[Humanist] 29.169 pubs: Greek, Latin & digital philology, Germany & US

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Jul 15 22:33:26 CEST 2015

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 169.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Tue, 14 Jul 2015 17:19:17 +0200
        From: Gregory Crane <gregory.crane at TUFTS.EDU>
        Subject: Greek, Latin, and Digital Philology in Germany and the United States - part 2

Part 2: Greek and Latin in the United States and Germany Gregory Crane 
Leipzig and Tufts

Summary: (Full text available at *http://tinyurl.com/px88bjq)
*(Part 1 is available at 

I have now released a draft for part 2 of Greek, Latin, and Digital 
Philology in the United States. This part includes some information 
about Greco-Romans studies in the US, with some comparisons with the 
situation in Germany, and then moves on with a very brief and 
preliminary start for suggestions as how Germany can make itself an 
(even more) attractive location for a research career in this field.

Tables 20 and 21 address the basic size of Greco-Roman studies in the 
United States. There were, according to one survey, 276 departments of 
Classical Civilization in the US in 2012, with 1,410 tenured or tenure 
track faculty. There are 276 US departments of Classical Civilization, 
while the 52 universities that have chairs in Greek, Latin, Ancient 
History or Classical Archaeology would be equivalent to 208 departments 
(if Germany had the same proportion of universities and had a population 
of 320, rather than 80, million). But even if we factor in the differing 
populations, the 200 chairs for Greco-Roman studies in Germany are only 
equivalent to 800 in a US-sized population, whereas there are 1,410 
tenured and tenure-track positions in Departments of Classical 
Civilization in the US. In absolute terms, the 290 tenure-track 
positions (presumably assistant professors) outnumber the 200 chairs in 
Germany. A Professor Doctor in Germany is different, of course, than an 
Assistant Professor who still needs to earn tenure but the American 
system offers more points of entry into the tenure system than there are 
chairs in Germany. There are, I think, a good number of middle level 
positions in Germany but most of these positions offer a guarantee: 
after six years, you’re out and you need a new job. Bad as the the long 
term job market is in the US, it looks a lot better to me when I look 
closely at the situation in Germany.

Tables 22-25 look attempt to identify the business model upon which 
Greco-Roman studies depends. Table 22 clearly identifies at least one 
feature upon which Greco-Roman studies does not materially depend: there 
are only 1.6 graduating seniors per faculty member (perhaps 5 majors, 
assuming a few second semester first year students declare per faculty 
member). Anyone who teaches in a US Department of Classical Civilization 
knows that larger classes, aimed at non-majors, provide the basis upon 
which we depend to justify our positions. I have, however, found no 
statistics on the size of these courses overall — and this deserves a 
major study if we we want to understand the current health and future 
prospects of Greco-Roman studies in the US.

At the same time, the Modern Language Association (Tables 23-25) 
provides us with statistics for enrollments in Greek and Latin: there 
were in fall 2013 still 40,109 students reportedly enrolled in courses 
of Greek or Latin — 28.4 such students for each of the 1,410 tenured and 
tenure track positions. We need to be cautious in assessing these 
numbers — there are almost twice as many institutions reported 
enrollments in Greek or Latin as there are departments of Classical 
Civilization (the MLA states that 512 institutions reported enrollments 
in Greek and/or Latin but AASHD identified only 276 departments of 
Classical Studies), but even if we assume that half the students of 
Greek and Latin are in institutions without departments of Classical 
Civilization, we get about 15 students of Greek and Latin for every 
tenured and tenure-track professor. This reflects a discipline-wide 
commitment to keeping the study of the languages alive.

The MLA numbers also told two stories. First, there was a precipitous 
drop in enrollments between 2008 and 2013 — about 20% for both Premodern 
Greek and Latin (when different ways of classifying Premodern Greek are 
taken into consideration). I think that this surely reflects anxiety 
about the practicality of undergraduate study after the financial crisis 
of 2008. Whether we can reverse these losses or whether this is the new 
normal remains to be seen. But if we consider the figures from 1968 
through 2009, we see substantial (to me, amazing) resilience: despite 
the crises and changes that followed the 1960s, there are about as many 
people studying Greek and Latin in 2009 as there were in 1968. This was 
a huge achievement and something for which the study of Greco-Roman 
culture in the US should take pride. I do think that we will need new 
ideas and new methods to maintain this resilience but I personally think 
that we are poised to grow and expand if we are determined, fearless, 
and judicious. We are poised to reinvent the study of Greek and Latin at 
every level — but that must remain, for now, an assertion and await 
another venue for further discussion. More than 75% of all historical 
language students in the US study Greek or Latin (Table 26) — if smaller 
historical languages (e.g., Aramaic, Akkadian, Sanskrit, Classical 
Chinese) are to flourish, the students of Greek and Latin must design a 
general infrastructure that serves many other languages as well.

Table 27 turns to question of where tenured and tenure-track professors 
of Classical Civilization in the US got their PhDs. I analyzed the 
public web pages for 575 US Assistant, Associate, and full Professors in 
this field. Among 206 faculty at institutions without a PhD program, the 
national composition was very similar to the Professor Doctors of Greek, 
Latin, Ancient History, and Classical Archaeology in Germany. In non-PhD 
departments in the US, 95.6% of the faculty (198 of 206) had US PhDs, 
while 95% (190 of 200) German chairs had PhDs from German institutions. 
When we considered PhDs from other Anglophone and German-speaking 
universities, we accounted for 98% of the faculty in both the US (203 of 
206) and Germany (196 or 200). If you want to become a Professor Doctor 
in Germany or a tenured/tenure-track Professor at a non-PhD US program, 
you had better get a PhD in the US or Germany. You might get one of 
these positions if you get a PhD in an English-language or 
German-language program but I would not count on it.

If we look at the departments of Classical Civilization with (by one 
ranking: http://www.phds.org/rankings/classics) the top-10 PhD programs, 
we find a very different population. Just under two-thirds of the 
Assistant, Associate and full Professors in these departments received 
their PhDs from US program (64.5% 102 out of 158 faculty where I could 
determine the PhD institution) — adding the three Canadian PhDs (pace 
Canada) would get us to almost exactly two thirds (66.5%, 105 out of 
158). Thus, fully one third of all these faculty received their highest 
degree (there was one faculty member who seems only to have received an 
MA) outside of North America. Most of these (33 out of the overall 158, 
21% of the total) came from the UK while two came from Australia.

More than 11% (18 of 158) of these faculty received their PhDs from 
outside the Anglophone world. With 10 departments, this means that each 
department has, on average, one or two faculty members who were trained 
outside the Anglophone world, reflect a very different scholarly 
tradition and (often) maintain deep ties with colleagues in the nations 
where they were trained. For me, the importance of such international 
faculty cannot be overstated — when I was a student, I benefited 
constantly from working with faculty who had not come through the US 
system. Some may view the fact that fully one third of the faculty at 
the highest ranked departments do not have US PhDs as a sign of weakness 
— there are not, in this view, enough good Americans to fill the 
positions. I see this diversity as a strength of the US system. This 
strength may only be practical because the highest ranked departments 
are also the biggest and each can afford to take a chance on one or two 
faculty who might not necessarily flourish in the US system (I know of 
at least one instance where a big department brought a big scholar in, 
knowing he would never fit in — they felt they could afford it).

Table 28 looks quickly at gender balance. The American Academy of 
Sciences report (from which many of the data are drawn) reports that 40% 
of the Classical Civilization faculty are women while women accounted 
for 38% of 582 US faculty members whom I analyzed. The rate for full 
Professors is lower — 33% — but that 33% is still 50% higher than the 
22% of female Professors Doctors in Germany.

The final table (Table 29) summarizes where the faculty I identified got 
their PhDs. I was most interested in the rates for Assistant Professors 
— PhD programs have changed substantially since current Assistant 
Professors chose where to get a PhD, but those departments have changed 
even more since most Associate and full Professors got their degrees.

The final section provides some partial, preliminary, and perhaps 
provocative comparisons between Germany and the US in Classical studies. 
Any student, with a choice of beginning their career in Germany or the 
US and who can manage either German or English, should consider the 
following: data reinforces the more general impression that English 
language scholarship no longer cites non-English scholarship at the same 
level as even a generation ago; there are more permanent jobs in the US; 
the most highly ranked departments have between 15 and 22 faculty 
members and are, arguably, better suited structurally to support a more 
generalized Altertumswissenschaft; if the student does manage to get a 
tenure track job (no easy task), then that person immediately becomes a 
critical member of a(ny rational) department; there is very little 
evidence that people from outside the German speaking world are going to 
win one of two-hundred or so coveted chairs in Greek, Latin, Ancient 
History and Classical Archaeology in Germany.

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