AWAWS was delighted to host a special panel session at the 41st Annual Meeting and Conference of the Australasian Society of Classical Studies. Entitled “Towards a History of Women in the Discipline”, the panel was chaired by AWAWS co-founder Dr Rachel Yuen-Collingridge and featured three speakers Natalie Looyer, Candace Richards and Professor Tim Parkin.
Natalie Looyer, from the University of Canterbury, was first to present her paper ‘The Academic Legacy of Miss Marion Steven.’ This was the culmination of Natalie’s wide ranging oral history project on the legacy of the woman who not only founded the Logie Collection, but whose legacy can be measured by the success of her students and who is remembered as a remarkable teacher who shaped the lives of generations of classicists.
Candace Richards, from the University of Sydney, presented (via video link) second on the topic “Beyond the Curator: A history of women at the Nicholson Museum.” In this paper, Candace emphasised the bias that frequently occurs in institutional histories and sought to introduce the variety of roles women often play behind the scenes in museum collections, highlighting just some of the ‘hidden women’ of the Nicholson Museum.
The session was rounded out by Professor Tim Parkin, from the University of Melbourne, with his paper “Beryl Rawson, magna mater”. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Beryl Rawson’s passing (1933-2010), Tim reflected on the significant contribution Rawson made to the establishment of the Roman Family as a subject worthy of study, interspersing his paper with biographical items that highlighted just some of the challenges Beryl personally faced, as well as women across the discipline more broadly, when pursuing an academic career throughout the 20th century.
All three speakers approached their topics from different perspectives engaging different research methodologies fitting the subject at hand. This variety in methodological approaches is an essential component in the development of a ‘history of women in the discipline.’ It is only through intertwining personal biography with analyses of institutional histories, using traditional and non-traditional research methods and assessing the influence that these women had on the generations to follow that a true understanding of the impact women had on the development and teaching of classics, ancient history, archaeology, and beyond can be arrived at.
Throughout the conference, AWAWS was proud to also support an anti-bullying workshop, drinks for members and hold a special meeting in which it launched its new mentoring program. Each of these activities was supported generously by the ASCS which co-sponsored events and facilitated our participation. A special thanks to Dr Daniel Osland, conference convenor, and AWAWS Treasurer, Gwynaeth McIntyre, for their wonderful work organising the conference and for their support for the AWAWS events.
Abstracts from each our of presenters are available in the ASCS41 conference program - https://www.otago.ac.nz/classics/ascs-2020.htm
While women are conspicuous in number and achievement in Australian history, they remain largely unacknowledged and underrepresented in continuing positions and research fellowships in Australasian Ancient World Studies. The absence of any comprehensive history of Australasian women involved in the study of the ancient world contributes to marginalising the impact of women on the discipline.
Alia Astra: A History of Australasian Women in Ancient World Studies was organized by Rachel Yuen-Collingridge and Lea Beness on behalf of AWAWS in an attempt to start charting, compiling and publicising that history. This event was held at Macquarie University on the 26th April 2019 and consisted of a full day workshop followed by a panel discussion open to the public.
The workshop aimed to consolidate efforts to collect and work up data towards a history of Australasian women in Ancient World Studies by bringing together scholars who have worked on, or are undertaking, research on women in the field in Australia and New Zealand. Scholars working on the living or past history of women in the discipline came together to share findings and mapped out a special journal issue dedicated to a history of women in the discipline in the next two years, as well as a five-year strategy for the ongoing effort to collect, archive, and disseminate information on women in the discipline for the future.
The day culminated in a panel discussion, featuring Natalie Looyer, Mary Spongberg and Michelle Arrow and chaired by AWAWS President Lea Beness, which discussed the issues involved in developing a history of women in the field.
Registration for the day included on online survey. Our survey is still available here. If you could not attend but have worked in this area, please still register or email to let us at the AWAWS email address listed above to let us know about your efforts and how you might like to be incolved in the future.
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The contribution made by women to ancient world studies in Australia and New Zealand has often been neglected. Our blog aims to bring you new research and insights into some of these remarkable women.
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