Today at Iowa Dept. of Classics: Dr. James McKeown (Univ. Wisconsin-Madison) lectures on “Medicine and Superstition in the Ancient World”

Do not miss today’s University of Iowa Department of Classics Colloquium lecture, “Medicine and Superstition in the Ancient World” by James McKeown, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

The lecture will take place on Thursday, April 17, 2014 from 5:00 – 6:00 PM in 302 Schaeffer Hall on the campus of the University of Iowa.

Medicine and Superstition in the Ancient World by James McKeown

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On Facebook, Fox News, and Intersexuality

I swear, the people at FoxNews aren’t just idiots, they’re proudly ignorant idiots, mocking that which (and those whom) they do not (and refuse to) understand.

Fox News personality Tucker Carlson refers to "intersex...whatever that is".

Fox News personality Tucker Carlson refers to “intersex…whatever that is”.

Facebook recently added additional gender options to its traditionally dichotomous male/female profile preferences. The gender terms provided by Facebook have been known for some time by those studying gender and sexuality, and have been explained to the public by professionals on several occasions.

So you can imagine why it may come as no a surprise to many that numerous pundits at Fox News not only do not know what many of these terms mean, but openly mock them.

Listen to the audio on the movie here.

Let me Google that for you: intersexThese are news people. They are supposedly investigators. So why mock intersexual people (or individuals exhibiting an intersexual condition) by saying on air “whatever that is”, when you can just as easily Google it.

Again, Tucker Carlson saying the words “whatever that is” in reference to intersex individuals is either evidence of incompetence as an investigative journalist, or sheer mockery of intersexuals.

Fox News personality Todd Starnes mocks intersexual individuals.

Fox News personality Todd Starnes mocks intersexual individuals.

And when Todd Starnes, host of the radio program Fox News & Commentary and a regular guest on Fox & Friends, says on Facebook,

“In the beginning God made man and woman…but Facebook decided to improve on the original models.”

or the idiotic

“What if you identify as a pine cone or a chicken or a weed whacker? Facebook doesn’t offer those options.”

and concerning “gender-fluid” individuals, who fluctuate somewhere on the spectrum between male and female, Starnes joked,

“You might want to have a roll of paper towels handy — just in case.”

I shake my head. It’s not news. And it’s a poor attempt at comedy. It’s a feigned ignorance for the purposes of mocking very real persons.

Intersexuals are not hypothetical individuals, and they are far more prevalent than you might think. Depending on the definition, about 1-1.7% of all live births – one or two out of every hundred people you know – show some form of sexual ambiguity, with 1 in 10 of those requiring optional surgery to assign them to a traditional male or female sex category.

I’ve blogged on this issue before. The case of Caster Semenya is but one higher profile example of an intersexual individual being questioned in the public spotlight.

And intersexual individuals are not new. There are photographs documenting intersexual individuals dating almost as far back as photography itself. Hell, the Greeks wrote complete myths about intersexuals in an attempt to explain their (divine) origin.

But it is this continued, deliberate ignorance of the existence of intersexual individuals – and the complete apathy concerning learning about them – that explains why so may religious conservatives (including those at Fox News) make the ignorant arguments they do concerning same-sex marriage. To put it simply, the existence of intersexual individuals implodes all arguments they make both about their opposition to anything but heterosexual marriage, and their claims that individuals choose their sexuality and are not born or “created” that way.

To argue age-old gender related religious arguments like “men are the spiritual leaders” and “women cannot be elders in the church” and “marriage is only between one man and one woman” falsely assumes that all individuals are either male or female. This is simply not the case, whether the Bible acknowledges intersexual individuals or not. Remember, science is not the Bible’s strong suit, and there are many realities of the modern world that the Bible simply does not acknowledge (for instance, that disease is caused by germs and not possession by evil spirits).

Intersexual individuals (formerly called Hermaphrodites after the Greek god Hermaphroditos, the son of Hermes and Aphrodite, who, according to Ovid, fused with a nymph (Salmacis) resulting in his possessing the physical traits of both a man and a woman) are very real individuals who do not fall into the traditional male-female dichotomy. Additionally, intersexual organisms are very common in nature. For example, clownfish (of the subfamily Amphiprioninae) of “Finding Nemo” fame are sequential intersexuals, with all specimens being born initially male, but with the largest fish in the group transforming very naturally into a female for reproductive purposes. (Remember that next time you watch the Disney favorite!)

Again, if you are going to argue that God made people, then God made intersexual people the way they are. (Right? Because “God don’t make no mistakes.”) They certainly didn’t “choose” to be intersexual; they were born that way. And while many intersexual individuals are proud of who they are and of the way they are, many others struggle with acceptance in a society so obsessed with sexuality and sexual conformity (especially to conservative religious traditions).

So tell me, praytell, who can intersexual individuals marry? Can they serve in leadership roles in a church?

These are real questions about real people, and the idiots at Fox News are too ignorant to know what they are, too stupid to look it up, and to bigoted to do anything but laugh at them. There is no excusing it. It is sheer mockery. They mock what they do not (and refuse to) understand because it does not fit their religious right wing narrative.

It is not news; it’s public social mockery of that which is “different” or “outside” and “beyond” the conservative worldview resulting from the religious blinders imposed by the Conservative Evangelical Republican political machine.

Digital Humanities Lecture at University of Maryland entitled “Toward an Archaeological Standard for Digital Imagery”

University of MarylandThe University of Maryland’s Department of Art History and Archaeology, in conjunction with the Michelle Smith Collaboratory for Visual Culture, has invited me to speak on the topic of digital imagery. I’ll be giving a lecture entitled, “Toward an Archaeological Standard for Digital Imagery“.

Title: “Toward an Archaeological Standard for Digital Imagery
Place:
Michelle Smith Collaboratory for Visual Culture (4213A – Art-Sociology Building)
Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Time: 16:00 to 17:30
Abstract:

Photoshopped image of engraving on Jonah ossuary, as reproduced by Dr. Matt Tabor and discussed by Dr. Robert Cargill for its unethical visual manipulation “With the increased use and power of digital imagery tools comes the increasingly frequent manipulation of these images for purposes ranging from humor to advertisement.  Unfortunately, these purposes also include the manufacture of evidence to support revisionist theories of history and religion.

And while fields such as journalism have begun setting standards for acceptable practices concerning the processing of digital imagery, many scholarly fields within the humanities have not yet effectively addressed digital media processing and manipulation.

A rise in frequency of pseudo-archaeological claims made by amateurs employing manipulated digital imagery to support their sensational claims necessitates the immediate establishment of a set of standards and best practices for the use of processed images in academic settings. This talk highlights some recent examples of digital manipulation and offers a set of standards for future use of digital media within the academy that preserves the integrity of the imagery and enhances the credibility of those employing digital media.”

About the Lecturer: Robert Cargill is Assistant Professor of Classics and Religious Studies at The University of Iowa, where he has taught since 2011. He came to Iowa from the University of California, Los Angeles Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. While at UCLA, he also served as the Instructional Technology Coordinator for UCLA’s Center for Digital Humanities. At Iowa, he is part of the Public Humanities in a Digital World cluster of faculty. He also authors an active blog XKV8R, that covers wide-ranging subjects, chief among them ancient archaeology, and digital manipulation and the hazards therein.

Sponsorship: This talk is made possible through support from The Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies, the Department of Art History and Archaeology and the Department of Classics.

Maryland’s full ad is here.

Public Lecture: Dr. L. Michael White Named University of Iowa Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor

Dr. L. Michael White

Dr. L. Michael White is the Ronald Nelson Smith Professor of Classics and Religious Studies & Director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins at the University of Texas at Austin and one of this year’s Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professors at the University of Iowa.

Dr. L. Michael White, the Ronald Nelson Smith Professor of Classics and Religious Studies & Director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins at the University of Texas at Austin, has been named one of this year’s Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professors at The University of Iowa.

Professor White will be offering a public lecture entitled, “A Jewish Community in the Port of Rome: Recent Excavations in the Ostia Synagogue”.

Title
“A Jewish Community in the Port of Rome: Recent Excavations in the Ostia Synagogue”

When
Monday, October 22, 2012 at 6:00 p.m.

Where
140 Schaeffer Hall, University of Iowa

More Info
For more information, download the flyer here.


Dr. White will also give the following additional presentations:

Coffee Hour
4:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 23, 2012
3rd Floor Atrium, Gilmore Hall, University of Iowa

Colloquium
“Solving a papyrological puzzle with MSI: Ordering the fragments of PHerc 1471 (Philodemus’s ‘On Frank Criticism’)
5:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 23, 2012
106 Gilmore Hall

Brown Bag Lunch
“Scripting Jesus: The Gospel Authors as Storytellers”
12:00 p.m., Wednesday, October 24, 2012
3rd Floor Atrium, Gilmore Hall


The Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professors series and lectures are sponsored by:

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The Department of Classics
Center for the Book
Digital Studio for the Public Humanities
The Department of History
The Department of Religious Studies

getting settled into iowa city

Bob, Ros, and Mac

On the porch on the way home from dinner.

the last 4 weeks have been a time of monumental transition and emotion for me and for my family. in the past month, we packed all that we own into storage containers, moved out of our agoura hills condo, moved in with my mom just south of yosemite, experienced the birth of our son, maclaren, loaded all that we own into two moving vans, drove 1800 miles through the california, nevada, and arizona deserts, the utah canyons, over the colorado rockies, across the plains of nebraska, and through the rolling hills of western iowa. we closed on a home in iowa city, moved in, and unpacked. meanwhile, i attended the university of iowa’s new faculty orientation, set up my office (including moving a thousand volumes into my office – motivation enough for a renewed call for e-publishing), met my new colleagues, prepped my courses, learned all (read: some) of the new uiowa policies and procedures, and discovered most of the best places to grab a bite and a cold one. my wife decided to heed some of the doctor’s advice, so she waited precisely one week after maclaren’s birth to get in a car and drive cross-country with my mom and mac to join her father and me in iowa city. since her arrival, it has been an endless barrage of fixing up the yard, painting rooms, changing poopy (sp?) g-diapers, and setting up utilities (including internet at home, so expect a regular return to blogging.)

new state, new city, new time zone, new weather, new baby, new house, new job, new routine. i am thankful for my wife, roslyn, and her amazing ability to be a tireless mother and patient wife at the same time, and for our parents who provided us with support and drove us cross-country. (hint: get walkie-talkies for car caravans; they are invaluable when deciding to exit the freeway at a moment’s notice or when you need the truck at the rear to throw a block on rear-approaching traffic so you can pass the rig in front of you). i am also thankful for my friends, who throughout the entire transition encouraged and joked with me to make the transition bearable.

thank you especially to everyone who commented encouraging words on facebook and twitter while i was tweeting roslyn’s labor. i read those comments to her between breathing and counting, and it really did make all the difference. some made us laugh, which was welcomed relief, but most gave ros the extra motivation to keep going. never underestimate the power of a kind word uttered sincerely to someone in distress, even privately. it makes all the difference in the world.

my new colleagues at iowa are amazing. both departments (religious studies and classics) work together cohesively, share a common goal, and actually know what it is that i do (although ‘digital humanities’ still causes a few more of those colbert-esque raised eyebrows than does ‘second temple judaism’ or ‘archaeology’). they have each taken turns coming by my office and approaching me to chat at department picnics and parties. i look forward to years of production, growth, and fun at iowa. (btw, did i mention that my colleagues are good, fun scholars? it feels good to want to go to work and see my colleagues. it makes the overwhelming parts of a new job that much more bearable.)

iowa city is the best little hidden treasure in the midwest – the perfect combination of an intellectual center, social progress, and traditional emphasis on families and their well-being. i’m proud to be a hawkeye, and to live in the ‘people’s republic’ (as they affectionately are wont to call it) of iowa city, and i hope to contribute my part to the community. for now, i shall indulge in my favorite difference between iowa city and los angeles: i shall walk 5 short minutes (less than the time it used to take me to walk from the $10 per day parking spot allotted to me at ucla to my office) to the bus stop, and take the 10-minute bus ride to my office. my entire new 15 minute ‘commute’ involves no driving, no gas, no tension, and is 45 minutes less than my old, hour-long, one-way drive in los angeles. and to add insult to los angeles’ woeful public transportation injury, my bus pass is $10 per month, meaning i can get to work for a month for the same amount it costs to park (forget the cost of gas and lost time and stress, simply to park) at ucla for a day!

‘it’s not heaven, it’s iowa.’

ok. back to work.

iowa!

Iowa_HawkeyesRoslyn and I (and baby MacLaren) are pleased to announce that we will be leaving California for Iowa this fall. I have accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Classics and Religious Studies with an emphasis in the Digital Humanities at the University of Iowa. We are excited to be headed to Iowa and are thankful to UCLA for the time we’ve spent here. My daughter, Talitha, has given us her blessing. Prof. Tiggens is as of yet undecided.

Moving from UCLA to Iowa means many changes are in store. I hear the weather is a bit different. My school colors change a little from blue and gold to black and gold. I switch from being a Bruin to a Hawkeye. And I’m definitely going to have to redesign my California flag themed web page.

We are excited about the future and moving forward. Thanx again to everyone at UCLA who made the past nine years so wonderful, and to all the friends and colleagues I’ve made over the past few years. I look forward to making new friends and working with my new colleagues in Iowa.

-bc

minimalism exposes so-called ancient greeks too

Scholars admit making up 'Ancient Greece'apparently, the ancient israelites are not the only ones that did not exist. according to a recent article in the onion, the ancient greeks didn’t exist either. in fact, the entire ancient greek culture was a giant hoax.

According to Haddlebury, the idea of inventing a wholly fraudulent ancient culture came about when he and other scholars realized they had no idea what had actually happened in Europe during the 800-year period before the Christian era.

Frustrated by the gap in the record, and finding archaeologists to be “not much help at all,” they took the problem to colleagues who were then scrambling to find a way to explain where things such as astronomy, cartography, and democracy had come from.

Within hours the greatest and most influential civilization of all time was born.

“One night someone made a joke about just taking all these ideas, lumping them together, and saying the Greeks had done it all 2,000 years ago,” Haddlebury said. “One thing led to another, and before you know it, we’re coming up with everything from the golden ratio to the Iliad.”

i enjoyed this one… ;-)

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