Building Bodies 2023 CFP


Building Bodies: Investigating Bodies in the Ancient Mediterranean

Held via Zoom, March 24-25, 2023

Following a successful first conference, Bryn Mawr College’s SPEAC (Students Promoting Equity in Archaeology and Classics) is happy to announce our second biennial research conference, to be held virtually. As a group, we are dedicated to amplifying the voices of academically marginalized and underrepresented communities (including, but not limited to, BIPOC, FGLI, disabled, and LGBTQ+ scholars) in the fields of Classical Studies, Classical Archaeology, Near Eastern Archaeology, and Ancient Mediterranean Studies (broadly conceived). For this conference, we are seeking research from undergraduate and graduate students, as well as unaffiliated and unfunded early-career scholars, that centers around the body and its role in both the ancient world and the modern disciplines that study it.

The United States Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade is a reminder that bodies are and have always been a site of public definition, investigation, violation, and marginalization. The current climate in American politics about the regulation of bodies makes a discussion of how the body functions and is regulated vitally important. The ways we talk about bodies in academia and other public spaces inherently affect and reveal the ways we treat bodies in general. This conference will endeavor to rethink our understanding of the body and its role in antiquity and its reception. In keeping with our mission statement, we invite papers that approach the topic intersectionally, with emphasis on the intersection between the body and race, ethnicity, class, disability, and gender. 


Possible topics include:

  • Construction of bodies 
  • Racialization of bodies 
  • Categorization of bodies (race, gender, sex, disability) 
  • Regulation of bodies (legally, ritually)
  • Transforming bodies
  • Movement of bodies (immigration, migration, enslavement, conquest, colonization, incarceration)
  • Exhibition and viewing of bodies
  • Bodies of work and canons
  • Which bodies study, and which are studied? 

Abstract of 200-250 words are due through this Google form by Jan. 1, 2023. Feel free to email us at with any submission questions.

Artist Spotlight: Shreya Ragavan ’22

Click the above thumbnails to see the full-size pieces and their captions! 

SPEAC Artist Spotlight:

Shreya Ragavan (they/them)
Bryn Mawr ’22
Psychology major, Classical culture and society minor

What initially drew you to the study of the ancient world?

Sophomore year, while looking to fulfill my “Inquiry into the Past” requirement, I stumbled upon the Golden Age of Athens course at Haverford. I’d never taken a classics course before, but I loved the Percy Jackson series when I was younger, so I figured I’d give the course a try.

Classics quickly became a source of light in my life. I eagerly looked forward to Athens class each week.

In the spring, I decided to enroll in Elementary Greek in order to fulfill my language requirement. The rest is history.

What aspects of the ancient world do you find inspiring for your work? 

I’m especially interested in emotions and affect, gender identity and expression, mental health and mental illness, death and the afterlife, etc. in Ancient Greek mythology and literature.

I also have an interest in classical reception, and in refashionings/ adaptations of Ancient Greek texts. Mythical figures often help me to feel understood at the same time as I seek to understand them. I am inspired by the ways in which mythical lives interact and intersect with our own.

What are your future goals for study and art? 

I’m hoping to eventually pursue further education in the field of classics, perhaps after a gap year or two. I’ve been looking into classics post-bacc programs for now.

The arts are undoubtedly a crucial part of my life. No matter where life takes me, I’ll always be a creator at heart. I am very excited to continue generating artistic work inspired by my passion for Ancient Greek mythology and literature in the future.

My dream career would likely be one that allows me to combine my passion for classics with my love of the arts (visual art, creative writing, and theatre). Who knows- maybe in 5 years you’ll find me auditioning for the role of Orpheus in Hadestown! (If I ever learn how to dance, that is.)

If you are interested in featuring your artwork on the SPEAC blog, email us at ! 

Call for Blog Posts!

    SPEAC is excited to invite guest posts for our blog! Until now, posts have been written by SPEAC members, but we want to open it up to the community! We are seeking posts from students across the Bi-Co from all departments at the undergraduate and graduate levels. These posts should have a read-time of about 2-10 minutes and be understandable for a general audience. Topics can be classics and archeology related generally, but we’re especially interested in topics relating to equity and social justice in some way.

Here are some examples of topics and formats that would be good:

  • A quick introduction to a topic you’re interested in
  • A reaction to an article 
  • A review of a myth-based movie or novel
  • An interview with a scholar and/or activist (including your favorite prof!)
  • A write-up about a BIPOC scholar in our fields
  • Study tips for FGLI students
  • A list of resources tailored to BIPOC students studying the ancient world
  • An opinion piece about some aspect of our fields and social justice
  • A creative piece: visual art, poetry, whatever you can think of!
  • Etc.!

This is a non-exhaustive list, so if you have an idea that isn’t covered here just send it our way and we’ll see what we can do! All submissions will be peer-reviewed by one or more SPEAC members, who will then publish it on the blog under that author’s name. We want this to be an opportunity for you to practice writing for the public and soft peer review– and did we mention this can add to your online presences and CV? This is a rolling deadline, meaning that submissions are always open!

Please send all submissions to with the subject line “SPEAC Blog Submission.” Feel free to ask us any questions at that address or reach out to any SPEAC member you know! 

Black History Month 2021

For Black History Month, SPEAC students compiled short biographies of Black scholars working today in the fields of Classics and Archaeology and sent them weekly to our mailing list. There are so many amazing Black scholars in our fields, and here are just a few that we wanted to highlight! 

Classics faculty members also presented short biographies of historical Black Classicists before the weekly Classics Colloquium (post to come!).

Continue reading Black History Month 2021

Notes from Fall 2020 Semester Check-In with Faculty

One of SPEAC’s founding principles is that collaboration between students and faculty is invaluable for effecting the changes we’re seeking. We recently held a meeting to update faculty on our projects from this semester, discuss our plans for next semester, and to provide a space for brainstorming potential interdepartmental projects that SPEAC could help implement. SPEAC was represented by a student from each of our four committees: Conference, Curriculum, Colloquium, and Website/Outreach. All interested faculty were invited to attend, from both Classics and CNEA, since we are an interdepartmental group.


SPEAC Fall 2020 Faculty Check-In Meeting 12/15/2020

Topics discussed:

  • A major goal of SPEAC is collaborating with faculty, grad students, and undergrads to make positive change in our classics and archaeology departments
    • This is the first of our semesterly meetings with faculty and students from both departments
  • We’re aiming for our conference to create a space for students to come together and talk about the future of the field
    • We have secured a $700 budget, which will be used to pay for the keynote speaker and logo
    • In future years we will ask for bigger budget to help pay for travel fees of conference participants.
    • Abstract submissions are open until January 1
    • We will take names off the submissions and SPEAC members (except those who submitted) will vote on which to accept
  • SPEAC is partnering with the classics and archaeology departments to host anti-racism reading groups
    • THURSDAY, JANUARY 28, 2 PM for first session (other details TBD)
    • Inspired by the First Fridays on Anti-Racism organized by Penn’s Department of Classical Studies
  • Curriculum committee is a new committee that came from students at the town halls asking for greater diversity in course offerings
    • We will form a group with Prof. Conybeare to create Ancient North Africa courses–this will happen early next semester
    • Prof. Conybeare has some research funding for up to two research assistants!
  • Different pages of our website: resources, conference CFP, links to departments’ social justice pages, blog posts with resources/activities, events
    • We will have a whole separate conference website soon and we just created SPEAC Instagram and Twitter
  • Colloquium committee has written and implemented a speaker style guide and assembled a diverse list of speaker suggestions for this year
  • Recruitment committee redid the classics recruiting materials for academic fair
  • We also want to reach out to and learn from other groups in the Bi-Co that are working on similar goals
  • We need to talk about intro language classes and the violence of language teaching, c.f. recent conversations on Classics Twitter
  • Olivia is the FGLI mentor, a FGLI grad student who’s a resource for undergrad students.


As always please email us with any questions!