A New Chapter of Discentes: A Letter from the Editorial Team

Discentes: The Classical Studies Magazine of the University of Pennsylvania

Reflecting upon the first half of 2020, it would be an understatement to say that the world around us has changed immensely. As individuals, as classicists, and as an editorial team, we have experienced a global pandemic, faced an abrupt ending to our semester on campus, and, most harrowingly, witnessed unthinkable acts of racism and hatred in our country. At the same time, we have also seen benevolent acts of kindness, watched the fight for justice rise even greater than before, and found moments of light even during these uncertain times.

Several months ago, when we held our first team Zoom call and developed a plan to start publishing Discentes articles this summer, lockdown and shelter-in-place had scarcely begun. At the time, our greatest worries surrounded the adjustment to online courses and speculation about the upcoming fall semester. While these concerns remain valid, we have since shifted our focus toward how we can support and amplify marginalized voices in our community, and how Classical Studies can continue to become an area of study for everyone. As students who devote our minds to this discipline – one focused on the ins and outs of the ancient world and its ties to today – we know we must fully acknowledge and work to mend our field’s shortcomings concerning race and representation. From the erasure of POC in antiquity to contemporary connections with racist organizations, our discipline has often been made an unwelcoming space for marginalized individuals, especially BIPOC. As future leaders in our field, we know it is our responsibility to ensure that the discipline of Classics is actively anti-racist, which involves sharing forgotten voices from history and fostering a supportive environment for people from all racial, cultural, and educational backgrounds.

This summer, we intended to relaunch Discentes, and in recent weeks, we have set aside time to think carefully about the mission and goals of this publication. Undeniably, the world around us today is vastly different than it was in January, or even March. Especially as Classics students, we must constantly contend with both the ancient and contemporary worlds, with the understanding that our changing perceptions of one will necessitate changes in our perceptions of the other. As we pledge to make a difference in our own classrooms, discipline, and campus environment, we seek to reflect upon the past with a greater dedication to sharing and amplifying every voice. 

In this vein, as we begin a new chapter of Discentes, we will continue to publish student research papers and translations, while also introducing two new editorial groups: 

  • The Events team, who will cover our Classical Studies department at Penn, ranging from faculty interviews to student profiles.
  • The Articles team, who will explore classics through a wide lens, examining the connections between past and present and discussing various topics relating to our discipline. 

With these new additions, our entire editorial team aims to reclaim and redefine our field for academic and non-academic readers alike, providing a space for every member of the Classics community.

As we turn a new page and re-introduce our publication, we invite you to submit your work and share your story, regardless of your major, minor, or past coursework. Whether your reflection on the ancient world comes in the form of researching underrepresented individuals in ancient Greece or crafting a meal from antiquity – which may be as challenging to make as it is delicious to eat – we are here to provide you with an outlet for exploring both ancient history and present-day experiences as we embark on this journey together.

The Discentes Editorial Team

Please see below for links to resources on race and classics.

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