Archive for March, 2011


Resource Reviews: Ancient Philosophy

March 30, 2011

The UGA Classics department does not specialize in ancient philosophy; the philosophy department does have a 3000-level class on ancient philosophy. But philosophy comes up all the time in my work with classics students. For example, last semester I worked with an undergraduate who was looking at a relief sculpture and wanted to tie in Plato’s allegory of the cave, so we tried to get a sense of what contemporary attitudes towards and knowledge of Plato would have been (in the later Hellenistic period.)

We have relatively few works in the Reference department in the Main Library at UGA, but we do have the big ones:

  • Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy (1962-1981, 6 volumes), Main Reference B171 .G984h (with another copy on the 6th floor available for checkout.) Jenkins discusses this as no. 867, calling it “long established as the standard work in the field.” The six volumes cover the Presocratic philosophers through Aristotle, and focus on discussion of the philosophical works themselves. While Jenkins calls Guthrie “accessible to the lay reader” it is probably for more sophisticated undergraduates or graduate students, not entry-level students.
  • Armstrong,The Cambridge history of later Greek and early medieval philosophy (1967), Main Reference B171 .A79 (also with a circulating copy on the 6th floor.)  This edited volume covers the period from the 4th century BCE to the 12th century CE, giving  “a good general survey of later Greek philosophy and its influence.” (Jenkins no. 863)
  • Zeyl, et al., Encyclopedia of classical philosophy (Greenwood Press, 1997) Main Reference B163 .E53 1997. Jenkins (no. 883) calls this work “an excellent encyclopedia,” and it is where I would send most entry-level students.  It has signed articles with scholarly bibliographies, and covers philosophers and philosophic schools from the 6th century BCE to the 6th century CE.

We also have:

  • Preus, Historical Dictionary of Ancient Greek Philosophy (Scarecrow Press, 2007), Main Reference B111 .P74 2007.  This came out too late to be reviewed by Jenkins.  It is a dictionary, with short entries of a paragraph or two. It is definitely aimed at undergraduates, and might be most useful for those looking for definitions of common philosophical terms and concepts, though it does have thumbnail sketches of specific philosophers and movements.

Online Image Resources for Classics

March 25, 2011

When I present to classes, I often am asked to show them where they can find images of classical artworks, sites, or archaeological finds to use for presentations or even as references when writing a paper.  There are relatively few subscription databases that provide images; at UGA we subscribe to CAMIO, which has images from North American museums, including the MFA Boston and its collection of classical materials, but we don’t subscribe to ArtStor, the biggie in the field.  We do have a campus Visual Resources Center, with access limited to campus users (by arrangement on a per-class basis with the librarian).  But often students want free-web images.

Perseus has an Art and Archaeology Artifact Browser, which is somewhat limited in its coverage but provides good scholarly information for students.  A simple Google image search can find some things; limiting the search to .edu sites can be even more useful (one does this in the Advanced Search interface).  Flickr is another place to look – some faculty clearly stash their teaching images here, and there are a striking number of really good photographers who like to travel to Mediterannean sites and museums.  Especially useful is a group pool of more than 25,000 images at Flickr called Chiron, which collects Creative Commons-licensed images of the classical world.

Mosaic depicting theater masks Roman 2nd century CE

I also remind students that for educational purposes, it’s fine to scan an image from a print book or scholarly article and use it in a powerpoint presentation or attach it to a paper.  We have several flatbed scanners in the Library, and in the Miller Learning Center scholarly commons building where my office is.

Next week I am taking myself firmly in hand and starting to review reference resources in classical philosophy.  Somebody hold me!


Good Summary Article on Digital Classics/cist

March 22, 2011

Yesterday I read with interest Simon Mahoney’s article “Research communities and open collaboration: the example of the Digital Classicist wiki,” thanks to a recommendation from @paregorios (Tom Elliot).  It’s a fairly quick read and I feel like I have a better understanding of what the Digital Classicist wiki‘s history is, and what I might find it useful for in the future – better than I acquired after some random poking around on the site last summer, anyway.

One of the big topics the article raises is whether digital humanities is inherently collaborative and what technological structures can do to foster community.  This is an issue I’m interested in in general, especially because I see academia generally, and classics within the academy in particular, as very hierarchical disciplines that value tradition, and disciplines where much of the serious work is done solo (archaeologists are somewhat exceptional in this regard).  I thought about this idea when I talked about and social networking for academics; I thought about this idea when we discussed crowdsourcing at THATCamp SE.  I’m thinking about this today, as my goal for this week is to get the wiki piece of the Ancient World Open Bibliographies project up and running, and the goal of that project is the building of a collaborative bibliography for the use of scholars and students.  How can I get collaborators?

As an aside, I was curious enough about the gender balance in digital classics – especially because of the recent spate of articles about gender imbalance among Wikipedia editors – to count the number of members listed at the Digital Classicist Wiki by gender.  (For first names I was uncertain about, I assumed they were female.)  The tally was 120 listed members, 80 of whom are male and 40 of whom are female; the four editors are male.  Not too shabby; recent reports suggest classics PhDs currently awarded are largely split 50-50 by gender, for context, but computer science remains a male-dominated field.


THATCamp 6: Libraries and Scholars

March 17, 2011

This post covers the Sunday of THATCamp SE – sessions I did not attend in person.  The Athens contingent was totally exhausted, and collectively decided to not commute on Sunday.  But I pulled up the #thatcamp twitter feed (archived here by Adelle Frank) and was able to eavesdrop, and even participate virtually a little bit.

The first session I overheard was on Subject Guide Development and Use – basically, LibGuides.  I saw on Twitter that they were interested in alternatives to LibGuides, and tweeted that we at UGA use Library a la Carte, an open-source software developed by Oregon State, and we like it better than LibGuides for its clean design and clear distinction between class and subject guides.  And they pulled it up in the session and looked at it!  Go team remote conference participation.

After that there was a very lively twitter conversation coming from the session on Envisioning Librarian-Scholar Communications, with a collectively-edited Google doc developing as the session went on.  Miriam Posner later posted a great summary of the conversation. This was wonderful to observe remotely, seeing a lot of scholars in the session gain a greater understanding of what librarians do, where their special expertise lies, and how librarians want to, and can, work with scholars in support of teaching and research.

Phew, done!  And only, um, 11 days after the conference ended.

Previous posts on THATCamp SE:


THATCamp 5: Open-Access, Kindles, Crowdsourcing

March 16, 2011

Okay, if I don’t get more terse we’re never going to get through THATCamp SE.  Day one continued:

At lunch we had “dork shorts” which were timed 3-minute talks on anything anybody wanted to show.  Topics included a documentary about an Atlanta punk band, a blog about rural life which featured a lovely photo of a ca. 1940 man with his pet skunk, and UGA’s <emma> program, used in writing classes, which allows collaborative markup of student papers.

After lunch 1: Open Access Publishing, hosted by me. I was a little thoughtless at 9am and put things on the whiteboard that I thought would make good discussions, forgetting that then I would have to a) attend and b) HOST the discussions.  And people signed up for them!  This was number 1.  It was kind of a general conversation, with several librarians present who had experience hosting open access journals using the Open Journal Systems software (at Duke, GA Tech, and UGA), a grad student who works on the OA journal Southern Spaces at Emory, and a faculty member who edits a major journal that is not open-access.  We talked about business models (Mellon support, departmental support, support by an organization like ATLA), OA in Humanities as opposed to Sciences, and reasons why OA is important (I especially liked the mention of the need to make research accessible to communities being studied, in some fields.)

After lunch 2: My colleague from UGA, Caroline Barratt, and I hosted an intimate conversation about our current project using Kindles for all course readings in an English class.  This was very productive for us – we took a lot of notes about interesting questions to ask when we hold focus groups later this semester – and those present seemed to enjoy it also, with a wide-ranging discussion including practical issues as well as big topics like “what is the book” and “what is reading.”

After lunch 3: Crowdsourcing Digital Humanities Projects; I was hosting again. I was hoping to get advice on how to manage the human side of a project like the Ancient World Open Bibliographies. I was struck by the great diversity of experiences and expertise present at this session.  Participants talked about: a women’s collective project in India, crowdsourcing the transcription of the Cardinal Newman letters at Emory (interestingly, the volunteers were not collected using the internet, but came mostly via newsletters and news articles), open-access software projects, and a project to collaboratively write a latin textbook. We talked about the importance of passion in volunteers (which is why there’s a Wookieepedia) – and how it can’t be artificially created – and, failing passion, the need to “make it fun” or even sneak crowdsourcing into a project (like ReCaptcha).

By this point someone in another session was beginning to tweet about zombies, so the UGA contingent regrouped and headed back to Athens.  I don’t know how anyone had the energy to go out, but  gather some THATCampers continued conversations into the evening.

Previous posts on THATCamp SE:



THATCamp SE 4: Making Digital Collections Work for the Scholar

March 10, 2011

THATCamp SE got started in earnest on Saturday.  We all met in a lecture room in the Emory Library (which is a wonderful space in general, and had guest wireless that made me incredibly jealous – it remembered me when I came back the 2nd day, and automatically gave me access! On my own campus, I get kicked off the wireless network repeatedly even when I’m sitting in the same place for an hour.)

THATCamps are “unconferences” – that is, there is no set agenda and no pre-planned papers.  The conference attendees post at the conference web site about what issues they want to discuss, and start to generate interest, and then the morning of the first day they write their sessions on a huge whiteboard and others make tickmarks if they plan to attend.

that camp session white board

This is actually from a THATCamp in Australia. Hence the appearance of "speedos."


The tickmarks allow the organizers to assign sessions to appropriate sized rooms. We had a brief rundown of the THATCamp groundrules (below) and we were off.

  1. THATCamp is FUN – That means no reading papers, no powerpoint presentations, no extended project demos, and especially no grandstanding.
  2. THATCamp is PRODUCTIVE – Following from the no papers rule, we’re not here to listen and be listened to. We’re here to work, to participate actively. It is our sincere hope that you use today to solve a problem, start a new project, reinvigorate an old one, write some code, write a blog post, cure your writer’s block, forge a new collaboration, or whatever else stands for real results by your definition. We [are] here to get stuff done.
  3. Most of all, THATCamp is COLLEGIAL – Everyone should feel equally free to participate and everyone should let everyone else feel equally free to participate. You are not students and professors, management and staff here at THATCamp. At most conferences, the game we play is one in which I, the speaker, try desperately to prove to you how smart I am, and you, the audience member, tries desperately in the question and answer period to show how stupid I am by comparison. Not here. At THATCamp we’re here to be supportive of one another as we all struggle with the challenges and opportunities of incorporating technology in our work, departments, disciplines, and humanist missions. So no nitpicking, no tweckling, no petty BS.

The first session I attended was proposed by Andy Carter (@cartera) of the Digital Library of Georgia, and described by him as “Big digital piles and the classroom.” As an archivist, he wants to know how scholars use digital collections in both teaching and research, and how the collections he manages can make these tasks easier for them.  Shawn Averkamp, who attended, had also asked a similar question.  We had more librarians than faculty in the room (this was to become a theme…) but the faculty talked about technological hurdles (real and/or perceived) and needing a guide to resources.  My main takeaway was articulated by Paul Fyfe (@pfyfe):

digital libraries/archives session theme of missed connections: who is mediating between resources and researchers/teachers?

For me, this was a stand-up moment: I am.  In my work as a Reference librarian, I am doing this for students who walk up to the desk or ask me a question via chat reference.  In my work as a subject liaison, I want to make it my goal to do this, not just for the faculty at my institution, but for the discipline of classics as a whole, at this blog.  I’ve struggled with understanding digital humanities projects so I can explain to the average classicist – what is this, and how might it be relevant to your research or teaching?  Is there an undergraduate assignment lurking in this project?

Some practical ideas for digital collections or dh projects that we discussed were educator guides, sample assignments, or digital “sandboxes” for playing with content, all hosted at the project sites.  These can come from the librarian or project head, but project hosts would  also welcome feedback from scholars who use their collections: email the project letting them know your students used the materials, and what the assignment looked like, or noting access hurdles and making suggestions to overcome them.  For faculty, the takeaway should be that digital collection and project hosts want the materials to be used, and need your help to see how that can be accomplished most profitably.

Previous posts on THATCamp SE:


UGA Libraries Classics-Related Acquisitions: February 2011

March 9, 2011

In the five weeks since my last post on this topic, the UGA Libraries added 4859  items to the Main Library collection. Works of interest to those in Classics and related fields include the following (in LC call number order):

  • Ancient models of mind : studies in human and divine rationality
    Location: Main Library 6th floor B187.M55 A53 2010
  • Apologizing for Socrates : how Plato and Xenophon created our Socrates; Danzig, Gabriel, 1961-
    Location: Main Library 6th floor
  • Against Proclus On the eternity of the world 9-11; Philoponus, John, 6th cent.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor B701.D3823 P45213 2010
  • Nietzsche and the ancient skeptical tradition; Berry, Jessica.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor B3317 .B429 2011
  • Foreign cults in Rome : creating a Roman Empire; Orlin, Eric M.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BL805 .O74 2010
  • Dead Sea scrolls at 60 : scholarly contributions of New York University faculty and alumni Ranieri Colloquium on Ancient Studies (2008 : New York, N.Y.)
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BM487 .D44955 2008
  • Qumran and Jerusalem : studies in the Dead Sea scrolls and the history of Judaism; Schiffman, Lawrence H.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BM487 .S3127 2010
  • Apostolic Fathers : an introduction
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BR60.A65 A6613 2010
  • Clement of Alexandria on trial : the evidence of “heresy” from Photius’ Bibliotheca; Ashwin-Siejkowski, Piotr, 1964-
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BR65.C65 O983733 2010
  • St. Jerome’s commentaries on Galatians, Titus, and Philemon; Jerome, Saint, d. 419 or 20.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BR65.J472 E64 2010
  • Women in the world of the earliest Christians : illuminating ancient ways of life; Cohick, Lynn H.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BR195.W6 C63 2009
  • Exeter Cathedral : the first thousand years, 400-1550; Orme, Nicholas.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BR753.E94 O76 2009
  • Cyprian and Roman Carthage; Brent, Allen.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BR1720.C8 B74 2010
  • Heaven’s purge : purgatory in late antiquity; Moreira, Isabel.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BT843 .M67 2010
  • Rethinking the other in antiquity; Gruen, Erich S.
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor CB251 .G78 2011
  • Plaster casts : making, collecting, and displaying from classical antiquity to the present
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor CC135 .P595 2010
  • Archaeologists as activists : can archaeologists change the world?
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor CC175 .A7166 2010
  • Epigrafia a Roma nel primo Medioevo (secoli IV-X) : modelli grafici e tipologie d’uso; Cardin, Luca.
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor CN535 .C37 2008
  • Classics and imperialism in the British Empire
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DA16 .C57 2010
  • From hunter gatherers to huntsmen : a history of the Stansted landscape; Cooke, Nicholas.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor Folio DA664.S78 C66 2008
  • Cambourne new settlement : Iron Age and Romano-British settlement on the clay uplands of West Cambridgeshire
    Location: Main Library 4th floor Folio DA670.C2 C29 2009
  • Palaia philia : studi di topografia antica in onore di Giovanni Uggeri
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DF35 .P35 2009
  • Scholars, travels, archives : Greek history and culture through the British School at Athens : proceedings of a conference held at the National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens, 6-7 October 2006
    Location: Main Library 4th floor Folio DF212.5.B75 S36 2009
  • New history of the Peloponnesian War; Tritle, Lawrence A., 1946-
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DF229 .T74 2010
  • Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore : the terracotta sculpture; Bookidis, Nancy, 1938-
    Location: Main Library 4th floor Folio DF261 .C65 A6 v. 18 pt. 5
  • Time’s up! : dating the Minoan eruption of Santorini ; acts of the Minoan eruption chronology workshop, Sandbjerg November 2007, initiated by Jan Heinemeier & Walter L. Friedrich
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DF261.T4 T554 2009
  • Democratie athenienne, democratie moderne : tradition et influences : neuf exposes suivis de discussions
    Location: Main Library 4th floor
  • Viabilita della Sicilia in eta romana; Uggeri, Giovanni.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG28.5 .U44 2004
  • Cities of Roman Italy : Pompeii, Herculaneum and Ostia; De la Bedoyere, Guy.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG31 .D44 2010
  • Cividale del Friuli : l’impianto urbano di Forum Iulii in epoca romana : carta archeologica; Colussa, Sandro.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG70.C5 C65 2010
  • Carta archeologica del territorio ferrarese : (F. Š77 III S. E.) Comacchio; Uggeri, Giovanni.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG70.C574 U36 2006
  • Disegni di restituzione dal Settecento al Novecento del tempio G di Selinunte e dell’Olympieion di Agrigento; Amari, Susanna.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor Folio DG70.S4 A43 2010
  • Unclassical traditions
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG77 .U53 2010
  • Readings in late antiquity : a sourcebook 2nd ed.; Maas, Michael, 1951-
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG78 .M22 2010
  • Herrschen und Verwalten : der Alltag der romischen Administration in der Hohen Kaiserzeit
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG83 .H47 2007
  • Vers la pensee unique : la montee de l’intolerance dans l’Antiquite tardive; Athanassiadi, Polymnia.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG121 .A75 2010
  • Feindliche Nachbarn : Rom und die Germanen
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG214.5 .F45 2008
  • Hannibal; Garland, Robert, 1947-
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG249 .G37 2010
  • Roman perspectives : studies in the social, political and cultural history of the first to fifth centuries; Matthews, John (John Frederick)
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG270 .M37 2010
  • Imperial authority and dissent : the Roman empire in AD 235-238; Haegemans, Karen.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG306 .H345 2010
  • Defense de l’Occident romain pendant l’Antiquite tardive : recherches geostrategiques sur l’Italie de 284 a€ 410 ap. J.-C.; Vannesse, Michael.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor
  • Diccionario de la Hispania romana; Arroyo, Francisco.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DP94 .A77 2010
  • J. Paul Getty Museum handbook of the antiquities collection. 2nd ed. J. Paul Getty Museum.
    Location: Main Library 7th floor N5603.M36 J25 2010
  • Art of ancient Greek theater; Hart, Mary Louise.
    Location: Main Library 7th floor N8252 .H37 2010
  • Amicitia : friendship and social networks in Antiquity and the Middle Ages
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA2019.F5 I523 v. 36
  • Storia della lingua latina e del suo contesto; Mazzini, Innocenzo.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA2057 .M39 2007
  • Light and darkness in ancient Greek myth and religion
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3014.L47 L54 2010
  • Archaic Greek epigram and dedication : representation and reperformance; Day, Joseph W.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3123 .D39 2010
  • Introduction to Greek tragedy; Scodel, Ruth.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3131 .S39 2010
  • Didaskaliai II : nuovi studi sulla tradizione e l’interpretazione del dramma attico
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3133 .D533 2008
  • Interjections du theatre grec antique : etude semantique et pragmatique; Biraud, Michele.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3136 .B57 2009
  • Aesopic conversations : popular tradition, cultural dialogue, and the invention of Greek prose; Kurke, Leslie.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3257 .K87 2011
  • Introduction to classical rhetoric : essential readings
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3265 .I58 2009
  • Looking at Lysistrata : eight essays and a new version of Aristophanes’ provocative comedy
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3875.L8 L66 2010
  • Two novels from ancient Greece : Chariton’s Callirhoe and Xenophon of Ephesos’ An Ephesian story : Anthia and Habrocomes Chariton.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3948.C3 E5 2010
  • Poeme judeo-hellenistique attribue a Orphee : production juive et reception chretienne; Jourdan, Fabienne.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor
  • Opuscula de rebus mirabilibus et de longaevis; Phlegon, of Tralles.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA4273 .P3 2011
  • Music in the odes of Horace; Lyons, Stuart.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6411 .L97 2010
  • Saturnalia; Macrobius, Ambrosius Aurelius Theodosius.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6498.E6 S28 2011
  • Metamorphoses; Ovid, 43 B.C.-17 or 18 A.D.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6522.M2 L66 2010
  • Ironia di Ovidio verso Livia e Tiberio; Luisi, Aldo.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6537 .L849 2010
  • Plautus; Plautus, Titus Maccius.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6570 .A3 2011

THATCamp SE 3: Google Earth

March 9, 2011

The third session of BootCamp day for me at THATCamp SE was Intro to GIS  with Michael Page (a geographer/librarian at Emory who works in the classical world, with Emory’s Bonna Daix Wescoat at Samothrace’s Sanctuary of the Great Gods.) We looked at a lot of features of Google Earth and did a really quick creation of a file with the location of our Civil War Letter.

This was a little more structured than other sessions at BootCamp; Page had taught “Intro to Google Earth” before, and had pre-staged .kml files (that’s the Google Earth file format) for us to open and play with, each illustrating a feature of the program. Then we did a quick piece of coding in xml (mostly cutting and pasting) that allowed us to develop a .kml file that would open in Google Earth with a pushpin at a location related to the Civil War Letter, and an info window with the MARBL graphic and a link to the text of the letter. I also learned what a “smoot” is – a geeky measurement (which is an option in Google Earth) derived from a 1958 MIT prank involving Oliver Smoot, who, and this is the best part, grew up to become the head of the ISO.

The applications for GIS in archaeological field work and architectural reconstruction have been obvious for a long time.  One example from our session was Page’s own work using Google Earth at Samothrace  – he showed us a file with the site plan overlain on the satellite image of the site.  Many classicists are probably familiar with the Google Earth Rome 3-d visualization project that got a lot of press when it debuted.  But GIS can be useful for non-archaeological analysis as well – see, for example, the Hestia Project (which the authors have popularly referred to as “Herodotus Earth” (pdf, may open in browser.) This project spatially coded all places in the text of Herodotus, allowing not just for two and three-dimensional maps but for network maps and maps with place markers sized larger as the number of times the place is mentioned in the text grows.

And, you know, if you get frustrated, just add Godzilla. (Okay, this uses Sketchup, not Google Earth itself, but I couldn’t resist, and they are both Google products that work together.)

Previous posts on THATCamp SE:


THATCamp SE 2: Online Collections

March 8, 2011

The second and fourth sessions of my day at BootCamp SE (part of THATCamp SE) covered several steps in the process of creating an online digital collection at  The collection we worked on was of American Civil War Papers housed in the MARBL rare books library at Emory.

In the morning, working under Alice Hickox, we were given digital photos of the actual letters and a first-pass transcription in a text file, then taught to create an xml document using TEI encoding.  In less technical terms, we created a structured digital file of the letter, with special codes that allowed us to designate the salutation, date, location, unreadable portions of text, assign Library of Congress subject headings (taken from the finding aids for our letters in the Emory catalog).  The added structural elements – the metadata – allow the letter to be searched for and searched within in special ways, and allow it to be presented in online environments in ways that respect its structure.

In the late afternoon, we had a more extended discussion of what metadata is and why it’s important (with Kim Durante and Laura Akerman), and explored Omeka, an open-source  software (there are hosted options) that enables the presentation of encoded documents online in digital collections (with Chris Pollette).

Why would this be useful for you, as a classicist? Well, have you looked at the Homer Multitext Project?  That’s basically what we did at BootCamp, in the sort of way that one can do such a thing in a couple of hours. Any presentation of a collection of primary sources online – inscriptions, papyri, photographs – could use these basic techniques.  One could create a project that would engage undergraduates or graduate students as researchers and encoders, or use this method to publish a collection of, say, squeezes in your departmental library, or of 19th century photographs taken on Grand Tours of the Mediterranean.

This isn’t the sort of project that a scholar can build from the ground up solo without a lot of preliminary learning and some stumbling blocks along the way.  If you’re interested in doing something like this, a great first step is a consultation with a digital projects librarian (or someone with a title like that – ask your subject librarian who that might be) at your institution – they can point you to the resources you need, and maybe even be a collaborator or partner.

Previous post on THATCamp SE:


THATCamp SE 1: Timelines Assignment

March 7, 2011

This past Friday and Saturday I attended THATCamp SE (The Humanities and Technology Camp, a fairly informal “unconference” that is held locally or regionally), and Sunday I attended virtually via the twitter feed and some public Google docs that were being created.  So this week will be filled with “what I did and why it was cool for me”, with hopefully some “this might be cool for you to try as a classics teacher or researcher” added just for you, dear reader.

Friday was “BootCamp SE,” designed to provide hand-on skills training.  This post is going to highlight the first session, an hour and a half spent “Visualizing Time and Space with Simile Widgets and Google” with Brian Croxall. Although he was prevented by some sneaky smart quotes from having a dramatic reveal at the end of the session, I came away with a great classroom assignment for any class working with chronologies or historic events.

Here’s what we did:

  1. Created a Google Documents spreadsheet and filled it with some data: a title for the event, start date, end date (if not a one-day event), longer description of the event, a link to an online image, longitude and latitude coordinates (grabbed from Google maps), and a broad category.
  2. Pulled up an html editor, cut and pasted some code that Brian had pre-staged for us, and put the web page online (we didn’t technically do all of this, but I did the parts we didn’t get to by myself in odd moments during the day today.)
  3. Profit!  Okay, at least, Timeline! (Note mine is all about 1913, because I’m still deep in that Reacting to the Past game I mentioned the other week. Also it has a bug – the categories on the right sidebar aren’t showing, because I am not an Actual Rock Star. Yet.)

So, let’s say I was teaching a class in Aegean Prehistory and wanted to address the hanging points for the chronology. (I did an assignment like this as an undergrad, using actual graph paper, in a class taught by Jim Wright). Here’s what I’d do:

  1. Assign the students to collect the information needed for the Google spreadsheet.  I might group them into teams – you all deal with Aegean artifacts found in Egyptian contexts, you all deal with radiocarbon dates, etc. This would be a homework assignment, with a reading list of print sources suggested (and places to look online to find artifact images to include).
  2. My “homework” would be to set up the Google spreadsheet and “invite” all the students, so they could add their events/artifacts. I’d also pre-stage the web page using the Timeline Simile scripts, and make it live on a web space.
  3. Meet in a classroom with computers, or ask students to bring laptops, and have them fill in the Google spreadsheet in class. I’d have the web page showing live, so that as students added events to the timeline they would show up one by one.
  4. I’d make the “how I did this” piece available to the students, so they could use the Timelines for future projects.

Brian has a tutorial online that you can use to teach yourself everything you need to assign a Timeline in a couple of hours, I’d say (maybe even less if you are already comfortable with Google Docs, editing html, and have a web space to put stuff up.)  Others at the session mentioned that this might be useful for their dissertation research (keeping events in order and reminding oneself what was happening simultaneously), and as a spatial exercise (since the events have latitude and longitude, you can also produce a map of “events”). Would this be useful to you, in your research or teaching?  Feel free to brainstorm in comments.