Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jogging Empowerment: Kopanos

This posting is a test in transnational academic connectivity. It is the kind of challenge one might encounter in an episode of the Amazing Race, the popular CBS reality show going on its 14th season. I set the challenge for Antiquated Vagaries, a terrific blog documenting the experiences of Katie, an American graduate fellow at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). Antiquated Vagaries has been posting on ASCSA history from research trips to the basement of the Archives, Loring Hall and from oral histories, see Dudes: Stay Out! (Feb. 2), Dinner Table Art (Feb. 20), School Art 2: Edward Lear (Mar. 12), and Happy Anniversary (Apr. 3).

Antiquated Vagaries has also been posting on jogging, see Jogging in Athens #1: The Olympic Stadium (Apr 22). Athens is a rough city for joggers, let alo
ne pedestrians (who are killed by cars and motorcycles on a daily basis). Posting on jogging routes is, thus, extremely helpful to other joggers (I speak from personal experience, having been attacked by dogs on Lykavittos). But from an intellectual point of view, it extends a venerable tradition of Athenian topography. Direct engagement with the modern city has been central to ASCSA's curriculum since the 19th century. Ask any 60-something American archaeologist about Athens, and they will immediately bring up Eugene Vanderpool, the peripatetic master who discovered countless sites through his hikes with students. Moreover, there is a tradition of women archaeologists whose liberation took the form of walking through Greece--without chaperons or native guides, relying solely on their physical endurance, and on their linguistic and cartographic skills. The diaries of Lucy Shoe, Agnes Newhall, Virginia Grace, Allison Frantz, or Eugene Bush Vanderpool are testament to this peripatetic empowerment from the 1920s.

Antiquated Vagaries is the 21st century version of such diaries. Although Athens is a safe city, women are still confronted by patriarchical obstacles, quite literally ... the exposed phallus. Katie describes an empowering incident by fellow Fellows: "... a few weeks ago a teenager chased after two Associate Members with his junx hanging out. To his dismay, one of those girls turned around, chased him down the hill, grabbed him by the hair, and beat the shit out of him until he cried ... a story with a happy ending! All in all, though, jogging in Greece is a pretty safe endeavor, so don't let the creepo's get you down."
Truth be told, that unlike the 1920s, it's only a minority of ASCSA fellows that have enough curiosity about the modern city to venture out of the ASCSA buble today. Kudos to Katie and others for confronting Greek realities face to face and striking a post-colonial victory.

Here is my challenge for Antiquated Vagaries. It's an experiment that hopes to bridge past and present, the U.S. and Greece. In Jogging in Athens #2: The University Run (Apr 23), Katie shows a photograph from the top of Mount Hymmetos. As soon as I saw the photo, I realized that Katie wasn't standing far from Kopanos Hill, where Isadora Duncan, the famous American dancer (above), built a house in 1903. In My Life (New York, 1995, pp. 93), Duncan writes, "The barren hillock, on the same level as the Acropolis, known since ancient times as Kopanos, now belonged to the Clan Duncan. The next step was to secure paper and architectural instruments and make the plans for a house. Raymond found the exact model desired in the plan of the Palace of Agamemnon. He scorned the help of architects, and himself engaged the workmen and the stone carriers." Find My Life
on Google books here

So, my challenge for Antiquated Vagaries is to find the house through jogging. I am not sure if the house survives. Athenian topographer Leta Costakis has told me that the house still exists. The only clues I have for Katie are a few published photographs below. Mind you, I am writing this challenge from Middletown, Connecticut, so I cannot join the search. But perhaps this is the beginning of a new game, an ASCSA version of Geocaching. If you have never heard of the game, here is a clue: "Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment."

Spring has arrived, and the human body reclaims the city through exercise. The human mind also reclaims the past. The Kopanos clues below are images from, D. Duncan, C. Pratl and C. Splatt eds., Life into Art: Isadora Duncan and Her World (New York, 1993), pp. 53, 54, 110.

1 comment:

Katie said...

I accept your challenge!

This'll be fun!

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States