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CompLit’s Scotton Off to Greece on Kress Publication Fellowship

Published: July 1, 2010

Paul Scotton will be traveling to the ancient Greek cities of Corinth and Athens from July through January to complete his monograph, “The Julian Basilica in Corinth: An Architectural Investigation,” with a special focus on the site’s inscriptions and a discussion of their context and significance. An associate professor of comparative world literature and classics at CSULB, the opportunity for Scotton came about after being selected for a 2010-11 Kress Publication Fellowship by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). The award recognizes Scotton, a faculty member at CSULB since 2005, as one of the foremost scholars in the field of classical architecture and archaeology.

“It provides me with the necessary support to complete what the ASCSA has deemed a monograph of significant import as well as make it easier to secure further grants and fellowships,” said Scotton.

Funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the fellowships are aimed at supporting scholars who are publishing materials from the ASCSA’s excavations at ancient Corinth or the Athenian Agora. The Kress Foundation supports research in the art and architecture of antiquity. Grants are for at least three months (up to $10,000) to a maximum of nine months (up to $30,000).

The ACSCA is a research center representing a consortium of 180 universities and colleges in both the United States and Canada. Of all those who have worked and trained in Athens and Corinth, only a small percentage are asked to research and publish specific topics and it is even rarer for ASCSA to offer a fellowship to one of this group to complete her or his monograph, Scotton explained.

“Competition for one of these fellowships is fierce and only the best and most highly regarded projects are funded,” he said. “To be recognized as a Kress Fellow is not only an honor within the American school community but also among the elites of his or her field and specialty. Simply put, it is recognition by an elite organization of one of its members and in so doing secures a place for a fellowship recipient among internationally recognized scholars.”

His monograph traces the history of this overlooked Corinthian wonder that once played judge and jury to the Apostle Paul. Corinth had its heyday between the 8th century B.C. and its destruction by the Roman general Mummius in 146 B.C. The city was refounded by Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. as a Roman colony and gradually developed again. In 51/52 A.D., the Apostle Paul visited Corinth and its basilica.

Scotton believes one reason for his distinction is how his research brings fresh study to a building first discovered a little more than 100 years ago.

“The form of the building was recognized but its use was something else,” he said. “My research suggests it was built during a time of social transformation. It was the primary law court in ancient Corinth, which was the capital of Roman Greece. It was a primary center for the imperial cult. There were a number of statues of members of the imperial family and one of the largest concentrations of dedications to the emperor and his cult. These texts are important.”

Scotton executes all his own drawings of the vanished basilica. “I need to be there to complete these drawings because there are things I thought I understood but which didn’t work when I drew them. When I’m there, I can run out to the site and look. What is the real angle? The necessary facts are right there on site. It is like telling a chemist he can only spend a few months a year in his own lab. My laboratory is Greece. I need to be there.”

Drawing the ruined basilica is like solving a puzzle. “You take the pieces and put them together,” he explained. “As the building stands now, there is nothing above the foundation. The plan is recognizable and there are still pieces lying around. But from this, I can create a reasonable view of what the building looked like and I hope someday to create a computer model.”

Scotton will submit his complete manuscript on the Julian Basilica at the end of the term to the Publications Committee of the ASCSA. “The fellowship is, however, a one-time offer. It cannot be deferred nor can the individual reapply,” he said.

Scotton was appointed as a research associate of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA in 2008. He earned his A.B. from the University of Illinois, his M.A. from UC Santa Barbara and his Ph.D. in 1997 from the University of Pennsylvania. During his tenure at the University of Washington, he served as the director of UW Classics Program in Rome during the spring of 2001 and as the director of the UW Study Abroad program at the University of Ioannina, Greece, in spring 2005.

–Richard Manly