Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Cistercian Abbey of Zaraka in Ancient Stymphalia: 2007 Architectural Study

Around 1225, a group of Cistercian monks built a monastery next to Lake Stymphalia, on a spectacular plateau in the mountainous hinterland of ancient Arcadia. Abandoned around 1276, Zaraka provides one of the most interesting specimens of Latin monastic architecture in Greece. Its early foundation--only 20 years after the Latin conquest--places Zaraka at the beginning of a two-century long process of interchange between French and Greek craftsmen. The abbey survives as a romantic ruin; it was first investigated in the 1920s by Scottish architect Ramsay Traquair (who became a founder of McGill’s Architecture School in Canada), French historian Antoine Bon and Anastasios Orlandos (the Viollet-le-Duc of 20th-c. Greece). The abbey sits in the ruins of Ancient Stymphalia (famous in mythology for the slaying of the Stymphalian birds by Hercules), a site that the Canadian Archaeological Institute has been investigating under the direction of Hector Williams. In 1993, Sheila Campbell became Williams' collaborator in the excavation of the abbey. Campbell is the academic secretary of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (University of Toronto,) where in 2004-2005 I had a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship (I'm a proud Licentiate of Mediaeval Studies). Fruitful academic conversations with Sheila Campbell and Hector Williams led to organizing an architectural study season in Zaraka. The team came together with two collaborators. Joseph Alchermes, with whom I had worked closely in the Morea Project, was designing a field school for the architectural studies major at Connecticut College. And Anthony Masinton was a colleague of Ben Gourley, field director at the Stymphalia project. Masinton specializes in 3D modeling and visualization of British Gothic churches. In July 2007, the three of us gathered forces in Zaraka with three students. The results of our project have not been published yet but will contribute to Campbell’s monograph on the site. The short report that follows will appear in the upcoming issue of Mouseion: Journal of the Classical Association of Canada 8 (2008) and should be cited accordingly.

Joseph Alchermes, Kostis Kourelis, and Anthony Masinton

Architectural Survey and 3-D Reconstruction of the Cistercian Abbey of Zaraka in Ancient Stymphalia: 2007 Study Seaso

In July 2007, we conducted an architectural survey of the Cistercian Abbey of Zaraka in order to provide visual documentation and a 3D digital reconstruction of the structure. Built in 1225, the abbey is one of the most important specimens of Latin architecture in Greece. The site was excavated in 1993-1997 under the direction of Sheila D. Campbell (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto). The architectural fabric survives only partially, leaving many unanswered questions on the building’s original form. Our survey hopes to answer some of these questions and revise Anastasios Orlandos’ problematic reconstruction of 1955.

Alchermes (Connecticut College), Kourelis (Clemson University), and Masinton (York University) were assisted by three students (Constance Alchermes, Elizabeth Mandel, and Erin Okabe-Jawdat). In just over a week, the team managed to produce a complete set of profile drawings for all types of architectural blocks scattered throughout the site, as Masinton completed an EDM survey of all the standing walls. The drawings have served as the basis for a digital reconstruction of the architectural members, inserted into the spatial reconstruction. (Fig. 1) Participants in the project also traveled to western Peloponnese to document “Green Man,” a critical figured keystone from the abbey’s ribbed vaulting. “Green Man,” lost for many years, was rediscovered in the Sikyon Museum; the sculpture has recently been moved to the Frankish castle of Chlemoutsi, where it will be displayed in the permanent exhibition of a new Museum of Frankish Antiquities.

The brief but productive field season accomplished four objectives. First, it served as a new field school for Connecticut College’s program in architectural studies. Second, it facilitated a methodological conversation at the interface between traditional surveying methods and new experimental software applications in stereoscopy, geo-rectification, and digital photography. (Fig. 2) Third, the survey provided support to the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation’s digital reconstruction of Ancient Stymphalia, which will be displayed in the Foundation’s new Museum of Traditional Crafts and Environments of Stymphalia. Finally, the most important scholarly contribution of the project came in Masinton’s processing of the data in York. His expertise in medieval architectural analysis and modeling has yielded the first plausible reconstruction of the building: countless hours of data entry have enabled him to generate a realistic visualization of the building with fully user-defined navigation. Masinton will contribute drawings and an interpretive essay to Campbell’s final publication of the site. The reconstruction is available at

The Zaraka Survey season was made possible by the financial support of York University, Connecticut College, and Nicolas Vernicos, a private donor associated with the college.


Fig. 1: Zaraka, reconstructed elevation based on 3D digital model, interior south wall (Anthony Masinton)

Fig. 2: Zaraka, field drawing and photograph, interior south wall (Erin Okabe-Jawdat)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Singular Antiquity 9: Tzortzaki on Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is eye candy capable of seducing even the most serious of academics. Its resemblance to contemporary media (video games, animation, cartoons) makes it useful in teaching heritage to young students. "The Journey through Ancient Miletus" had such pedagogical objectives when displayed in the virtual reality theater of the Foundation of the Hellenic World. This private non-profit cultural organization is funded by Greek businessman Lazaros Efraimoglou, who founded the center in 1993. As its Greek name makes more evident, Κέντρο Μείζονος Ελληνισμού, the organization is committed to the dissemination of a Greater Greece, both chronologically and geographically. Its focus on the Hellenism of Asia Minor, for example, is evident. Given a state monopoly on archaeology, the Foundation of the Hellenic World is idiosyncratic. Virtual reality has been one of its strategic objectives, including the Tholos, an IMAX-type of theater, where a virtual reconstruction of Miletus (in Asia Minor, Turkey) was displayed.

The Foundation's Digital Miletus is the subject of Delia Tzortzaki's essay,
The Chronotopes of the Hellenic Past: Virtuality, Edutainment, Ideology," in Singular Antiquity: Archaeology and Hellenic Identity in Twentieth-Century Greece, ed. Dimitris Damaskos and Dimitris Plantzos (Athens, 2008) pp. 141-161. The article situates virtual heritage in theoretical debates over reality, narrative and ideology. Although a little convoluted in its social-scientific vocabulary (diagrams, cognitive concepts, invented vocabularies), the essay lays out all the ramifications of such a project. Unfortunately, the author does not bring into her essay any comparative material outside of Greece. The most direct examples that come to mind are reconstructions by the Getty Museum (Trajan's Forum) and James Packard (Pompey's Theater). These are examples that have scholarly ramifications with the weight of proof and the risk of criticism. What seems to be missing in the Miletus reconstruction is the element of scholarly authorship and accountability. One nice thing about the Foundation of the Hellenic World is that it has given jobs to a large number of unemployed Greek archaeologists. But as employees, I am afraid that they may have receded too much into the background and lost their voice; but you can't cut the hand that feeds you.

The Foundation of the Hellenic World is currently exhibiting a virtual reconstruction of the Athenian Agora. It would be interesting to hear whether Tzortzaki would disucss Athens differently from Miletus. Unlike Miletus, Athens has been the subject of a long tradition of fantastic reconstructions. Some would argue that modern Athens itself is a virtual reenactment of classical Athens. Leo von Klenze's drawings of the Athenian Agora speak the same language as the virtual reconstruction, except that von Klenze got a chance to materialize Athens (and Munich). Unlike Miletus, Athens has been a phantasmagoric topos. Like Rome and Pompei, Athens enters international dreams (from Neoclassicism to Hollywood). Personally, I find the virtual activities of the Foundation of the Hellenic World slightly unoriginal, mimicking western museums (like the Getty), using expensive computer software (that state organizations cannot afford to pay licenses for) and plugging into visual languages already defined by the discipline of animation (Silicon Valley). The Athenian Agora has been the subject of archaeological investigation by the American School since 1931. John Camp (excavation director) and Richard Anderson (project architect) were consulted in the reconstruction. I would be curious to know about the interface between archaeologist, architect and programmer. But these are issues at the input not the output of virtual reality. Tzortzaki gives us much food for thought for the output.

Digital reconstructions of Miletus or Athens will soon become undermined by the monolith of Google. Just as Google is digitizing every book in the world, it is also venturing into historical reconstructions. Rome is first. For nearly 30 years,
Bernard Frischer (University of Virginia) has been consulting with Google's first historical city. The first version contains 7,000 buildings, 250 of which are extremely detailed (based on 1:1 scale models built at the labs of UCLA). The Rome Reborn project, of course, has its 3D predecessor in the model of Rome at the age of Constantine, housed in the EUR Museum. Unlike digital Miletus and digital Agora, Google's model will be the subject of criticism and improvement. "The great thing about digital technology," said Frischer, is that it can be updated constantly and "supports different opinions." Dissent of opinion about Greece culture does not seem to be the Foundation of the Hellenic World's primary mission. For more information about Google's venture, see Elisabetta Povoledo, "Exploring Old Rome without Air (or Time) to Travel," The New York Times (Nov. 13, 2008), p. C11.

For additional reviews from Singular Antiquity, see here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Teaching Thursday: Student Entitlement

I cannot count the number of times that the word "entitled" has come up when discussing today's students among other academic friends. A new study by Ellen Greenberger et al., "Self Entitled College Students: Contributions of Personality, Parenting and Motivational Factors" Journal of Youth and Adolescence 37:10 (Nov. 2008), pp. 1193-1204, has recently made those sentiments official. The study focused on students at the University of California, Irvine, and was reported by Max Roosevelt, "Student Expectations Seen as Causing Grade Disputes," New York Times (Feb. 17, 2009). Quantified in the language of social science, what seems obvious to many college teachers now has documentation.

Generally speaking, most professors that I know in the Humanities care little about what people in Education have to say; many even find research on teaching to be pseudo-scientific. And I must admit; I have sat through some meetings in search of "rubrics" that were so reductive as to make no viable sense. But last year, I read a book that highlighted the divide between pedagogy in the humanities and social science on education. Derek Bok's
Our Underachieving Colleges (2006) argues that most academics feel that they know what teaching is all about and categorically refuse to consult any of the expert literature. I agree with Bok that our professorial attitude of "we are teachers and know best" is doing us a disservice as we continue to operate on completely arcane assumptions about who our students really are.

Whether derived through soft science or personal experience, the truth of the matter is that entitlement and grade inflation are rampart. "According to the UC Irvine study, a third of students surveyed said that they expected B’s just for attending lectures, and 40 percent said they deserved a B for completing the required reading." The culprits for this attitude are varied and complex. They involve not only standardized testing and aggressive parents, but also academics like us whose eyes are set on tenure (i.e. positive student evaluations) and not on thorny pedagogical questions.

I have no answers here, but I simply want to note that the study has, at least, generated some interesting discussion among fellow academics. What I've learned from this interchange is that the discourse of "entitled" students is geographically limited. My own experiences at Clemson, S.C., corroborate on the regional variation. Many non-academic issues governed student behavior at Clemson, but entitlement (as I've known it in elite East Coast colleges) was not the primary one. I've found that in the South there is still a fundamental respect for the role of the teacher and the inherent value of education. Many of the students may be the first ones in their family to attend college and they fully understand how different the classroom is from life. Clemson students would not assume that my class (and my existence) was simply a vehicle for a good grade that would guarantee something useful, entrance into the professional school of their choice. Being called "sir" was not simply southern politeness, but evidence of true respect for the knowledge that teachers bring to the table.

When I asked Bill Caraher (originator of Teaching Thursday blog), what he thought about the entitlement study, he sent me the following email. With his permission, I decided to post Bill's response below. Bill, I should add, is expanding his Teaching Thursday across the entire University of North Dakota. For a fuller discussion, see Student Expectations in an Age of Anxiety.

Email from William Caraher
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 10:33 AM


The funny thing here is that I never get students complaining about grades! If they don't understand their grade, they'll ask for clarification (which is only fair), but I have never heard a student ever say that they "deserved" a better grade. In fact, I sometimes have to tell the better students that they EARNED their grade... I didn't just give it to them.

It's really a cultural thing, right? I mean, suburban students from the east coast have had everything given to them -- I am one of those people -- but students from more rural backgrounds , they've had to work their entire lives on farms, at the mill, whatever. And even if they haven't had to actually do farm labor, they know that this is expected of people in the community.

And they are fatalistic. They expect things to work out sometimes and not work out other times. So, if they study hard and fail... they see this as no different than working hard on the farm and having a bad harvest. It just happens. Again, it's not to romanticize these students, but society out here is so different.

Finally, they are totally respectful. In fact, the first time I taught Greek history, I almost killed the class... I had them read the Iliad, Herodotus, Thucydides, chunks of Polybius (Polybius!!!), Pausanias, various other stuff. They just kept reading it and this was a mid-level undergraduate course. They kept reading and reading. And they didn't complain until finally, I asked them what they thought about the reading and they finally admitted that it was crushing them. I felt horrible! They assured me, however, that it was not my fault.They just needed to get to be faster readers. I was stunned.

Anyway, it's part of the reason I really like working out here. And it's not just the students. It translates to the community as well. They actually respect you as faculty and intellectuals. They might think you are full of hot air, but they at least recognize that you work for the common good of the state, the community, et c. (This doesn't however translate to good pay, but then again we earn more than most North Dakotans.)

What you need to re-invigorate you is a year out in the NorthernPlains. Although it could cause your head to explode.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

My New Favorite Greek American: Demetri Martin

I must admit. When I learned that Demetri Martin is a fellow Greek American, I became anxious about catching Important Things with Demetri Martin, which premiered on Comedy Central on February 11. Would he be funny or stupid? Would he enter my personal Walhalla of Greek American demigods (populated by David Sedaris and Jeffrey Eugenides)? Or would he be, like most things these days, annoying? I finally caught the first episode and was truly amazed. Demetri Martin has a truly original comic voice, which I can best describe as minimalist; his comedy is smart and youthful (and what I mean by that is simply what I project into some of my juniors: cynical, dead-pan, retroactive, undramatic, almost humorless). One of the most innovative elements of Important Things is a simple and intelligent use of graphics, literally sketch comedy. I was also relieved to hear no ethnic jokes (like the Greek-American darling Angelo Tsarouchas). Martin's "Greekness" was invisible, although it clearly informed his skits on mouse "Creedcide" and on the ancient farmer tan.

Demetri's father was a Greek Orthodox priest. He grew up on the Jersey shore (Toms River), skateboarding on the boardwalk, skewering meat into souvlakis at his family's diner and being an altar boy on Sundays. He went to Yale (specifically to Calhoun College, which Celina pointed out was named after John C. Calhoun, the famous Confederate politician, whose estate became ... Clemson University). Martin's father died of leukemia while he was in college. After two years at NYU law school, Martin quit out of boredom. His comedy career flourished in a pedigree of shows from Jon Stewart's Daily Show Conan O'Brien's Late Night. His talents were first recognized in 2003 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I enjoyed listening to Martin talk about his life and particularly about his Greek upbringing, see interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air (Sep. 24, 2007, repeated Feb. 9, 2008).

For sure, you'll know where to find me on Wednesday nights, 10:30-11:00 PM: glued on the TV, enjoying the smart jokes and drawings of Demetri Martin's minimalist humor.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Plaster Casts and Brutalism

A couple of weeks ago, two friends happened to be involved in a campaign to save the plaster casts of the University of Texas at Austin. Plaster casts were integral to architectural and art-historical education in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Having no utility in contemporary education, these plaster beauties are stored in basements collecting dust. Sadly, many schools and museum are now trying to get rid of their collections because they present an expensive challenge of storage and conservation. I became aware of these simulacra and their sad fate when Jeff Burden, my dear colleague who masterminded Clemson's historic preservation program, arranged to bring a selection from the Metropolitan Museum to our center in Charleston. Burden was targeting particular classical details, Charleston's architecture prototypes. Vassar College has taken pride of its plaster collection, and in 2006 Jacqueline Musacchio (now at Wellesley College) curated a unique exhibition entitled, Copies Casts, and Pedagogy: The Early Teaching of Art and Art History at Vassar College. The death blow for plaster casts was given by the Bauhaus, which immigrated to the United States during World War II, and offered a new pedagogical model. Attention to creativity, craft, invention and experimentation dethroned the values of imitation.

With the completion of Yale's Art and Architecture Building restoration, a confrontation between old and new is once more visible to the public. Yale's architecture building was designed by Paul Rudolph in 1959-63 and represents the developments of Brutalism. Best known for its complex section and its rough concrete textures, this building is relentlessly anti-historical. As one walks inside, however, a number of sculptural quotations emerge on the walls. Elijah Huge, who teaches architectural design at Wesleyan University, turned me on to these spolia. Apparently, Rudlolph rampaged through the Yale Art Gallery's cast collection and explicitly chose plaster copies to engage within his brutalist walls. These modern spolia are interesting because of their old-new, smooth-rough juxtaposition, but they also reveal a subtle historical sensibility in high modernism. The very modernist pedagogy that killed the plaster cast has revamped it in the Yale architecture building as an icon. Displaying plaster (the fake) over concrete (the real) creates a dialectical relationship of thesis-antithesis. If we discover the abstract principles underlying the old figurative art, then old and new will be equated and a dialectic synthesis would be achieved. One set of plaster casts includes the Parthenon's Panathenaic frieze. Another highlights Renaissance sculpture. I once sneaked into the "pit," the central studio space, and discovered a colossal plaster statue of Athena watching over the sleepless students.

My friends from Austin asked me to take some photographs of this arrangement, rarely discussed in Rudlolph scholarship. The images were taken this weekend (on Valentine's Day; after a Valentine's Lunch with my wife and daughter at our favorite Asian restaurant)

Plaster casts hanging on chiseled concrete, overlooking the library space. Louis Kahn's Yale Art Gallery (from which the plaster casts were mined) is seen through the window on the left.

Another dramatic composition of rough and smooth, abstract and figurative.

Detail showing steel clamp holding the plaster attached to the concrete wall.

Detail of Caproni Reproductions stamp. Caproni was an Italian workshop that produced plaster casts in Boston. A fabulous order catalog from 1911 is available on line, P. P. Caproni and Brother, Catalog of Plaster Reproductions from Antique, Medieval and Modern Sculpture: Subject for Art Schools (Boston, 1911)

An exhibition on Paul Rudolph's work is currently on display inside the renovated building. Model City: Building and Projects by Paul Rudolph was curated by Timothy Rohan (UMass, Amherst). A webcast of Rohan's lecture at the Library of Congress can be seen here. The exhibit highlights other masterpieces in New Haven, like the Temple Street Parking Garage (my favorite garage in the world) and Crawford Manor, which became Robert Venturi's foil to his own Guild House in
Learning from Las Vegas (1972). My favorite exhibit was Rudolph's own house in New Haven. Rudolph was dean of architecture at Yale, and in1961 he bought a house on 31 High Street. Rather than raising the building, he preserved the 1850s Italianate structure and added a modernist wing in the rear.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Brooklyn and Jewish Byzantium

When Richard Price's novel Lush Life was published last year, I was intrigued by the author's frequent use of the term Byzantine to describe the Lower East Side in almost every interview. My posting "Byzantium N O W" (April 24, 2008) explored those issues. Reading William Styron's Sophie's Choice (1979), I am discovering that the literary tradition that associates Byzantium with Jewish New York has some precedent. After getting fired from his Manhattan job at McGraw-Hill, an aspiring southern writer finds himself on Flatbush Avenue. The year is 1947 and, with Styron's sharp autobiographical prose, Brooklyn comes to life as a Jewish enclave, a foreign land to Calvinist sensibilities. Stingo, the hero, rents a pink room from Mrs. Yetta Zimmerman. After enumerating the contents of his apartment, he extends his attention to the names of his neighbors.

"Each name had been affixed on small cards by the orderly Yetta...Nathan Landau, Lillian Grossman, Morris Fink, Sophie Zawistowska, Astrid Weinstein, Moishe Muskatblit. I loved these names for nothing other than their marvelous variety, after the Cunninghams and Bradshaws I had been brought up with. Muskatblit I fancied for a certain Byzantine flavor." (Modern Library edition, p. 42).

Styron and Price have animated Byzantium in Jewish New York. Mittel-Europa's Jewish diaspora in the United States seems to have been fashioned by Byzantine flavors, at least from a sensibility already developed by late-19th-c. aestheticism and the Vienna Secession. Roland Lauder's Neue Gallerie in New York makes this particularly relevant, with Jewish tastes explored by Rebecca Mead in the New Yorker profile "An Acquiring Eye" (Jan. 15, 2007). Byzantium passed through the Vienna Secession, whose anti-classicism directed attention further East. Jewish Byzantium is self-Orientalizing. Synagogues of the 1920s heavily capitalize on Byzantine and--shocking to the contemporary viewer--Islamic forms. Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia is my favorite exampe (left). Although surrounded by the devastated urban landscape of North Broad Street, the synagogue still functions; this is where my good friends Nick and Jill got married (and they are now expecting their first child).

I am sure that Brooklyn's Byzantine motifs have been explored in scholarship.
I was simply surprised to see the connection made so literally in both Styron and Price. I have just started Sophie's Choice, and I cannot get over what a satisfying read it is. Particularly amusing is the Jewish condemnation of the South by Nathan Landau, Sophie's temperamental boyfriend (who Morris Fink calls a golem). I have only read the first 100 pages and I'm looking forward to see how the relationship between Stingo and Sophie (a Polish concentration camp survivor) will develop. Luckily, I have not seen the 1982 movie and my imagination has not been tainted by Maryl Streep. I am surprised that the book does not get more attention. Styron's reputation resurfaced in 2008 with the publication of his collected essays, Havanas in Camelot. My favorite essay addresses Styron's friendship with James Baldwin and their realization that both of their grandparents were affected by slavery. In Sophie's Choice, Styron explores slavery in the touching story of Aristide, whose sale provides the financial means for Stingo's life in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cousin Reginald Spells Peloponnesus

Norman Rockwell's "Cousin Reginald Spells Peloponnesus" (left) appeared in Country Gentleman on February 9, 1918. Founded in 1831, Country Gentleman was the oldest agricultural magazine in the U.S. In 1911, it was bought by the Curtis Publishing Company that also published the Saturday Evening Post. The print shows a Harry-Potteresque child outshining his cousins in a spelling bee. I have used this image for its humor when I tell people that my scholarly specialty is actually the Peloponnesus. And how do you spell that? Only cousin Reginald knows. It is interesting that the obscure peninsula of Greece was featured, even indirectly, in the pages of an American agricultural journal at this very moment. We must remember that Greece entered World War I only the summer before this issue of Country Gentleman and three years after the War began. The details of Greece's joining the Allies on June 1917 are interesting. The country was torn between allegiances to the Central Powers by the German-friendly monarch and allegiances to the Entente by the French-friendly Parliament. The French and British navy blockaded the Peloponnesus to support the government of Venizelos and ultimately tip the favor towards the Allies. Rockwell's image remains funny. Why would anyone but a bookish child know how to spell Peloponnesus? After years of working on the Peloponnese, I occasionally have to check myself. Does Peloponnesus have a double "p" or a double "n"? Beyond the humor, however, Rockwell's illustration attests to an event of geopolitical anxiety even to the reader of rural America.

I feel compelled to bring up cousin Reginald because of some welcome comments I received on my
Norman Rockwell and Conn College (Feb. 8, 2009). A typo on the original posting (1967 instead of 1977) made the director of the Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge, Massachusetts ten years older. You can imagine my embarassment when Laurie Norton Moffatt herself caught my mispelling. At that moment, I wished I was more like cousin Reginald. But the saving grace of my typo is that it initiated a conversation that would have not happened if blogging did not connect even so hastily.

I want to post a follow up in the form of a question. What place does an archaeologist of the Mediterranean have in a dialogue with Norman Rockwell? My answer is simple. Beyond the timely reference to Greece in Rockwell's 1918 illustration, I find some deeper affinities between the visual cultures of modern Greece and modern America. Modernism in the United States was an idiosyncratic phenomenon, resisted by the general public. In one of my favorite books about the 1930s,
The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the 20th Century (1996), Michael Denning observes that the tensions between figurative and abstract art developed into a "grotesque" American expression. The United States was frought with a fundamental contradiction. On the one hand, it was the most modern country in the world (and celebrated as such by the European intelligentsia) but, on the other hand, it lacked institutions that respected the role of the intellectual, the bohemian and the avant-garde. In other words American combined ultra-modernity with anti-intellectualism. The realism of Grant Wood or Thomas Hart Benton offered proud resistance to European abstraction (Cubism, etc.). Artists like George Tooker (student of Reginald Marsh) took this resistance into the 1950s. I mention Tooker because he was the recent subject of a retrospective at the National Academy Museum in Manhattan and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The work of Norman Rockwell should not be dismissed as merely commercial illustration. Rather it should figure centrally in the debates over American modernism.

Interestingly enough, modernism in Greece also hang dearly on figurative representation. During the last couple of years, I have been studying the visual documents through which archaeologists communicated their ideas in 1930s Greece. I've been focusing on the work of George V. Peschke, a true trans-national case study. He was born in Austro-Hungarian aristocracy, moved to Greece to practice his fine art, married a Greek, and made his living as an architect and illustrator for American archaeologists. In 1934, he was chief architect at the excavations in Corinth. Peschke was also a member in a Greek artistic association that resisted total abstraction, retaining the recognizability of human form. Although better integrated with French and German artistic traditions, Greeks were also confronted with the very modern media (advertising, posters, magzines) that divided American artistic production into commercial and fine art. Greece's problem in the 1930s was similar to America's tensions but in reverse. Although not the most modern of countries it contained a surplus of intellectuals.

There are many reasons to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. One of them is to contemplate Cousin Reginald, the sudden relevance of the Peloponnesos in world wars, and similarities between American modernity and other modernities. Another reason is to contemplate the relationship between Norman Rockwell and the classical tradition. No better image addresses this issue than Rockwell's own
Saturday Evening Post cover from April 18, 1931.

I look forward to my next visit to Stockbridge and take advantage of the amazing new research possibilities it offers. Almost exactly nine years after my first visit, I have accumulated a whole new set of questions for the artist.

I should also mention that a few months ago, I was at the Atwater Kent Museum in Philadelphia, where my good friends James Ker and Jo Park held their wedding party. Seeing a whole display of Rockwell covers was part of the party's treat. If I am not mistaken, there was once a Rockwell Museum in Philadelphia and its collection was acquired by the Atwater Kent. I must confess that seeing the original magazines on display was such a delightful experience that I developed a bad eBay habit; I have begun collecting old issues of
Collier's and the Post. The covers, combined with the articles, stories, and advertisements, make an incredible collective artifact of modern America.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Teaching Thursday: Norman Rockwell and Conn College

On February 23, 2000, a couple of Greek architectural history grad students specializing in Byzantium took a weekend road-trip up to New England to visit Mass MoCA (which had just opened in New Adams) and the Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge. The prime mover of the trip was Nikolas Bakirtzis who wanted to make a pilgrimage to Norman Rockwell's house. The other traveler (which was I) had grown up in the U.S. and was more derisive of the saccharine Americana projected in Rockwell's utopia. I was much more interested in the high art world, I wanted to see an abandoned mill now housing New York's largest minimalist works (Mass MoCA). Nikolas had grown up in Greece but had spent one year in Urbana-Champaign, while his parents had an academic fellowship at the University of Illinois. At the age of 15, Nikolas fell in love with the America he met, and Norman Rockwell encapsulated for him that experience. I was a little younger when I first met America, but I came to stay; my family had immigrated for good to Columbia, S.C. So, my American experience fermented through puberty and exploded in typical rebellion (e.g. punk rock). As I think through the Punk Archaeology project now (see earlier postings), I realize that punk was just another phase in romanticizing America and deeply rooted in the traditions it subverted. In my most recent definition, punk begins in 1935, but there will be more about that later. As we commemorate Lux Interior, lead singer of the Cramps who died last week, we are reminded that 30s swing and 50s rockabilly gave punk its basic language. See obituary, Ben Sisario," Lux Interior, 62, Singer in the Punk-Rock Era is Dead," New York Times (Feb. 5, 2008), p. A18, and Bill Caraher's posting on Punk Archaeology blog.

I have reason to think about Norman Rockwell almost a decade after my pilgrimage to Stockridge from a new perspective, that of a teacher. The interview of a Connecticut College alumna in, "The Rise of the House of Rockwell," New York Times (by Carol Kino, Feb. 8, 2009, p. AR26), forces me to ask a basic pedagogical question. What
kind of enduring influence can an art history professor have? As a visiting lecturer at Connecticut College, the question is even more specifically localized. Art history's primary goal is to teach young students about the highest forms of art and culture. Vernacular expressions typically fall on the wayside. Even after postmodernism's erosion of the high-low divide, the art history curriculum remains entrenched in the classics. If anything, Connecticut College is exceptional these days because it has managed to incorporate what other programs might consider lesser. Unusual for most departments, for example, is Connecticut College's architectural historian Abigail van Slyck, a renown authority on American vernacular architecture (houses, summer camps, libraries, etc.) She does not supplement some Alberti, Palladio, Ruskin or Le Corbusier specialist, but stands on her own. And the ancient/medieval historian, Joseph Alchermes, studies spolia, decrepit houses in Greece, and other such degradations of the canon. The modernist, Barbara Zabel, studies the machine and assemblages, and the Renaissance specialist, Robert Baldwin, thinks of money, race, gender and music more than connoisseurship. Connecticut College's Art History Department may have not been so inclusive 30 years ago.

Laurie Norton Moffatt, director of the Rockwell Museum, studied art history at
Connecticut College but her experience only negatively encouraged her future career. In the 1970s, art historians had great derision for popular arts and that very scorn galvanized Ms. Moffatt:

"Ms. Moffatt began working there [Rockwell Museum] as a part-time guide in the summer of 1977, between her junior and senior years at Connecticut College, where she was studying art history and Asian studies. From the start she was struck by 'the incredible connection that our visitors had with the paintings,' she said. 'People would be moved to tears. People would be moved to laughter. People would be lined up around the building, waiting an hour to get in.' Yet in her college classes, she said, Rockwell received short shrift. 'If he was even put up on a slide at all, it was with great derision and scorn. It was very galvanizing for me.'"

Moffatt's Connecticut College experience begs the question. What may we be deriding in our curriculum in 2009 that will undercut some future cultural sensitivity? The case with Rockwell has changed dramatically. The turning point happened the year
after my friend and I visited Stockbridge. In 2001, Rockwell entered the bastions of high art when the Guggenheim Museum hosted its first Rockwell exhibition, "Pictures for the American People," co-organized by the High Museum in Atlanta. Yet the question of inclusion has not quite been settled, as it became obvious a few weeks ago with the death of Andrew Wyeth (Jan. 16, 2009). Considered by many to be a populist, Wyeth's figurative style captured the general public but left the art world in ambivalence. The media stunt of the Helga drawings in 1986 and Wyeth's Republican politics did not help his reputation among art circles. Wyeth's death has sparked again the debate between purists and populists (where Norman Rockwell is always implicated). Robert Storr (dean of Yale School of Art) seemed to be pitched against Kathleen Foster (Curator of American Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art) on the airwaves and press.

The high-low art divide was intelligently thematized in a fantastic exhibit at my newest favorite local institution, the New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA). Its
Sanford B.D. Low Illustration Collection prominently displays Norman Rockwell, Stevan Dohanos, J.C. Leyendecker and other illustrators as central to the American canon. In the current exhibition "Double Lives: American Painters as Illustrators 1850-1950," illustrates this very American juxtaposition of high and low art especially by artists who worked on both sides of commerce. Many American painters worked as illustrators in magazines and newspapers. N. C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth's own father, is an important figure in this conflict, best known for his illustrations of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Treasure Island (1911). My personal favorites from the exhibition are a drawing by Maxfield Parrish for Edith Wharton's Italian Villas and Their Gardens (1904), Lyonel Feininger's Kin-der-Kinds cartoon for the Chicago Sunday Tribune (1906) and works by the Philadelphian "Eight," John Sloan, Everett Shinn, and William Glackens (who, I learned from the show, went to my high school). I am thrilled that on March 6, the NBMAA will open a new exhibit, The Eight and American Modernisms, co-organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum and featuring 70 paintings. If you remember from earlier postings, my interest on The Eight began with George Bellows, whose biography was written by Byzantine archaeologist Charles Morgan. I am intrigued that the NBMAA exhibition title has "modernisms" in the plural. My personal discovery of The Eight is also conditioned by the art-historical curriculum. As a student, even in the 1980s, we learned all about European avant-gardes and nothing about American figurative painters.

Perhaps, it is "modernisms" in the plural that today's art history professor can aspire to. Hopefully, our teaching at Connecticut College will positively influence the future curators of American art. Although, I suppose, negative influence goes a long way, as well.

One of the most interesting endeavors spearheaded by Ms. Moffatt at the Rockwell Museum is ProjectNorman, an internet database that will go live in November. In addition to massive digitization, Project
Norman has sought to identify all the people that served as Rockwell's live models. For the 1958 illustration, "The Runaway" (shown above), Clarence Barrett and Eddie Locke have been identified as the sitters. Ms. Moffatt hopes to use Flickr to identify more individuals. Many of the models were from Stockbridge, where Rockwell lived from 1953 until his death in 1978. Rockwell typically took photographs of people and based his paintings on these photos. The paintings then became illustrations. Identifying the live models places attention on the fascinating and convoluted sixpartite chain of media transmission: 1) the all-American individual poses in front of Rockwell's camera, 2) a photograph of that pose is printed, 3) a painting is executed based strictly on the photograph, 4) the painting is photographed into an illustration, 5) the illustration is printed in Saturday Evening Post, McCalls and other magazines, 6) the magazines are shipped by mail to millions of all-American readers back to the reality of Main Street. Speaking as an archaeologist, the materiality of this transmission, tracing it back to the original daily life elevates the illustrative process of American life to the highest chambers of art and theory.

Roland Barthes or Walter Benjamin could really have a field day with ProjectNorman. In contrast, they might have less to say about some contemporary high art. For instance, the most recent exhibition that I saw in the Museum of Modern Art in
New York. Marlede Dumas' retrospective Measuring Your Own Grave left me disapointed. See Peter Schjeldahl, "Unpretty Pictures: A Marlene Dumas Retrospective," New Yorker (Dec. 22, 2008). Dumas has been discussed in relation to figurative artists like Francis Bacon or Lucien Freud; I was interested to see the intersections between the figurative and the abstract. But ultimately, I prefered to see the Francis Bacons downstairs.

A nice treat at the MoMA, however, was a small show on the Esquire covers by my favorite Greek American George Lois. The exhibit focused closely on the steps of manipulation. As in the case of Rockwell, there is a clear sequence of photographing a model and basing an illustration on the photograph. Some of Lois' famous covers include Andy Warhol swimming in a soup can (Esquire, May 1969), or a composite face of Bod Dylan, Fidel Castro, Malcom X, and John F. Kennedy (left, Esquire, Sept. 1965). To read more about the show, see Charles McGrath, "Cover Story: The King of Visceral Design," New York Times (April 27, 2008). Lois, famously created the "I Want My MTV" ad campaign. For further reading, see Lois' book Iconic America (2007), co-authored with Tommy Hilfinger, and Kurt Andersen's interview on Studio 360, "Rosenquist, Still Lifes, Jingles" (Apr. 28, 2008).

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Alison Frantz Studies

In the Spring of 2006, I spent three months at Princeton looking through Alison Frantz's Papers. I focused especially on her correspondence because it revealed the intersection between the realms of aesthetics and of scholarly production. This evidence was crucial in my attempts to reconstruct the cultural environment of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) during the critical juncture in the 1920s when Byzantine archaeology was invented as a discipline. Alison Frantz is a fascinating figure. She was more than the ASCSA's resident expert on all things Early Christian and Byzantine. Between 1933 and 1968, she was also the ASCSA's official photographer, especially at the Agora. Very little has been published on Alison Frantz's life. Sadly, the best biographical sketch is her obituary written by her good friend and neighbor James McCredie, "Alison Frantz: 27 September 1903-1 February 1995: Biographical Memoirs," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 144 (2000), pp. 214-217. Tragically, Frantz was hit by a truck outside her grocery store at Princeton and did not survive. In the last couple of years, I have been looking at Frantz's excavation notebooks and the Administrative Records of the ASCSA. I have been building a richer and richer portrait of the personage. I will not recount all the amazing things that make up the tremendous figure of Alison Frantz.

Last week, I had the pleasure of a telephone conversation with Alexandra Moschovi, a scholar who has spent a couple of months at Princeton also studying the Frantz Papers. Alexandra Moschovi gave a lecture last year, "Tales of Urbanity in Contemporary Greek Photography" (Hellenic Studies, May 6, 2008), and this year, she holds a Seeger Research Fellowship; her topic is "Redefining Greekness in Photographic Representations of Greece: c. 1920s-1970s." I find Moschovi's preliminary conclusions wonderful and refreshing. Unlike people like me, Moschovi actually specializes in photography and teaches in the Department of Photography, Video, and Digital Imaging at the University of Sunderland. I was also thrilled that Moschovi independently arrived at some similar conclusions that I had drawn. Frantz's photographic production is best known for the spectacular prints that she made for archaeological publications. I believe that after her return to the U.S., Frantz self-fashioned herself as a fine art photographer rather than a field photographer. This makes sense, considering that she stopped taking trench photos in 1968. The two major articles on Frantz's photography reflect this loftier body of work: Amy Papalexandrou and Marie Mauzy, "The Photographs of Alison Frantz: Revealing Antiquity through the Lens," History of Photography 27.2 (2003) pp. 130-143, and Andrew Szegedy-Mazak, "Portrait of a Purist,"
Archaeology 48.1 (January/February 1995), pp. 58-64. When Papalexandrou was a graduate student at Princeton, she organized Frantz's Papers, so we owe her a great thanks for her work on the invaluable Finding Aid. I feel lucky to have also become friends with Andy Szegedy-Mazak, who is my wife's colleague at Wesleyan University. Although a classical philologist, Andy also works on the early photography of ancient monuments. He has co-edited Antiquity and Photography: Early Views of Ancient Mediterranean Sites (Getty, 2005), and has contributed to Robert McCabe's Greece: Images of an Enchanted Land, 1954-1965 (2006) . His article on Frantz grew out of an exhibition at Princeton.

Interestingly, Frantz's photo archive is split between Athens and Princeton, with Athens having all the fine photos of classical art and architecture. The archive at Princeton is more inclusive. In addition to works of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine subjects, it also contains personal photos, snap shots, travel photos and other such ephemera. Consequently, it offers a wider view of the artist's personality. Moscovi, it seems from our conversation, has been able to trace slight shifts in Frantz's gaze. Moreover, she has been able to reconstruct Frantz's relationship to Greek photographic circles, personalities and organizations. I am simply thrilled that Frantz's archive will receive the attention it deserves from a photographic specialist.

My relationship to Frantz goes back to 1998. A graduate fellowship in her memory is what made it possible for me to spend a year at the ASCSA and the Gennadeion, without which I would have never pursued my research on medieval Greece. And, as a Byzantinist, I have known Frantz's art-historical scholarship quite well (Holy Apostles Church, pottery, manuscript illumination, etc.) When I started studying Frantz as a person, I felt that my interest was idiosyncratic. In the last two years, I have become gleefully aware that I'm not alone; a diverse group of scholars now shares my enthusiasm. I know that Susan Heuck Allen has been studying Frantz's archive (longer than I have), but I'm not aware of her conclusions. Back in 2007, Bob Pounder had a wonderful idea of co-chairing a session (with Allen) on the secret lives of archaeologists at the AIA Meetings in Chicago. The session was not organized. Despoina Lalaki at the New School of Social Research is giving Frantz a fresh look from the point of view of Cold War politics. Now that Alexandra Moschovi has become a Frantz convert, we have grown large enough to organize a conference, or to pull together a memorial volume on her life. In my ideal world, this is how it would look.

Andrew Szegedy-Mazak, on photographing antiquities
Amy Papalexandrou, on Frantz's fine art photos (esp. Byzantine sculpture, spolia, etc.)
Alexandra Moschovi, on Frantz's changing photographic gaze through contacts in Greece
Robert Pounder or James MacCredie, on the life of Alison Frantz, as they knew her in person
Susan Heuck Allen, on Frantz as an excavating woman
Dimitri Gondicas, on acquiring Frantz's archive and her donations to Hellenic Studies
Kostis Kourelis, on Frantz's domestic space and her house excavations
Despoina Lalaki, on Frantz and the Cold War

I am sure I have missed some people. It was therapeutic for me to make the list if only because it shows a sizeable body of work. Two years ago, I couldn't have done it.

Yves Saint Laurent's De Chirico

Back in the 1980s, Igor Kopytoff wrote an influential essay on the transmission of value when material culture changes hands and becomes a commodity. Although fine art is not what Kopytoff had in mind, I believe that the ownership of a work of art becomes part of the original's cultural biography. In an earlier posting, I considered the significance of a contemporary archaeologist's ownership of an early modern masterpiece, the portrait of Carlo Cirelli by Giorgio de Chirico (1915) belonging to Charles K. Williams, II. Carlo Cirelli will be on display along with Mr. Williams' art collection at a dedicated exhibition in the Philadelphia Museum of Art July-September 2009. On the collection of another important archaeologist, see interview of Colin Renfrew in the Financial Times (Nov. 29, 2008). Renfrew began collecting in the 1950s and developed a taste for contemporary British artists (Andy Goldsworthy, William Turnbull, Barry Flanagan, Richard Long). Renfrew has been a campaigner against the illegal trade of antiquities and naturally owns nothing ancient.

Carlo Cirelli's portrait shows a man with a beautiful mustache and sinuous long fingers. Another De Chirico, also painted in Ferrara three years later, has entered the news (see Economist). Il Ritornate (1918) will go on sale at Christie's on February 23, for an estimated $9-13m. See Christie's auction web-site to read about the work's historical significance. Its last owner was Yves Saint Laurent, who sadly died last summer at the age of 71. With his partner Pierre Berge, he had acquired a spectacular art collection, including works by Leger, Brancusi, Ingres and Gerricault. The entire collection is estimated for $94.8m, perhaps the single largest single-owner sale in auction history. Berge decided to split up the collection for financial and emotional reasons. Half of the proceeds will go to the Pierre-Berge-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation and the other half will go to charity, including medical research on AIDS.

Il Ritornate shows a tailor's dummy and a standing marble male with a long black mustache and sinuous fingers similar to Carlo Cirelli's. The figure is ambiguously petrified with eyes closed. His torso turns into a draped classical female, stomach revealed through the fabric, which hangs below like a Doric column. Il Ritornate becomes particularly moving considering its profession of its owner. As the son of a seamstress, I am drawn into the dreamscape; when my mother's customers came to our home for fittings, they would undress in our very living room. The family was banished for the visit. When the client left and the living room returned to us, the dress would hang freshly warm but inert on the fitting dummy, watching over our daily lives.

It's fortunate that Berge did not take up Abu Dhabi's offer to buy the collection wholesale. It's also fortunate that after the collection disperses, it will survive in the form of a 5-volume catalog with essays by prominent art historians like Yve-Alain Bois.

Finally, archaeologists may be interested in the antiquities that surrounded de Chirico's painting in the Saint Laurent/Berge collection. These have received less attention and include a Roman marble Minotaur (
1st/2nd-c. CE) and an Egyptian bronze Mahes (664-343 BCE), both statues with icongruent heads, thus perfectly in tune with Il Ritornate. As one might expect, sexy male torsos abound (5 total); there is also a head of Dionysus and lots of stunning cameos.


Christie's, Collection Yves Saint Laurent et Pierre Bergé - Sculptures, Objets d'art, Art d'Asie, Archéologie et Mobilier (Paris, 2009)

Igor Kopytoff, "The Cultural Biography of Things: Commoditization as Process," in The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspectives, ed. Arjun Appadurai (Cambridge, 1986) pp. 64-94.

"Scattered to the Winds: The Yves Saint Saurent/Pierre Berge Sale," Economist (January 31, 2009), p. 92.

Ann Marie Schiro, "Yves Saint Laurent, Fashion Icon Dies at 71, New York Times (June 1, 2008).

Sarah Jane Checkland, "My Favorite Things," Financial Times (November 29, 2008).

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

New Griffon 10: Archaeology of Xenitia

I have just received my hard copy of The New Griffon 10, a special issue dedicated to the archaeology of the Greek American experience. I encourage all readers of this blog to order a copy or have their libraries order a copy. The New Griffon is the journal of the Gennadios Library. In Greece, the journal should be available at major bookstores. In the UK and the USA, you can buy the book through the David Brown Book Co. It costs only $15 and I hope it's worth it.

The Archaeology of Xenitia: Greek Immigration and Material Culture, began as a session organized by the Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology in Greece Interest Group of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). The papers were presented on January 2008 at the AIA annual meetings in Chicago. This is the first published work of the Medieval Post-Medieval Group and I'm quite proud of it.

ABSTRACT: Between 1900 and 1915, a quarter of the working-age male Greek population immigrated to the United States, Canada, and Australia. This profound demographic phenomenon left an indelible mark on Greek society, but also created new diasporic communities in the host countries. Greek immigration is a phenomenon of modern trans-nationalism that shares features with other migration stories despite its unique ethnic manifestations. Xenitia, as a historical narrative, has been studied by various disciplines, entering the popular mainstream through movies, comedy, television, academia, museums, and culinary institutions. The historical enterprise of Greek immigration in the 20th century, however, has lacked a significant archaeological voice. In this volume, new archaeological data from Epeiros, Kythera, Keos, the Southern Argolid, and the Nemea Valley highlight the effects of emigration, while data from Colorado, Philadelphia and Sydney illustrate the effects of immigration. Abandoned households were coupled with new foundations, while a fluid transmission of moneys and resources created networks of goods and meanings far more complex than the traditional model of assimilation, economic prosperity, or the melting-pot. Greek archaeology played a double role in constructing native and foreign ideologies, ranging from church foundations in the 1920s Greek community in Philadelphia to film productions for the war relief effort in the 1940s. Finally, we see how excavated ruins inform current narratives of discovery and homecoming in a granddaughters memoir that layers personal and textual lives with a rebuilt house. Such meta-narratives (factual and idealized) reveal deep entanglements between archaeologist and immigrant.

Introduction (Kostis Kourelis)
The Ruins of Engagement: Rural Landscapes and Greek American Immigration (Susan Buck Sutton)
Household Archaeology in Australia and Kythera: Examples of Two-Way Exchange (Timothy E. Gregory and Lita Tzortzopoulou-Gregory)
The Ludlow, Colorado, Coal Miners’ Massacre of 1914: The Greek Connection (Philip Duke)
From Greek Revival to Greek America: Archaeology and Transformation in Saint George Orthodox Cathedral of Philadelphia (Kostis Kourelis)
Exploring the Relationship of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens with the Greek Omogeneia in the 1940s (Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan)
Home Again: The Recreation of a House, and a History, in Epeiros (Eleni N. Gage)
Views on “The Archaeology of Xenitia” from the Patrida (Jack L. Davis).

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Herbert Spencer and the ASCSA

Coinciding with Charles Darwin's 200th birthday, three new books have been published on the scientist's intellectual environment, and reviewed by Christopher Benfey, "Charles Darwin Abolitionist" (p. 11) and Debby Applegate, "Intellectual Selection" (p. 10), NYT Book Review (Feb. 1, 2009),

1) Adrian Desmond and James Moore, Darwin's Sacred Cause: How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin's Views of Human Evolution
2) Adam Gopnik, Angels and Ages: A Short Book about Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life
3) Barry Werth, Banquet at Delmonico's: Great Minds, the Gilded Age, and the Triumph of Evolution in America.

The upsurge of Darwinian scholarship has also brought attention to an almost forgotten theorist, Herbert Spencer (above), whose influence outstripped Darwin's in late-19th-c America. Spencer, who coined the term "survival of the fittest," shared Darwin's principles of competition and adaptation but extended their applicability onto politics. Spencer argued that people developed into characters with inherent social worth; the best emerged at the top and the worst sunk to the bottom. This deterministic model accepted social stratification as natural, matching the competitive notions of capitalism and its lack of compassion for the losers. Industrialists like Andrew Carnegie were devout followers of Spencer and deployed him against organized labor and social reform. As Debby Applegate observes in her review, Spencerism shares some similarities to contemporary notions, "as Americans are reassessing their belief that social progress will grow naturally out of unfettered free-market competition." Interestingly enough, fundamentalist Americans that reject Darwin's evolution today (for Creative Design) have implicitly accepted Spencer's social evolution. In 1882, crowds squeezed into Delmonico's Restaurant in New York to celebrate Spencer as the greatest thinker of the 19th c. The match between the British theorist and his capitalist followers created a capitalist sociology with a long afterlife.

Spencer's incredible popularity in the U.S. makes me think of the mindset that American archaeologists brought to their fieldwork in Greece. Reading through the writing of members of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, for example, has given me hints of Spencerism. In the 1920s, Americans were intellectual lightweights compared to the Europeans. But they did have Spencer. To apply Orientalist critiques on these Americans is, of course, very instructive, but I suspect that we must look also consider the stratigraphy of an evolutionary class. Capitalist Americans did not bring an imperialist sense of superiority (it's too early for that), but an evolutionary superiority applicable to fellow, but poorer, Americans. Modern Greeks like poor Americans had essential character flaws that kept them from progressing. J. Lawrence Angel's essay, "Skeletal Material from Attica," Hesperia 14 (1941), pp. 279-363, suggests an evolutionary perspective, for sure.

In order to make a compelling cultural history of the American School, however, we must do more documentary research. What were the archaeologists reading? How entrenched was Spencerism in the popular notions of the American monied elites? On July 8, 1929, archaeologist Alison Frantz wrote to her mother, "I might stay in Phaleron which is on the sea and only about two miles from Athens. I could play golf and swim in the mornings and read the Decline of the West or go up to Athens and work in the Library, or amble around the Acropolis in the afternoon." (Box 8, Folder 1, Alison Frantz Papers, Princeton University Library). Insignificant as this piece of correspondance may seem, it reveals that Frantz was reading Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West. The rare clue of extra-curricular philosophical readings might illuminate Frantz's own theory of history. Spengler provided a gloomy, pessimistic view of western culture, a critique of money and democracy. Spengler grows out of German idealistic tradition that would have been quite foreign to an American reader. Assuming that Frantz came to Greece with an American Spencerian anthropology, the reading of Spengler would have encouraged its dismantling.

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States