We are starting a new column in Amphora called “Ask
a Classicist.” These would be questions, with short answers
by the board. The first will be a question about
the relationship about despondent and despondeo. Other
suggestions: How does one say “fear of cats”; Has anyone
yet cracked the Etruscan language?; What were
Julius Caesar’s last words?; Is there any truth in the
idea that Vergil was murdered? The answers would be
very short (200-250 words). Questions are welcome.
Some concerns have been raised by the Amphora Board
members (which in turn raise larger concerns around
Outreach endeavors): Wouldn’t it make more sense to
do a column like this somewhere other than Amphora,
such as The Chronicle of Higher Education or an
alumni magazine, where it reaches mostly non-classicists?
We could do more than one version of this column—
one in Amphora that involves more specialized
material, and one that’s aimed at a wider, more general
audience elsewhere. The issue of audience is all-important.
The circulation of Amphora is still largely to classicists,
and even if we extend our reach more broadly in
this area, a lot of people in the profession will still be
reading this and might not fully understand the “outreach”
intent of such a column.
Er ... come on folks. You want to reach non-classicists, you have to do it via the web ... (and if you want to do it by your own website, you have to bring that website into this millennium). This is pretty basic. Do you honestly think that you do outreach via the Chronicle of Higher Education (the mind boggles) or an alumni magazine (which lucky institution gets the column)???? Come on gang ... you're like a bunch of actors putting on a performance behind the curtain. The audience is there, but they don't know YOU are there. Why do you continue to avoid taking full advantage of the web (and, if I may be so bold ... Amphora would be a GREAT publication to take advantage of the print-via-CSS thing I mentioned the other day)? And if you REALLY want to be innovative, why not include a section in that online version that is aimed at kids???? I've decided I won't comment on the final comment in that excerpt, and the implications it has for the committee's beliefs in the intelligence of Classicists nor will I comment on the confusion caused in my own pea-sized brain on the necessity of an 'outreach column' in a publication with a sole purpose of outreach.