Unbalanced Academics, Scribblers, and an “Odd Christmas”

Jack L. Davis, Professor of Greek Archaeology at the University of Cincinnati and former director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (2007-2012), here contributes to The Archivist’s Notebook an essay about the non-archaeological pastimes of some of the School’s most distinguished past members, including Carl Blegen, Emily Vermeule, Rhys Carpenter, Oscar Broneer, and Dorothy Burr Thompson.

Not so long ago I stumbled across an internet site called “The Academic Ladder,” a career counseling service. Its newsletter headlined a story of interest: “Get A Life!  A Chart For Living A Balanced Life (Even If You’re An Academic),” by Gina Hiatt, clinical psychologist.

“Why do academics lead unbalanced lives?”

You can never do enough. The academic life is a writer’s life, only worse. This is because the academic constantly feels that he or she has not done enough. … There is always someone better than you.  Academics constantly compare themselves to each other. … And face it: no matter how good you are at some aspect of a profession or field, there is someone else who does another part of the profession better.

In the long run, this is no way to live a life. You will end up with health problems and not enjoy your career, if you don’t balance your life better.  There is more to life than academia!

Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969)

German philosopher Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969)

While recognizing that academics may not feel they “deserve” leisure time as a “reward,” Gina suggests ways to live more balanced lives by finding things to do, other than work, that are relaxing, fun, and important. Most of us at least are somewhat familiar with the concept (I am constantly being told by loved ones that I should relax more and have more fun), but the notion that leisure time should be filled with important activities is another matter entirely, and brings to mind Theodor Adorno’s 1963 essay “Free Time.” There he succinctly wrote:

Time and again in interviews and questionnaires one is asked what one has for a hobby. … I am startled by the question whenever I meet with it. I have no hobby. Not that I’m a workaholic who wouldn’t know how to do anything else but get down to business and do what has to be done. But rather I take the activities with which I occupy myself beyond the bounds of my official profession, without exception, so seriously that I would be shocked by the idea that they had anything to do with hobbies -that is, activities I’m mindlessly infatuated with only in order to kill time- if my experiences had not toughened me against manifestations of barbarism that have become self-evident and acceptable. Making music, listening to music, reading with concentration constitute an integral element of my existence; the word hobby would make a mockery of them. Read the rest of this entry »


“An Odd Christmas” or the “Christmasless Year of 1923” in Greece

The story that follows was written by the American archaeologist Carl W. Blegen (1887-1971) at an unknown time, most likely to be read at the Literary Club of Cincinnati. It was recently re-discovered by Professor Jack L. Davis of the University of Cincinnati among the papers of Blegen’s close friend and co-digger at Pylos, Marion Rawson.  In his own phlegmatic style, Blegen narrates a major change that took place in Greece exactly ninety years ago: the country’s switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. I thank Jack for sharing Blegen’s manuscript with me.

1923 was a difficult year in the political history of Greece.  In the aftermath of the Asia Minor Disaster in the late summer of 1922, Greece witnessed the influx of more than a million refugees, the abdication of King Constantine, and the establishment of a revolutionary regime by colonels Nikolaos Plastiras and Stylianos Gonatas in September of 1922.  On November 28, 1922, six politicians including two former prime ministers were executed at Goudi, an act that shocked Europe and America.  Blegen had known some of them personally. In July 1923, the Lausanne Treaty delimited the borders of Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria, and by the end of the year, the revolutionary regime of Plastiras and Gonatas was finally able to restore some semblance of political order and lead the country to elections.

1923 was also a tumultuous year in Blegen’s personal life. In January he was engaged to Elizabeth Denny Pierce, who broke the engagement (and his heart) a few months later. That summer and fall found Blegen somewhat disillusioned as he tried to win Elizabeth back, which he eventually did, albeit under certain conditions that would irrevocably alter the course of his life.


“An Odd Christmas” by Carl W. Blegen

“In spite of a reputation for violence, disorder and general lawlessness, the people of the Balkan countries have always been with relatively few exceptions a quiet, respectable, and until recently, a highly conservative folk. Most of them were content to accept what was handed down to them by their fathers, and on the whole they have held soberly and tenaciously to their own local traditions. Especially in matters concerning their religious faith and in the relations between church and State they have stood firmly against the encroachments of the modern age and have usually resisted the introduction of any change. This attitude has been particularly well illustrated in their retention of the old calendar, which to westerners long constituted a chronic and perennial source of difficulty and confusion. For the Eastern Orthodox Church continued stubbornly to adhere to the Julian system through many centuries after the Catholic Church and west European nations had adopted the Gregorian modification. Read the rest of this entry »


Guest Authors

Other authors who have contributed essays to From The Archivist’s Notebook (arranged alphabetically):

Tom Brogan, archaeologist, Director of the INSTAP Study Center for East Crete, and a long-time resident of Greece, writes about his culinary coming of age, from the farms of Indiana and the dormitory food of an English University, to his discovery of (and falling in love with) ethnic cuisines. His recent encounter on the island of Crete with Madhur Jaffrey, the guru of Indian cuisine, prompted Tom to review two of Jaffrey’s cookbooks and his own slow path into the kitchen.
Food and Travel: The Slow Road to Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian and Cretan Kitchen

Jacquelyn Clements holds a PhD in Classical Archaeology from Johns Hopkins University, and is an aspiring photographer. She has contributed to The Archivist’s Notebook a fun essay about living in Greece in the early 1910s. She drew her inspiration from the letters that a young bride, Zillah Pierce Dinsmoor, sent from Athens to her mother in America.
Letters from a New Home: Early 20th-Century Athens Through the Eyes of Zillah Dinsmoor

Jack L. Davis, Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology at the University of Cincinnati and a former director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (2007-2012), frequently contributes essays to The Archivist’s Notebook. Here are some of his essays:
Dollies and Doilies: Priscilla Capps Hill and the Refugee Crisis in Athens, 1922-1941
Communism In and Out of Fashion: The American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the Cold War
Archives from the Trash: The Multidimensional Annie Smith Peck—Mountaineer, Suffragette, Classicist
A Mycenaean “Matter of Fact”: Part II, Joe Alsop’s Greek Bronze Age Archive at the University of Cincinnati
A Mycenaean “Matter of Fact”: Part I, Joe Alsop Reports on the Greek Bronze Age
I Once was Lost but Now I’m Found”: The Search for Missing Archives, Marion Rawson, and the Excavations of the Palace of Nestor at Pylos
Unbalanced Academics, Scribblers, and an “Odd Christmas”
An Archival Paradox, the Expédition de Morée, and a Mysterious Love Affair
Barbarians at the Gate

Vivian Florou studied archaeology and cultural heritage management, and has recently co-edited with Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan and Jack L. Davis, a collection of essays, entitled Carl W. Blegen: Personal and Archaeological Narratives (Atlanta: Lockwood Press 2015). She has contributed two essays: one about  high-society Greek women in the decades between the two world wars and how the traditional festive costumes that they wore on their social outings defined the aspirations of their class; and recently, a second one about Anna Apostolaki placing this remarkable woman in the cultural milieu of the early decades of the 20th century and at the center of the feminist movement in Greece.
On the Trail of a Greek Bourgeoisie Clad in Traditional Garb
Anna Apostolaki: A Forgotten Pioneer of Women’s Emancipation in Greece

Maria Georgopoulou, Director of the Gennadius Library, inspired by the inauguration of the Makriyannis Wing in early June 2018, contributed an essay about the festivities that took place during the dedication of the Library in April 1926.
Blending Two Cultures: The Gennadius Library Dedication in 1926

Alexandra Kankeleit is an archaeologist who specializes in the study of Roman mosaics, has also since 2016 been part of an extensive project of the German Archaeological Institute (Athens and Berlin), titled The History of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens during the National Socialist Era. As part of the project, she has examined a host of bibliographic and archival sources in both countries that document the activities of the German archaeologists in Greece from 1933 until 1944. A list of her most recent publications can be found on Alexandra’s own website.
“The Haughty Arrogance of the Nordic people”: A Scandal in the German Colony of Athens on the 20th of April 1935.

Despina Lalaki holds a PhD in Historical Sociology from the New School university while she currently teaches at the The New York City College of Technology-CUNY.  For the writing of her doctoral thesis, titled “Digging for Democracy in Greece: Intra-Civilizational Processes during the American Century”(2014), Dr. Lalaki made extensive use of the American School’s Administrative Records. Her essay here draws inspiration from an unpublished manuscript by archaeologist Carl W. Blegen, titled “The United States and Greece” and written in 1946-1948.
On Communism and Hellenism: An Archaeologist’s Perspective

John W. I. Lee, Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, contributed an essay about John W. Gilbert, the first African-American student to participate in the Regular Program of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) in 1890-1891. Lee is writing a book about John Wesley Gilbert, the early history of the ASCSA, and the development of archaeology in Greece.
An African American Pioneer in Greece: John Wesley Gilbert and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1890-1891

Clayton M. Lehmann, Professor of History at the University of South Dakota, contributed an essay about American college students coming to Greece, as part of study-abroad programs.  Lehmann was a Regular Member of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in 1982/3, lived in Greece while he wrote his doctoral dissertation, and has returned often, three times as the Director of the Summer Session for the American School and regularly since 2005 as one of the professor-captains of the University of South Dakota’s short-term faculty-led study-abroad program “The Isles of Greece!”.
Imagining and Reimagining Greece

Lisabeth Ward Papageorgiou has studied Art History at the Institute of Fine Arts in New York University and has catalogued Homer A. Thompson’s papers and, most recently, Oscar Broneer Papers for the Archives of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. She has contributed to the Archivist’s Notebook an essay about Nancy Mitford’s visit to the Athenian Agora during the reconstruction of the Stoa of Attalos in 1955.
That Unspeakable Stoa

Christopher Richter, an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Hollins University, with research interests in visual and textual narratives, contributed to “From the Archivist’s Notebook” a story about a woman traveler, Gertrude Harper Beggs (1874-1951). Beggs, after attending the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in 1911-1912, published a travel book about Crete in 1915. Richter, who co-teaches travel abroad courses in the Mediterranean with his wife and fellow faculty member, Christina Salowey (ASCSA student 1990-1992), has developed a special interest in past travelogues about Greece and Turkey.
“The Four in Crete”: A Travel Book Leads to an Archival Adventure

Dylan Rogers holds a PhD from the University of Virginia, and he has been Assistant Director at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens since 2015. His essay to “From the Archivist’s Notebook” was inspired by his summer experience at the American School. On hearing that each Summer Session Director is given the title “Gertrude Smith Professor,” he embarked on a quest to find out more about Smith—and to find out what her story exactly was. She must have had a passion for Greece, but why? And in what ways did she spread this love to others?”
Gertude Smith: A Classic American Philhellene
“If a Jesuit should prove not to know Latin we’d better shut our doors!”: Catholic Clergy at the ASCSA, Pt. I
“Anything to restrain the reverend father”: Catholic Clergy at the ASCSA, Pt. II

Betsey A. Robinson, Professor of History of Art at Vanderbilt University, has contributed an essay about the history of the reconstruction of the Lion of Amphipolis in the 1930s and the people who spearheaded it; she also reminded us of recent work by the American School in the area, in 1970. Her essay was based on extensive archival research she conducted in the Archives of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens a few years ago, which resulted in an article entitled “Hydraulic Euergetism: American Archaeology and Waterworks in Early-20th-Century Greece,” in Philhellenism, Philanthropy or Political Convenience? American Archaeology in Greece, ed. Jack L. Davis and Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan (Hesperia 82: 1, special issue), Princeton 2013, pp. 101-130.
The Pride of Amphipolis

Curtis Runnels, Professor of Archaeology at Boston University, has contributed two fascinating essays about unknown moments in Heinrich Schliemann’s life. He is also the author of The Archaeology of Heinrich Schliemann: An Annotated Bibliographic Handlist (Archaeological Institute of America; available also as an ebook from Virgo Books). Runnels, who passionately collects old books, frequently comes across hidden treasures.
How Modern Greek Came to America
“All Americans Must Be Trojans at Heart”: A Volunteer at Assos in 1881 Meets Heinrich Schliemann
Who Went to Schliemann’s Wedding?

 


A PORTRAIT OF A (PAGAN) LADY: MABEL GORDON DUNLAP

In 1897 a young American woman announced in the newspapers her return to Chicago after a year in Europe. “Miss Mabel Gordon Dunlap of Michigan Boulevard, who has been in Europe for a year, will sail for home on Wednesday” (Chicago Inter Ocean, August 15, 1897). The same woman had also made an earlier announcement that she was still in London “spending most of her time at the British Museum” (17 July 1897). While in London she printed a handsome pamphlet, titled “A Critical Study of Sculpture and Painting,” that contained information about her as a teacher and a lecturer, and a summary of two art courses that she was “ready to deliver before ladies’ clubs and schools” in the winter: “A Course of Twelve Lectures on the History & Philosophy of Greek Sculpture,” and “A Course of Twelve Lectures of the History of Painting in Italy.” While in England she had attended lectures by Charles Waldstein, Professor of Fine Arts at Cambridge University (and former Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens), whom she quoted in her brochure: “There are those who make art, there are those who enjoy art, and there are those who understand art.” Dunlap’s courses, fully illustrated with stereopticon views, were designed to help people understand art.

The pamphlet that Mabel Gordon Dunlap published in 1897. ASCSA Archives, Ion Dragoumis Papers.
Read the rest of this entry »

Expat Feasts in Athens on the Eve of the Balkan Wars

One of Zillah Pierce Dinsmoor's letters to her mother, October 1910

One of Zillah Pierce Dinsmoor’s letters to her mother, October 1910.

“Maybe I asked you before, but will you save all my letters, dear, for I may want to use some of the material in them” Zillah Pierce Dinsmoor (1886-1960) reminded her mother a month after her arrival in Greece (Oct. 20, 1910). And because Emma Pierce respected her daughter’s wish, a valuable collection of private correspondence describing the daily life of a young American bride in Athens in the early 20th century has been preserved in the Archives of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA).

This is the second time From the Archivist’s Notebook features an essay about Zillah Dinsmoor.  In February 2014, guest author Jacquelyn Clemens published an account of Zillah’s Greek experience, mining information from her letters. “Students and scholars who study at the American School… have often been accompanied by their spouses, significant others, and children who live with them here in Athens. In the early 20th century, Zillah Pierce Dinsmoor was one of these women who traveled to Athens along with her husband, architect William Bell Dinsmoor” wrote Clemens in her introductory paragraph. (Read J. Clemens,”Letters from a New Home. Early 20th Century Athens Through the Eyes of Zillah Dinsmoor“)  Barely 24 years old (and away from home for the first time), this fashionable young woman from Massachussets wrote long letters once a week to her mother about her new life in Athens. Read the rest of this entry »