We are honoring tonight Professor Ruth Scodel, the D. R. Shackleton-Bailey Collegiate Professor of Greek and Latin at the University of Michigan, a well-known specialist in Greek literature among Classicists, with research interests from Homer to Greek tragedy and beyond. Professor Scodel was educated as an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, and then went on to earn her doctorate from Harvard University, where she also began her career as an Assistant and Associate Professor of Classics, before moving to her current position her in Ann Arbor in 1984. She has held a number of fellowships and awards as well as visiting appointments in European institutions.
Professor Scodel has published books on a variety of topics, such as Homer and Greek tragedy: I would like to single out here The Trojan Trilogy of Euripides (Göttingen, 1980), Credible Impossibilities: Conventions and Strategies of Verisimilitude in Homer and Greek Tragedy (Stuttgart, 1999), Listening to Homer (Ann Arbor, 2002), and the most recent volume with Douglas Cairns, Defining Greek Narrative (Edinburgh, 2014). But Ruth has interests outside the confines of Greek poetry, as we can see in her volume with Anja Bettenworth, Whither Quo Vadis? Sienkiewicz’s Novel in Film and Television (London, 2008). She has also published books with a more specific focus on the needs of Classics undergraduates, such as her 1986 Bryn Mawr Commentary on Lysias’ Orations 1 and 3 and her Greek Tragedy: An Introduction for Students (Cambridge, 2010). I will not start enumerating the many articles, book chapters or book reviews that Ruth has penned over the years; her philological acumen is well appreciated by anyone reading her work.
During her career at the University of Michigan, Ruth has served her department as chair, but she has also served our profession on a number of committees, most importantly as editor of the Transactions of the American Philological Association (1986-1991) and as a president of our societies, first of the American Philological Association (2007) and then of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South (2015).
There is no doubt then that Professor Scodel has has an illustrious career as a researcher, but I would also like to point her distinction as a teacher of undergraduate and graduate students and as a mentor: she has won excellence in teaching and graduate mentoring awards her at Michigan and his highly praised by her students. They often comment on how they enjoy her classes. A student says: “When reading a text, she has insightful comments and facts about every line, which are engaging and stimulating, and she seems capable of answering any questions, regardless of topic.” Another student comments: “Professor Scodel is incredibly knowledgeable, witty, and delightful as a professor. From being in her classes, I not only learned a lot about Homer, but I also learned many other small life lessons (like the best way to ripen a pear to perfection, for instance). She is truly a role model for a young woman scholar.” Students express their appreciation of Professor Scodel’s candor; as one student says, “Professor Scodel is a rare educator that engages students as peers. Her down-to-earth candor is refreshing in the world of academia, as are her efforts to guide students through the Classics program here at Michigan and to prepare them for life beyond.” Ruth has also fostered the Eta Sigma Phi chapter here at Michigan by holding informal talks with the ESPh cohort, most recently on the “theory of mind” approach to Virgil’s Aeneid.
Finally, let me share with those of you outside of Michigan who may not know this that Professor Scodel is devoted to country dance (English or Scottish Country Dance and American contra), and you should check her website to watch some dances she has composed! Let us all then express our appreciation to Professor Ruth Scodel for her valuable contributions to the field of Classics by honoring her tonight with a Lifetime Achievement Award.