Graduate Education in Classics: A Continuing Conversation....

APA Presidential Forum on Graduate Education in a Changing Profession

Introduction and Opening Remarks

Charles P. Segal, Harvard University, APA President

[From an APA Presidential Forum on Graduate Education in a Changing Profession. For more information on this forum, click here. For information on related initiatives, click here.]

The changing place of Classics in the college curriculum requires us to reconsider how we are shaping future generations of classicists. Should graduate programs, for example, place more emphasis on areas in which future college teachers are likely to offer their bread-and-butter courses and less emphasis on the dissertation as a piece of original research and new contribution to learning? How should our graduate courses respond to the current situation of the job market? The erosion of Latin and of course Greek in the high schools also means that on the whole students now enter graduate school less well prepared in Greek ad Latin and in the modern languages than they had been in the past. How should we address these questions? Should we be willing to allow students to read less in the original languages in return for a broader base in subjects that they will be teaching, like mythology, gender studies, and cultural studies? Should we be encouraging more acquaintance with work in other disciplines, like literary theory, anthropology, psychological theory, feminist studies, which students may be called on to use in their eraly years of teaching in an increasingly diversified and less classically oriented curriculum? And if so, how do we fit these subjects into the graduate curriculum? Are they just added, or made optional, or do we relax other, more traditional requirements to make a place for them? We should overcome an instinctive reaction just to say no and examine the issues with an open mind, remembering that the American PhD began as a Germanic import and was designed a hundred years ago for a very different world of scholarship and teaching. There is a tendency for an established scholar to feel that his or her training should be a model for the next generation: "after all, if I went through it, why shouldn't they?" Obviously there are things that must not be given up, but it is important to examine the issues with an open mind and not to assume that what has been done in the past is right today.