A Manifesto on Leadership Study and Training and the Role of the Ancient World

Lightning Over the Akropolis, Aris Messinis _ AFP - Getty Images

My friend and colleague, Mallory Monaco Caterine, asked me to develop a manifesto on leadership study and training, to serve as concluding remarks for the first annual online conference on “Teaching Leaders and Leadership through Classics,” which she was the wonderful program director of. I’m honored by the invitation and share my thoughts here. I welcome your comments.

Art and superpowers: America

A fascinating exhibition is currently being held at the British Museum: “The American Dream: pop to present”.  This exhibit is solely devoted to the medium of printmaking from the 1960s to today (just think of Andy Warhol’s iconic Campbell Soup and Marilyn Monroe prints) and explores significant themes such as the assassination of JFK, the launching of Apollo 11, feminism and racial issues.

“Everybody has their own America, and then they have pieces of a fantasy America that they think is out there but they can’t see…So the fantasy corners of America…you’ve pieced them together from scenes in movies and music and lines from books. And you live in your dream America that you’ve custom-made from art and schmaltz and emotions just as much as you live in your real one.” – Andy Warhol

*Another current exhibition in London on American art is the Royal Academy of Arts’ “America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s”.  This exhibit explores works by artists such as Grant Wood (I’m sure you all know American Gothic), Edward Hopper, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/america-after-the-fall – Make sure you watch the introductory video!

I would also recommend these two podcasts:

https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/article/podcast-america-after-the-fall-art-american-dream – Art of the 1930s American Dream

https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/article/podcast-black-art-and-activism – Black art and activism

Another exhibition devoted to American printmaking (“The American Scene: Prints from Hopper to Pollock”)  was held at the British Museum in 2008:

http://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/news_and_press/press_releases/2008/the_american_scene.aspx *

To begin with, a brief introduction to the significance of whole exhibit:


A good overview of printmaking in postwar America is: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/post/hd_post.htm

To get an idea of some of the techniques used in printmaking, watch Andy Warhol screenprinting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lDVuBGX

America’s Pop Art

As we’ve already discussed in the exhibition on the Russian Revolution, Pop art (or, in the case of Russia, Socialist Realism), diverged from Abstract Expressionism (i.e. the Avant-Garde).  However, as we’ve seen, Pop-Art was no less innovative.  Pop art is, in essence, a form of advertisement – whether it promotes a certain type of commodity or political concept.  Pop artists take inspiration from and the news, consumerism, and the movies.  Their works are highly reflective commentaries on current American politics and culture.  Thus pop art, and especially prints, are extremely significant, influential, and I could even say, educational.

Andy Warhol – “Repetition adds up to reputation.”

10 Screenprints of Marilyn Monroe (1967)


http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/warhol-marilyn-diptych-t03093 – On the Marilyn Diptych (1962) at the Tate Modern

Jackie II (1966)

Why do you think Warhol chose to depict Jackie against a purple surface?

Warhol took a cover of Newsweek (January 27, 1969) to create his own “demonic” portrait of Nixon.

Vote McGovern (1972)

*Now you know the inspiration for Deborah Kass’ pro-Hillary portrait of Trump!

https://news.artnet.com/opinion/ben-shahn-andy-warhol-deborah-kass-trump-hillary-552272 *

Warhol took the cover of the “Little Red Book”, Quotations of Chairman Mao Tse-Tung to create his own portrait of Mao, in reference to Nixon’s 1972 trip to China.

Mao (1972)

*Another contemporary Pop artist, Jim Dine, made an etching of President Johnson and Chairman (leaders of the American and Chinese superpowers, respectively) as a pair of drag queens in 1967.   This was a time, of course, when Johnson was  involved in the Vietnam War and Mao had imposed the Cultural Revolution.

Drag: Johnson and Mao (1967) *

Jasper Johns – “The American flag is a thing the mind already knows.  A thing seen, but not looked at – examined.”

Flag I (1973)

Roy Lichtenstein – Lichtenstein employed the visual image of comic strips for his screenprints.

I Love Liberty (1982) – This screenprint commemorated the 250th anniversary of the birth of George Washington.

Robert Rauschenburg –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m98blDqBhk – Make sure you watch this TateShots video on Rauschenberg!

*The Tate Modern held a recent exhibit on Rauschenberg:


http://www.tate.org.uk/rules-of-rauschenberg/ – “The American Modern Master who rewrote all the rules…” *

Spot (1964) – Notice the image of  Velàzquez’s Rokeby Venus in this print.

Rauschenberg created a series of lithographs devoted to the launching of Apollo 11. He described the 1969 lift off with these words: “POWER OVER POWER JOY PAIN ECSTASY.  THERE WAS NO INSIDE, NO OUT.  THEN BODILY TRANSCENDING A STATE OF ENERGY.  APOLLO 11 WAS AIRBORNE.”

Sky Garden (1969)

White Walk (1970)

Preview from Hoarfrost Editions (1974)

Why do you think a Greek statue from the archaic period is depicted rather than one from the classical period?  Given that the cars are American Classics – a Ford and a Chevy – wouldn’t, say the Doryphoros, be a better fit?

Accident (1963) – Notice an image of baseball one side and an image of Tiepolo’s Time Unveiling Truth on the other.

Signs (1970) – Rauschenberg wrote that this print is “conceived to remind us of love, terror, violence of the last ten years.  Danger lies in forgetting.”

Yvonne Jacquette – Jacquette calls herself  “a portraitist of American cities.”

Tip of Manhattan (1987)

Ed Ruscha – “Art has to be something that makes you scratch your head.”

Ruscha’s work chronicles America’s fascination with “The Open Road” and “California Dreamin'”.



Standard Station (1966)

Hollywood (1968)

Made in California (1971)

Donald Sultan –

Refugees from The Unsentimental Landscape (2004) – Sultan refers here to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Sultan described this print as a timeless image of “refugees wandering in the wasteland.”


The Guerrilla Girls – An anonymous group of radical feminist, female artists devoted to fighting sexism and racism within the art world. The group formed in New York City in 1985 with the mission of bringing gender and racial inequality into focus within the greater arts community. The group employs culture jamming in the form of posters, books, billboards, and public appearances to expose discrimination and corruption. To remain anonymous, members don gorilla masks and use pseudonyms that refer to deceased female artists. According to GG, identities are concealed because issues matter more than individual identities, “[M]ainly, we wanted the focus to be on the issues, not on our personalities or our own work.”

https://www.guerrillagirls.com/ – Check out the official website!

Do Women Have to be Naked to Get into the Met. Museum? (1989) – Notice the influence of Ingres’ 1814 La Grande Odalisque:

The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist (1988) – Very clever!

Which is your favorite line?

Guerrilla Girls’ Code of Ethics for Art Museums from Guerrilla Girls Talk Back (1990) – Again, super clever!

Which is your favorite commandment?


Andy Warhol –

Birmingham Race Riot (1964)

Kara Walker –

no world (2010) – A pun on the phrase “New World”…

Glenn Ligon – Ligon’s artworks examine cultural and social identity through found sources—literature, Afrocentric coloring books, photographs—to reveal the ways in which the history of slavery, the civil rights movement, and sexual politics inform our understanding of American society. Ligon appropriates texts from a variety of literary writers including Walt Whitman, Zora Neale Hurston, Gertrude Stein, and James Baldwin.

*On Ligon’s 2011 AMERICA exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art: http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/GlennLigon

http://www.npr.org/2011/05/08/136022514/glenn-ligon-reframes-history-in-the-art-of-america *

Untitled (I Feel Most Colored When I Am Thrown Against A Sharp White Background) (1990-1991) – Inspired by Zora Neale Hurston’s 1928 essay, How It Feels To Be Colored Me.

Warm Broad Glow (2007)

Warm Broad Glow (2005)

Ligon was inspired by Gertrude Stein’s 1909 novel, Melanctha, in which Stein writes “the warm broad glow of negro sunshine” to describe a black person’s laughter.

Untitled (Condition Report for Black Rage) (2015) – http://ridinghouse.co.uk/publications/135

Enrique Chagoya – Chagoya took Goya’s Los Caprichos: No te escaparás and replaced the young woman with Obama, suggesting that despite the promise of change under Obama, threats are never far away…


Return to Goya no.9 (2010) – Notice the image of a Klu Klux Klansman as a plucked chicken.

http://artinprint.org/article/the-recurrence-of-caprice-chagoyas-goyas/ – On Chagoya’s Goyas

Please share and discuss which are your “favorite” prints from this exhibit! 😉
















Educating Ourselves, Past and Future

“States fail when they cannot distinguish fools from serious men”

τότ’ ἔφη τὰς πόλεις ἀπόλλυσθαι, ὅταν μὴ δύνωνται τοὺς φαύλους ἀπὸ τῶν σπουδαίων διακρίνειν.

-Antisthenes (D.L. 6.5)

In this conference we have covered many aspects of teaching material from the ancient world in a modern context. In the very interesting and productive responses, we have also had discussions about pedagogical issues like transparency. But we have also discussed some questions that trouble me every time I think about “teaching” and “leadership”. Can leadership be taught? (Wait, what is “leadership” to begin with?) Who should learn leadership? Who is qualified to teach it?

If I have not come to any firm answer, my own feelings on the issue are clearer thanks to the debate. And it may bring some solace to know that these questions are not new by any means. At one very basic level, it is clear that, while our political challenges have few solutions, education provides at least one type of response. It is not easy, it is not fast, and it is not always effective. But at least it provides the promise of making a somewhat better world.

Since this conference is ‘virtual’, it will not end, exactly. The talks and the responses will remain available as a type of text. The next few days, however, do provide an opportunity for those of us who have been talking to continue the conversation and for those who have been thinking about it to join in.

Aristotle talks about education in his Politics—both he and Plato (Republic) understand that if we are to examine the type of society we want teleologically, we need to start from the end and go back to the beginning. This is why both philosophers talk about education. According to a later biography of Aristotle, he believed that teachers were more important than parents:

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

“When asked what the difference was between those who were educated and those who were not, Aristotle said “as great as between the living and the dead.” He used to say that education was an ornament in good times and a refuge in bad. He also believed that teachers should be honored more than parents who merely gave birth. The latter give life, but the former help us live well. To a man boasting that he was from a great city, he said “Don’t look at this, but instead who is worthy of a great country.”

ἐρωτηθεὶς τίνι διαφέρουσιν οἱ πεπαιδευμένοι τῶν ἀπαιδεύτων, “ὅσῳ,” εἶπεν, “οἱ ζῶντες τῶν τεθνεώτων.” τὴν παιδείαν ἔλεγεν ἐν μὲν ταῖς εὐτυχίαις εἶναι κόσμον, ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἀτυχίαις καταφυγήν. τῶν γονέων τοὺς παιδεύσαντας ἐντιμοτέρους εἶναι τῶν μόνον γεννησάντων· τοὺς μὲν γὰρ τὸ ζῆν, τοὺς δὲ τὸ καλῶς ζῆν παρασχέσθαι. πρὸς τὸν καυχώμενον ὡς ἀπὸ μεγάλης πόλεως εἴη, “οὐ τοῦτο,” ἔφη, “δεῖ σκοπεῖν, ἀλλ’ ὅστις μεγάλης πατρίδος ἄξιός ἐστιν.”

Image result for ancient greek education

The importance of education was not lost on the—admittedly super-educated—Plutarch who argues that a lack of education is a fatal flaw in leaders. By extension, can we say that fatally flawed leaders are a result from a faulty system of education?

Plutarch, To the Educated Ruler 780a-c

“The majority of kings and rulers are stupid–they imitate those artless sculptors who believe that their oversized figures seem large and solid if they make them with a wide stance, flexing their muscles, mouths gaped open. For these types of rulers seem merely to be imitating the impressiveness and seriousness of leadership with their deep voice, severe glance, bitter manners and their separate way of living: but they are not really any different from the sculpted colossus which is heroic and godly on the outside, but filled with dirt, stone or lead within.

The real difference is that the weight of the statue keeps it standing straight, never leaning; these untaught generals and leaders often wobble and overturn because of their native ignorance. For, because they have built their homes on a crooked foundation, they lean and slide with it. Just as a carpenter’s square, if it is straight and solid, straightens out everything else that is measured according to it, so too a leader must first master himself and correct his own character and only then try to guide his people. For one who is falling cannot lift others; one who is ignorant cannot teach; one who is simple cannot manage complicated affairs; one who is disordered cannot create order; and one who does not rule himself cannot rule.”

Ἀλλὰ νοῦν οὐκ ἔχοντες οἱ πολλοὶ τῶν βασιλέων καὶ ἀρχόντων μιμοῦνται τοὺς ἀτέχνους ἀνδριαντοποιούς, οἳ νομίζουσι μεγάλους καὶ ἁδροὺς φαίνεσθαι τοὺς κολοσσούς, ἂν διαβεβηκότας σφόδρα καὶ διατεταμένους καὶ κεχηνότας πλάσωσι· καὶ γὰρ οὗτοι βαρύτητι φωνῆς καὶ βλέμματος τραχύτητι καὶ δυσκολίᾳ τρόπων καὶ ἀμιξίᾳ διαίτης ὄγκον ἡγεμονίας καὶ σεμνότητα μιμεῖσθαι δοκοῦσιν, οὐδ᾿ ὁτιοῦν τῶν κολοσσικῶν διαφέροντες ἀνδριάντων, οἳ τὴν ἔξωθεν ἡρωικὴν καὶ θεοπρεπῆ μορφὴν ἔχοντες ἐντός εἰσι γῆς μεστοὶ καὶ λίθου καὶ μολίβδου· πλὴν ὅτι τῶν μὲν ἀνδριάντων ταῦτα τὰ βάρη τὴν ὀρθότητα μόνιμον καὶ ἀκλινῆ διαφυλάττει, οἱ δ᾿ ἀπαίδευτοι στρατηγοὶ καὶ ἡγεμόνες ὑπὸ τῆς ἐντὸς ἀγνωμοσύνης πολλάκις σαλεύονται καὶ περιτρέπονται· βάσει γὰρ οὐ κειμένῃ πρὸς ὀρθὰς ἐξουσίαν ἐποικοδομοῦντες ὑψηλὴν συναπονεύουσι. δεῖ δέ, ὥσπερ ὁ κανὼν αὐτός, ἀστραβὴς γενόμενος καὶ ἀδιάστροφος, οὕτως ἀπευθύνει τὰ λοιπὰ τῇ πρὸς αὑτὸν ἐφαρμογῇ καὶ παραθέσει συνεξομοιῶν, παραπλησίως τὸν ἄρχοντα πρῶτον τὴν ἀρχὴν κτησάμενον ἐν ἑαυτῷ καὶ κατευθύναντα τὴν ψυχὴν καὶ καταστησάμενον τὸ ἦθος οὕτω συναρμόττειν τὸ ὑπήκοον· οὔτε γὰρ πίπτοντός ἐστιν ὀρθοῦν οὔτε διδάσκειν ἀγνοοῦντος οὔτε κοσμεῖν ἀκοσμοῦντος ἢ τάττειν ἀτακτοῦντος ἢ ἄρχειν μὴ ἀρχομένου·

It is interesting and telling, however, that later authors of the Roman Empire tend to write much about the virtues and education of a leader and very little about the education of the people as a whole. The early Athenian philosophers talk about the education of the whole community because they know that the community functions as a whole. For Aristotle, this means that leaders must know how to be led:

Aristotle, Politics 1333b

“We are forced to say that there are ways in which leaders and the led are the same, and ways in which they are different. As a result, their education must be both the same and different. For, as people say, one who is bound to lead well should have been led first. And government, as we saw before in the first discourse, is of both for the sake of the leader and for the sake of the led.”

ἔστι μὲν ἄρα ὡς τοὺς αὐτοὺς ἄρχειν καὶ ἄρχεσθαι φατέον, ἔστι δὲ ὡς ἑτέρους. ὥστε καὶ τὴν παιδείαν ἔστιν ὡς τὴν αὐτὴν ἀναγκαῖον, ἔστι δ᾿ ὡς ἑτέραν εἶναι. τόν τε γὰρ μέλλοντα καλῶς ἄρχειν ἀρχθῆναί φασι δεῖν πρῶτον (ἔστι δ᾿ ἀρχή, καθάπερ ἐν τοῖς πρώτοις εἴρηται λόγοις, ἡ μὲν τοῦ ἄρχοντος χάριν, ἡ δὲ τοῦ ἀρχομένου·

The kind of society we want—even if it is a nearly untouchable ideal—should be a result of the way we education our children. To put it another way, the way we educate our children should be a reflection of the type of society we want. As a parent of two young children, when I have observed our elementary classrooms and public discourse about early education, I realize I have so very confidence in our political future because our concerns are mainly about the jobs they will be positioned to acquire. This is, admittedly, a type of teleological thinking. But it is incredibly narrow and it discourages the pursuit of the big questions, the very questions we should be asking of ourselves and our governments.

Plato and Aristotle anticipated some of the best early childhood experts of the 20th centuries by making ‘play’ central to a child’s education. They learn how to function in a society even before they enter school. As I mention in my talk, I worry that we are in part predisposed to an overpowering ruler—the king as father metaphor—because of our experiences as children. We long for that safety and accept imperfect rulers just as we accept and love imperfect parents.

Aristotle, Politics 1336a

“Concerning both arguments and narratives—what sort of tales it is right that children of this age hear—let this be a special concern for those who govern education the men they call Teachers [paidonomoi]. For children should pretend to do all those things which are akin to their later occupations: for this reason it is necessary that children’s games are mostly imitations of things they will attend seriously later in life.”

καὶ περὶ λόγων δὲ καὶ μύθων, ποίους τινὰς ἀκούειν δεῖ τοὺς τηλικούτους, ἐπιμελὲς ἔστω τοῖς ἄρχουσιν οὓς καλοῦσι παιδονόμους. πάντα γὰρ δεῖ τὰ τοιαῦτα προοδοποιεῖν πρὸς τὰς ὕστερον διατριβάς· διὸ τὰς παιδιὰς εἶναι δεῖ τὰς πολλὰς μιμήσεις τῶν ὕστερον σπουδαζομένων.

Plato, Republic, 536e6-537a11

“And I said, “Certainly do not train children in their lessons by force, but have them play so that you will be better able to observe for what type of activity each has inborn ability.”

Then he said, “What you say has logic.”

I replied “Do you remember what we were saying, that it is necessary that children be taken to battle as observers on horseback, and that, if all were safe, they should be brought near to taste the blood just like puppies?”

“I remember” he said.

“Indeed,” I said “in all these practices—in labors, learning, and dangers—whoever appears to be the most suited for them ought to be enrolled in this very number.”

Μὴ τοίνυν βίᾳ, εἶπον, ὦ ἄριστε, τοὺς παῖδας ἐν τοῖς μαθήμασιν ἀλλὰ παίζοντας τρέφε, ἵνα καὶ μᾶλλον οἷός τ’ ᾖς καθορᾶν ἐφ’ ὃ ἕκαστος πέφυκεν.

῎Εχει ὃ λέγεις, ἔφη, λόγον.

Οὐκοῦν μνημονεύεις, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, ὅτι καὶ εἰς τὸν πόλεμον ἔφαμεν τοὺς παῖδας εἶναι ἀκτέον ἐπὶ τῶν ἵππων θεωρούς, καὶ  ἐάν που ἀσφαλὲς ᾖ, προσακτέον ἐγγὺς καὶ γευστέον αἵματος, ὥσπερ τοὺς σκύλακας;

Μέμνημαι, ἔφη.

᾿Εν πᾶσι δὴ τούτοις, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, τοῖς τε πόνοις καὶ μαθήμασι καὶ φόβοις ὃς ἂν ἐντρεχέστατος ἀεὶ φαίνηται, εἰς ἀριθμόν τινα ἐγκριτέον.

One of the finest contributions of this virtual conference is the inclusion of so many different voices and perspectives. We all know how much work these is left to do—but the burden seems a little lighter when we know how many others are leaning into it. Our conversations need to keep focusing on how we engage with these issues at specific junctures (i.e. our courses) as well as on how we can impact education for all ages. If we only worry about engaging with adolescents and adults, we actually make our tasks much harder. As Seneca writes in the Troades,  “The mind unlearns slowly what it has learned over a long time”   (dediscit animus sero quod didicit diu, 633).

Thank you to everyone who presented and commented on this virtual conference. Also, thanks to Mallory, Norman, and John for their tremendous work in organizing it. 

Art and Superpowers: Russia

Art and Superpowers: Russia

Image result for russian revolution flame

Bronze cast of Mukhina’s Flame of the Revolution and a banner proclaiming: “All power to the Soviets”

For the centenary of the Russian Revolution (the October Revolution of 1917 overthrew the Tsarist regime and led to the rise of Soviet Communism), the Royal Academy of Arts held a recent exhibition from February-April 2017, “Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932”, which brilliantly explored the innovative Avant-Garde and Socialist Realism artistic movements.

To begin with, to familiarize yourself with the Tsarist regime, I would suggest you read Massie, S. (1980) The Land of the Firebird: The Beauty of Old Russia, Hearttree Press:

Find it on Amazon here.

*The title of this book, of course, comes from the famous Russian fairytale called “The Firebird”: find it on Amazon here.

In fact, a Berlin newspaper of the 1920s that was popular among Russian émigrés was called Jar-Ptitza (The Firebird) and evoked the nostalgia of pre-Revolutionary Russia:


http://librarium.fr/en/magazines/zar-ptitza *

You can also familiarize yourself with the events of 1917 by looking at these websites:

Russia Great War

Pushkin House

And if you find yourself in London this summer, there’s another exhibition devoted to the Russian Revolution at the British Library, which you can find at this website.

Russia’s Avant-Garde

Russia’s Avant-Garde movement pioneered what we will know today as “modern art”.  Artists such as Malevich, Kandinsky, and Chagall emerged as the forerunners of abstraction.  The medium for abstraction was not just limited to painting, but stretched across a wide range of visual media (e.g. architecture).  In 1918, Malevich said: “The avant-garde of revolutionary destruction is marching over the whole wide world…and on the square of the fields of revolution there should be erected corresponding buildings.”  Malevich developed an artistic mode known as Suprematism – that is, art should no longer depict reality, but rather create a whole world that expresses “the primacy of pure feeling”.  Malevich said: “To the Suprematist, the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling, as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth.”  One of the paintings in this exhibit is indeed titled Suprematism:

Malevich’s most well-known paintings are possibly of his defiant Black Square which he said evoked “the experience of pure non-objectivity in the white emptiness of a liberated nothing”: 


After his arrest in 1927, Malevich was forced to paint in a more “figurative” style (i.e. a style more fitting of Socialist Realism), but even then his figures remained faceless and the background vast – Peasants (1932)

*The Tate Modern held an exhibition devoted to Malevich in 2014. – Make sure you watch the introductory video! *

In his play, Black and White, Kandinsky wrote: “The working class …wants a genuinely free art that serves only beauty…People want the kind of beauty one can’t find in everyday life.”

Horseman. St. George (1915-1916)


Blue Crest (1917)

*As an aside, one of my favorite quotes by Kandinsky is this one:

“Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.” *

Here is an excellent website on Kandinsky.

Chagall wrote: “The Revolution shook me with a full force that overpowered the individual, his essence, pouring across the borders of the imagination and bursting into the most intimate world of images that turn themselves into part of the Revolution.”

Window Over a Garden (1917)

Promenade (1918)

The Tate Liverpool held an exhibition devoted to Chagall in 2013, which you can see here.

Another artistic mode that developed at this time was Constructivism.  Constructivists, such as the architect Tatlin and the photographer/graphic designer Rodchenko, abandoned “traditional visual media – e.g. painting, sculpture- and wanted to “construct art”; they more often than not employed such media as architecture, graphic design, photography, and film.

 Tatlin – Monument to the Third International (1919-1920)

 Tatlin – Letatlin (1932)

 Rodchenko – Pioneer with a Trumpet (1930)

El Lissitzky – The Constructor (1924)

The MoMA also held a recent exhibition on the rise of the Russian Avant-Garde.  Perhaps some of you have even seen this…or make sure you watch some of the introductory videos! This is the link to the site.

Russia’s Socialist Realism

Despite the fact that Socialist Realism, which depicted idealist scenes of Soviet life under Communism, was at odds with the Avant-Garde movement, it was also extremely innovative and emerged as the forerunner of graphic design – what we know today as “pop art”.

SALUTE THE LEADER – The first room you enter in this exhibition bears this very inscription!

In 1918, Lenin announced his Plan for Monumental Propaganda; that is all types of visual media – from monumental art (e.g. columns), paintings and sculpture to posters and slogans to ceramics and fabric – advertised Communist ideology and glorified its leader, i.e. Lenin.

 Brodsky’s Lenin and a Demonstration (1919)

 The Bolshevik (1920)

 Insurrection (1925)

 Brodsky’s Lenin in Smolny (1930)

Notice the use of damnatio memoriae – Trotsky’s portrait is cut out!

*Has anyone read Langston Hughes’ poems about Lenin (“Ballads of Lenin” and “Lenin”)? Or his poem called “Good Morning Revolution”? You can read the poem here. And also here. And another here. *

After Lenin’s death in 1924, Stalin emerged as the leader of the Communist Party.  In 1930, Stalin stated “We are for the withering away of the state, but at the same time we stand for the strengthening of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which represents the most powerful and mighty of all forms of the state which have existed to the present day.”  In 1928, Stalin set out his Five-Year Plans for industry and agriculture (e.g. collective farming).  He repressed the Avant-Garde movement and instead decreed that all art must depict Communist themes (e.g strong workers in factories or on farmers) – if artists did not abide, they would be sent off to the Gulag!  I’m sure you’ve all read Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago…..

The book can be found here.

 Brodsky’s portrait of Stalin

 Portrait of Stalin (c.1930)

In 1922, the Soviet art critic, Boris Arvatov, wrote: “In place of genre, portrait, or still-life artists, let us see artists who are metalworkers, textile specialists, the friends and workers of the great class.  Then art will coincide with productive work, and life for the first time will sparkle in a dynamic torrent of forms that now have significance.”

 Komsomol at the Wheel (1929)

Red Spinner (1930)

Propaganda Glass: “Peace on the Sheds, War on the Palaces”- (1919-1921)

The Revolution Takes Giant Step Forward

*Here is a piece from the Royal Academy – Make sure you read very informative piece!  Wouldn’t you say that the new cover of @TIME is very similar?


There are two other paintings in this exhibition that I’d like to point out.

Yuon’s New Planet (1921):

Is Yuon depicting a new world (Communism’s triumph) or the end of the world?

Filonov’s Formula of the Petrograd Proletariat (1920-1921):

How does this painting reflect elements of both the Avant-Garde and Socialist Realism?

*As an aside, building on this time period and in light of contemporary events dealing with Russia, how many have you read Garry Kasparov’s Winter is Coming?  I would highly recommend it! You can find the book here. *

Please share and discuss which are your “favorite” objects from this exhibit! 😉

Art and Superpowers: Germany

The British Museum’s “Germany: Memories of a Nation”  exhibition (October 2014-January 2015) celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Over 200 objects, ranging from such visual media as coins, prints, paintings, and sculpture, trace both German achievements and tragedies alike.

*Another wonderful exhibit at the BM in 2014 was “Germany Divided: Baselitz and his generation” exploring over 90 prints and drawings of post-war artists (drawings and prints coming full circle: e.g. from Dürer to Gutenberg to the present): http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/germany_divided.aspx *

The title and scope of this major exhibit is an interesting choice.  Why the use of the word “memories” instead of, say, history, art, symbols, or should I even suggest, leadership?  Why the use of the term “nation”?  Why is the time period begin from the Holy Roman Empire onwards? Should not the German victory over the Romans at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9 have been referred to?

Neil MacGregor, former director of the British Museum and curator of this exhibit, provided a BBC Radio 4 series of the same title.  On this programme, you can find an extremely thorough overview of some of the most significant works that were displayed:



I hope you will be able to go through all the objects discussed in this programme, but I would like to point out some of the highlights:

  1. The Brandenburg Gate – Professor Monika Grütters, the German Federal Minister of Culture writes: “It is the national monument.  There is no other that can compare with it.  It is of course the symbol of the Berlin Wall, a world divided into East and West.  And it is at the same time the symbol of the fall of that Wall and of the liberty regained.  It stands for the division of Germany, and the division of the world, into two blocs: two ideas of society.   It reminds us of the loss of freedom; but it is in itself also the great symbol of freedom regained.  It is the international monument of freedom and unity.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04dwckb
  2. Coinage of the Holy Roman Empire –http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04jm9m and http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0278w0p/p0278tpg
  3. On Charlemagne – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04k6rlg
  4. On Dürer (of Hungarian origin!) – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04k6scv
  5. On Holbein –http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04k6rls 
  6. On Gutenberg – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04k6sjj
  7. On Martin Luther – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04k6rc8
  8. On Goethe – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04k6rcd
  9. On the German Flag – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04k6rm5
  10. On the Bauhaus Movement – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04k6sd5
  11. On the Notgeld (emergency money during WW1) –http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04k6sd5
  12. On Barlach’s Angel – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04k6tvb
  13. On the aftermath of WWII –http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04k6tv0

*Notice what has been said about the Deutsche Mark, the currency which circulated in West Germany from 1948-1990 and in unified Germany from 1990-2002 (2002 was the year the Euro was adopted):

“The Germans are a great people deprived of certain attributes of sovereignty; with reduced diplomatic status.  Germany compensates for its weakness with its economic power.   The Deutsche Mark is to some extent its nuclear force.” – François Mitterrand, 1988.

“In June 1948 the US Army distributed a new currency in the Western occupation zones of Germany.  These banknotes, which have been printed in the U.S., carried no signatures and carried no issuing authority.  But they did carry the name Deutsche Mark.  Seldom has a military initiative created such a successful brand name.” – Albrecht Ritschl, 2001.



Please share and discuss which are your “favorite” objects from this exhibit! 😉




By the Numbers

Welcome to Week 2 of Teaching Leaders and Leadership through Classics!

I wasn’t really sure what it would be like the participate in a conference like this, let alone organize it, but Week 1 has been more successful and enjoyable than I could have ever imagined. I could view the presentations in between giving finals, and even to use them as grading breaks (which I highly recommend!). They’ve given me food for thought as I switch gears from wrapping up old classes to starting to research and prep for new ones. Best of all, the conference has given me a chance to connect with colleagues old and new and to rekindle conversations that were put on pause during the busier times of the academic year.

One aspect of organizing a virtual conference that is so different from a traditional, face-to-face conference is the means you have to judge impact and success. Instead of butts-in-seats, I’m counting site views and visitors, comments and shares. It’s been fascinating to track the numbers this week, and I’ve been blown away by how many people are participating in this conference in some way. So today, at the outset of Week 2, I wanted to share some of those numbers with you all.

Since the conference website launched on April 13, there have been 4,177 views by 1,193 visitors hailing from 47 different countries. Over half of those views and visitors came during Week 1 of the conference period, with 636 visitors, from 38 countries, viewing the site 2,123 times. (Compare that, if you will, to the last IRL academic conference you attended.)

Now, that’s about all the statistical granularity that WordPress can give us, but the information gathered in the registration forms gives us a clearer picture of who the most committed of these visitors are. There are 93 individuals who registered so far: of them, 60 are women and 33 are men (mirroring the gender breakdown of speakers that Ulrike Krotscheck wrote about this weekend). Just over a third of registrants (33 total) are university professors; 24 are high school, undergraduate, or graduate students; 13 teach in middle and/or high schools; 10 hold ultra-ac positions (thanks to Jason Pedicone for the useful term); 5 hold post-doctoral fellowships; 2 identified as independent scholars; and 6 did not list their current position. It’s rare that we see that kind of diversity of employment background at academic conferences. My hunch for why this conference has attracted so many different participants is that it’s a combination of the accessibility and ease of the format with the broad relevance and applicability of the topic. I’d love to hear your hypotheses in the comments.

One other piece of data surprised me: since this conference grew out of the Sunoikisis Ancient Leadership (SAL) course and has been organized by a group of us who had worked on that project, I had assumed that the vast majority of our registrants would have participated in that course. The numbers, though, have proven me wrong: only 11 of the conference registrants were also a part of the Fall 2016 SAL course! Since I’m a glass-half-full kind of person, this number reads to me as an amazing opportunity. Counting only registrants, there are now 82 more people who are potential content creators, instructors, students, and ambassadors for future iterations of SAL. Rather than just being a way to cement the bonds of those who are already linked through SAL, this conference is shaping up to be a venue for growing our ancient leadership community.

So clearly, many of you have already viewed the presentations, read and written comments, and shared this remarkable conference experience with your friends and colleagues. Thank you! If not, there’s still another week for you to join the conversation.

-Mallory Monaco Caterine

P.S. It’s not too late to register!

Leaders and Gender; Gender and Scholars: Some Reflections

Ten out of the fourteen speakers at this conference are women. Abstract review was blind, and yet, this surprised me, since a) men dominate, by a slim margin, the academic field of Classics, and b) I made the assumption that men would be more likely to study ancient leaders, who were mostly men. What explains this? Or are my own biases and assumptions outdated?

That the gender distribution of this conference falls along these lines might, I think, point to an encouraging trend: women scholars are actively working on issues of leadership. Women have of course long been important, if at times overlooked, contributors to the field, as a recently published book by Edith Hall illuminates, but my assumption had been that our research interests are often gendered: more men at a military history panel; more women at a conference on childhood. Is the landscape shifting?

I would like to use the rest of this contribution to pull together some examples of recent studies of ancient leadership and women (both as scholars and as subjects of scholars). I would like to suggest the following: on one hand, we appear to be slowly moving in the direction of gender equity on the scholarly level, even within what might be viewed as “male” subjects (though see this recent article on “big subject” books). On the other hand, we could do better in balancing the representation of the ancient world by making an effort to highlight the ancient women and their significance in matters outside of the household, family, or childrearing, even though it is a much more difficult history to discover, unpack, and present to students and colleagues. This would require, as Amy Pistone recommends, selecting resistant readings as well as teaching our students to “read for gender, race, and ability and produce students who instinctively question the cost of the “heroic actions” by exceptional individuals…” (Pistone abstract).

On the level of the academy, Classics has been moving toward gender equity: women make up a small majority of graduate students in the humanities, and reach almost 50% for PhD’s awarded in Classical Studies. Although there is evidence that more women than men are employed as adjuncts, the percentage of Classical Studies faculty as measured for the Humanities Indicators Project shows that 36% of tenured and 46% of tenure-track faculty were women in 2012. That is not terrible in comparison with other fields in the humanities, though it could be much better. For example, notwithstanding the percentage of women in the field, the prevalence of the “all-male panel” is well known at our academic conferences, and there have been efforts to call out and counteract this trend.

Scholarship on women as leaders in the ancient world, on the other hand, is sparse, and for real reasons: women were less likely – with the exception of women like Cleopatra – to be allowed the same kinds of leadership roles as men, and we know less about them: to talk about women in antiquity, we have to make “Arguments with Silence.” Not only is that difficult, but when written accounts exist, they are most often written by men, so an additional layer of bias and possible misrepresentation needs to be addressed and unpacked. I myself am definitely guilty of avoiding the extra work: even though I have been known to proclaim to my students that one of the main benefits of archaeology is that artifacts can give a voice to those members of society that are less often heard from, such as women, I don’t often put that into practice: even in the module I designed for the Sunoikisis course, “Spirits in the Material World,” I use examples of material culture that exclusively commemorate male leaders.

A look back at the original Sunoikisis course shows that four of the eleven conveners were women, and much time and energy was spent in the planning and design of the course to ensure that the voices of ancient women are also heard, even if there could be no perfect gender balance.

In the end, three of the fifteen modules in the original Sunoikisis course focused on women: “I know what boys like,” a module on gender and leadership in Plutarch’s Life of Mark Antony, in which one of the exercises asks students to un-gender leadership; “Who runs the world – Girls!” which explores gender and leadership in Plutarch’s Virtues of Women, and “I’m every woman,” which analyzes Aristophanes’ Lysistrata (all three created or co-created by Mallory Monaco Caterine). The jump from ancient to modern leadership and gender was made by a student of Joel Christensen, Katie Perry, who as part of her participation designed her own module entitled “’Smashing’ assumptions of gendered leadership.” Particularly inspiring is her final installment, “Nobody can hold us down: A Case Study of the 2016 Election and Gendered Leadership,” which unpacks gendered assumptions and judgments of the presidential candidates in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

At the present conference, from what I have seen, only a couple of speakers address gender directly in their talks: Norman Sandridge, in his presentation on the potential pitfalls of modern leaders using ancient leaders as examples, makes the point that “when we sit down to talk about contemporary leaders reading ancient leadership, we almost always think of men doing this, and we really need to envision, we need to make way for prominent, contemporary women to be engaging with this material…”

From the side of the ancient sources, Amy Pistone brought up the problems in how to find women as leaders, and in the lively discussion responding to her paper, several panelists weigh in on the difficulties of teaching women as leaders in the ancient world. Suzanne Lye, for example, notes that:

“I have started to move away from having a separate week or weeks devoted to “gender in X” but instead incorporate gender questions as part of the regular course of questions. For example, in a syllabus situation, in a week on “heroes” I also include “heroines,” … I’m not sure, though, if my attempt to normalize gender as part of the regular discussion gives the topic short shrift.”

Secondary sources that we might use to investigate the roles of women are numerous, and there already exists a robust collection of literature on ancient women by scholars like Hall, Blundell, Fantham, and many others. Joel Christensen has compiled a useful list of ancient women authors on his blog, Sententiae Antiquae, which might serve as a good starting point for more detailed examination and study.

How each of us addresses the problem of the silencing of women’s voices and roles in the ancient world is up to us: but I think it is clear that much work remains to be done. I, for one, plan to do the harder work of unpacking the world of ancient women in the archaeological record by remaining reflexive in my practice of which examples I choose in the classroom, and how I talk about women and gender in the ancient world.