Abstracts of the AIA / APA 2012 Meetings

I had planned to post reviews of the AIA / APA meetings a little more than a week ago, but illness and the preparations for a new semester sapped all my momentum.  I have a lot of material in the queue including December scholarship monthly and the scholarship rolls of 2011 which I hope to roll out in the next two weeks.

The meetings were excellent in many ways.  I heard great  papers related to new research in the Corinthia, but missed many more that I wanted to see.  I caught the Nemea session in time to hear Effie Athanassopoulos’ discussion of excavation  and survey evidence for habitation and agriculture in the Nemea Valley in the 12th-13th centuries; and Jared Beatrice’s and Jon Frey’s fascinating work on Late Antique and Middle Byzantine burials in the Nemea Valley (largely similar life experiences between periods, but males mysteriously outnumber females in the later period by a factor of 2 to 1).  I happened to be at the poster session when Bice Peruzzi and Amanda Reiterman were awarded second place for their work on the potters’ quarter at Corinth.  I include abstracts for all the papers at the end of this post.

The session sponsored by the Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology Interest Group (“Sailing Away from Byzantium”) was excellent in its exploration of the notion of communication and connectivity in its economic, geopolitical, and religious aspects–a theme that I saw covered in many other sessions.  I myself contributed (with Bill Caraher) to a session on peasants.  Our paper on Corinthian peasants in the Classical-Hellenstic, Roman, and Modern periods is available here, and our Powerpoint presentation  here).  The fact that an entire session on “peasants” was a smashing success is some indication that countryside studies are doing well.  If the organizers of the conference thought peasants would not attract crowds (they assigned us to a small room), we were glad to see lines of people out the door trying to get in.

Surprising was that the AIA and APA attendees seem not to have caught the Digital Humanities bug that swept through this year’s meetings of the Modern Language Association and American Historical Association.  Other than one paper session (only 3 papers) related to visual approaches in archaeology and a round table about preparing digital images for publication, no one seemed aware or interested in the big DH.  By contrast, Anthony Grafton, the outgoing president of the American Historical Association, claimed that the introduction of Digital History and Humanities into the meetings of the AHA marked one of the greatest accomplishments of the year, while Stanley Fish in a recent New York Times editorial said the following about DH at the meeting of the Modern Language Association:

So what exactly is that new insurgency? What rough beast has slouched into the neighborhood threatening to upset everyone’s applecart? The program’s statistics deliver a clear answer. Upward of 40 sessions are devoted to what is called the “digital humanities,” an umbrella term for new and fast-moving developments across a range of topics: the organization and administration of libraries, the rethinking of peer review, the study of social networks, the expansion of digital archives, the refining of search engines, the production of scholarly editions, the restructuring of undergraduate instruction, the transformation of scholarly publishing, the re-conception of the doctoral dissertation, the teaching of foreign languages, the proliferation of online journals, the redefinition of what it means to be a text, the changing face of tenure — in short, everything.

Perhaps the digital revolution is still to come for the AIA/APA meetings?  Perhaps most archaeologists and philologists are just not interested?  At the business meeting of the Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology interest group, several academic librarians proposed a session for AIA 2013 on meta-data, which might connect the digital work of technologists, librarians, and archaeologists.  The session for 2013 will be co-sponsored by the Forum for Classics, Libraries, and Scholarly Communication.  It would be interesting to see a session on Byzantine archaeology as one of next year’s DH sessions.

Finally, it was a pleasure to meet people at the meetings who knew of this site.  Thanks to everyone for your interests, and as always, we welcome suggestions for contributions.





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