Archive for April, 2011

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Resource Review: The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies.

April 28, 2011

The UGA Libraries has The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies in the Main Library stacks (4th floor, DG209 .O94 2010) and the Classics Department also purchased a copy for the Alexander Room.  I looked it at a few months ago, but the recent Bryn Mawr Classical Review by Angela Kühr (which includes full publication data and the list of contributors and chapter titles, all 55 of them) prompted me to look again, and more closely.

As a librarian, I find “handbook” to be a fairly squishy category; my first question is always “what do they mean by handbook”?  One could quibble about this category for such a hefty book – it’s certainly bigger than my not-very-dainty hand, and heavy enough that it cannot be consulted one-handed; with the index it’s nearly 950 pages.  Plus there’s a foot (the colossal one of Constantine) on the cover!  Not a handbook at all, by my lights.  The copy on the front cover flap admits as much:

It is intended less as an encyclopaedia of the well-established, and more a research tool to aid the development of the subject: a guide that does not just inform but inspires.

The essays that make up the volume are diverse, divided into five sections (Tools, Approaches, Genres, History, and Ideas) and given broad titles like “Archaeology” (as Henry Hurst, the author, reviewer Kühr and I all note with sighs, a “Tool”), “Power” and “Spectacle” (both “History”) and “Roman Identity” (an “Approach”).  There’s no major topic glaringly absent to me, but then, over 950 pages and 55 essays it’s easy to cover a lot of ground.  The authors are an international bunch, and big-name senior scholars predominate.

Who is this book aimed at?  It is not really a reference work, although like many non-reference works one can consult it usefully for ideas and bibliography.  One might assign relevant sections of it to entry-level undergraduates, but I find the approaches the authors take tend to be nuanced and sophisticated; their observations are more suited to upper-level undergraduates and graduate students.  More senior scholars will find it thought-provoking as well I suspect, a chance to step back and look at a big-picture overview of Roman Studies, not a synthetic one, but a mosaic of scholarly voices and approaches. I doubt many will read through the entire volume, preferring to dip into the essays of most relevance to one’s own work (as I myself have done in preparing this review.)

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Are Research Papers Worthwhile?

April 21, 2011

I’ve been thinking about Barbara Fister’s recent blog post arguing that the “research paper” isn’t working as an assignment for undergraduates.  While I agree with her that excessive focus on the mechanics of citation styles causes unnecessary stress for many students, I am more ambivalent about statements like this:

I have long agreed with Richard Larson who wrote way back in 1982 that the research paper as taught in college is an artificial genre, one that works at cross-purposes to actually developing respect for evidence-based reasoning, a measured appreciation for negotiating ideas that are in conflict, or original thought.

I do have a lot of sympathy for this paragraph, though, since I regularly see struggling students with these problems:

I hate it when students who have hit on a novel and interesting way of looking at an issue tell me they have to change their topic because they can’t find sources that say exactly what they plan to say. I try to persuade them otherwise, but they believe that original ideas are not allowed in “research.” How messed up is that? The other and, sadly, more frequent reference desk winch-making moment involves a student needing help finding sources for a paper he’s already written. Most commonly, students pull together a bunch of sources, many of which they barely understand on a topic they know little about, and do their best to mash the contents up into the required number of pages.

I don’t think the blame is to be placed on the research paper as an assignment, but I do think many undergraduates need a lot of support along the way if they are to write good research papers.  Finding a workable thesis, finding and understanding appropriate scholarly sources, and writing a competent argument are discrete tasks that each require multiple skills; I have trouble covering just the research piece in an hour-long library instruction session.

I do think there are valuable assignments at the undergraduate and even graduate levels that help teach many research paper skills without technically being research papers. In one undergraduate class, I was assigned several papers where the topic was a question, required to be used as the title of the (short) paper and answered within it, using scholarly sources which I had to find.  In another, we were given a controversial topic and a short bibliography of scholarly sources with contrasting viewpoints and required to write a paper assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments.  These types of assignment help teach some of the skills that a research paper does – analysis, critical thinking, and writing a persuasive argument.  Other assignments could be devised to focus more specifically on the thesis-development and research and source evaluation pieces.

While I have seen many students struggle with research papers, I don’t think the answer is to eliminate the research paper at the college level.  I think every college graduate should be able to produce a competent 10-page paper.  But I do agree that many undergraduates do not arrive in college with the skills necessary to do this, and we should be teaching them these skills in a systematic way, and not just throwing them into the process and watching them struggle.

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Are You A Bibliography Nut?

April 15, 2011

Michael E. Smith posted on his blog that he has 18,000 bibliographic references in his EndNote database! Which got me wondering, how do others stack up?  Anyone got him beat? Have you actually read everything in your bibliographic file, or do you, like Smith, add things you “are likely to use”?

I have an interest in the technicalities of scholarly workflow, so I love to read blog posts like this that track the technological changes that have shaped a scholar’s workflow over decades:

It all started early in graduate school, when Clark Erickson showed me his library card catalog drawers full of references written on 3×5 index cards. How cool was that! I immediately started my own program of price supports for the index card manufacturers. Clark and I would make cards for each other when we came across appropriate references. I think I had between 15,000 and 20,000 cards in all. In the 1980s I got up to 1,000 or so citations into the Minark database. What a klunker! OK for very early PC days, I guess, but I soon switched to a bibliography program (I forget which one).

I think I had a Filemaker Pro database for citations on my Mac laptop in the late 1990s, and I definitely remember when my classmate pioneered an early version of EndNote in the department (I think this was about 1999).  I currently use EndNote, RefWorks, and Zotero, though none of them heavily.  But plenty of scholars – from undergraduates to faculty members – still use pieces of paper or Word documents to keep lists of citations. How does a citation management program affect the way scholars work? If you have 18,000 references in a database, are you more or less likely to turn up the right article for the project at hand? I don’t know that anyone’s studied this, and I can’t really conceive how one would do so quantitatively, but I find it as interesting as the transition (or not) from print to digital texts for scholarly work.

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Resource Reviews: Philosophy Bibliographies

April 11, 2011

Jenkins lists four notable general bibliographic works on classical philosophy; several of these are also described in Hans Bynagle, Philosophy: A Guide to the Reference Literature (Libraries Unlimited, 3rd ed., 2006) which we have at UGA (currently at the Repository, I hope soon to move to Main Reference), which is a useful volume in general but its coverage of ancient philosophy is much more limited than Jenkins’.

  • Bell and Allis, Resources in Ancient Philosophy: An Annotated Bibliography of Scholarship in English, 1965-1989 (1991), Main Library 6th Floor B171 .B46 1991.  This is a true annotated bibliography, with short introductions to each section and then a listing of sources with annotations.  Jenkins (no. 855) calls it “an excellent single source” that is “aimed primarily at college students” and notes its focus on recent works in English. Bynagle notes the limitations of the index.
  • Gill, Greek Thought (1995), Main Library 3rd Floor PA25 .G7 no. 25.  This book consists of four essays, on the topics of psychology, ethics, politics, and nature in ancient philosophy, making it a useful resource for those interested in the range of ancient thought on these topics.  Jenkins (no. 857) notes that coverage is from the mid-20th century onwards and there are “extensive bibliographical notes.”
  • Navia, Philosophy of Cynicism: An Annotated Bibliography (1995), Main Library 6th Floor B508 .N38 1995. This is a selective bibliography that contaisn popular as well as scholarly works and cover from the mid-19th century on.  Jenkins (no. 858) is critical of this work, suggesting that it “mingles the introductory, the advanced, and the banal”.
  • Donlan, ed., Classical World Bibliography of Philosophy, Religion, and Rhetoric (1978); we don’t have this at UGA – link is to WorldCat record. This is one in the series of bibliographies that compile essays that originally appeared in Classical World, so its coverage is not comprehensive.  Jenkins (no. 856) gives a useful summary of the topics covered and almost no critique, except to note the lack of an index.

Note I am beginning to collect online open-access scholarly bibliographies on topics in ancient philosophy at the Ancient World Open Bibliographies Wiki.

Previous post in my series on Philosophy resources:

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Dipping my toes into Wikipedia

April 7, 2011

I have talked a lot about the inevitability that students and the general public will turn to Wikipedia as a first resort for information about the ancient world.  But I’d never actually edited a Wikipedia entry.  Then @palaeofuturist (Gabriel Bodard) issued a challenge on Twitter:

How about a #classics #wikipedia hack day? Ask every classicist: “What’s the worst thing about classics coverage in wikipedia?” Then fix it!

I’m not sure how to make a lot of classical scholars edit Wikipedia – though I do like the  idea of a workshop in a department to introduce the concept and provide some basic training.  But I am sure how to make myself edit Wikipedia – sign up and do it.

So I did.  The first step is easy – creating an account is painless and requires only a username and password, not even an email address.  I used my real name – I don’t plan to get into any Wikipedia flame wars, I hope!

Since the discovery of an early-period Linear B tablet at Iklaina has been in the news this week, I thought I’d check to see if this new information had yet been added to the Wikipedia entry on Linear B.  The answer was barely – an added-on sentence in the Chronology section, not integrated into the article as a whole.

So, I prepared to edit the entry.

And then I got stuck before I even began, overwhelmed by the infelicities of the article and deciding on what ought to be covered and how it should be covered better – and I am by no means a specialist in Linear B!  THIS is why scholars don’t spend their time improving Wikipedia entries – it’s actually far harder to edit an article built in layers over years by many people than it is to write an article from scratch. And with the possibility that my edits would simply be reverted by possessive former editors of the article (hypothesized as one reason women are less likely to edit Wikipedia than men), I was doubly daunted.

I’m honestly not sure how to go forward.  I’m really interested in the way I’m feeling about this, but not yet able to articulate it well.  Crowdsourcing is complicated, I guess because the people who make up the crowd are complicated.

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American Numismatic Society Collection

April 6, 2011

Late yesterday a new search interface was unofficially announced for the American Numismatic Society collection database. One-line reviews via twitter so far include “Way cool! Way fast! Way slick!” and “Very, very nice!”  One can filter the collection by Department, Category, Century, Date, Dynasty, Era, Issuer, Material, and Person, among other categories.  You can sort the result set in the same variety of ways (Date on Object and Region or Issuer being the most useful, it seems.)

What’s it good for, if you’re not already studying coins? Off the top of my head, it’s a great resource for scholars or students writing about iconography or images of gods, emperors, god-emperors, etc.  I searched Greek coins for those with Athena on them with images available in the database, and got 2453 of them.  So, that would keep me busy for a while.

Image of the ANS database interface.

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UGA Libraries Classics-Related Acquisitions: March 2011

April 5, 2011

In the four weeks since my last post on this topic, the UGA Libraries added 4547  items to the Main Library collection. Works of interest to those in Classics and related fields include the following (in LC call number order):

  • Examined lives : from Socrates to Nietzsche, Miller, Jim, 1947-.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor B104 .M56 2011
  • Free will : origins of the notion in ancient thought, Frede, Michael.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor B187.F7 F74 2011
  • Plato and the Talmud, Howland, Jacob.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor B395 .H8525 2011
  • Pharmakon: Plato, drug culture, and identity in ancient Athens, Rinella, Michael A. (Michael Anthony)
    Location: Main Library 6th floor B395 .R56 2010
  • On Aristotle on interpretation. 1-3 Boethius, d. 524.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor B439 .B6513 2010
  • Commentary on Aristotle’s Prior analytics : Old Armenian text with an English translation, introduction, and notes, David, the Invincible.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor B440 .D313 2010
  • Being, nature, and life in Aristotle: essays in honor of Allan Gotthelf
    Location: Main Library 6th floor B485 .B383 2010
  • Aristotle on the nature of truth, Long, Christopher P. (Christopher Philip), 1969-
    Location: Main Library 6th floor B491.T78 L66 2010
  • Naturalistic psychology in Galen and stoicism, Gill, Christopher, 1946-
    Location: Main Library 6th floor B577.G24 G55 2010
  • Augustine and philosophy
    Location: Main Library 6th floor B655.Z7 A89 2010
  • Virgin mother goddesses of antiquity, 1st ed., Rigoglioso, Marguerite.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BL325.M6 R54 2010
  • Ancient Greek religion, 2nd ed., Mikalson, Jon D., 1943-
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BL783 .M55 2010
  • Ritual dynamics and religious change in the Roman Empire: proceedings of the eighth Workshop of the International Network Impact of Empire (Heidelberg, July 5-7, 2007) Impact of Empire (Organization). Workshop (8th : 2007 : Heidelberg, Germany)
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BL803 .I57 2007
  • Unreliable witnesses: religion, gender, and history in the Greco-Roman Mediterranean, Kraemer, Ross Shepard, 1948-
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BL815.W6 K73 2011
  • Moment’s ornament: the poetics of nympholepsy in ancient Greece, Pache, Corinne Ondine, 1963-
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BL820.N95 P33 2011
  • Augustine and the Trinity, Ayres, Lewis.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BR65.A9 A98 2010
  • ‘In search of truth’: Augustine, Manichaeism and other gnosticism: studies for Johannes van Oort at sixty
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BR65.A9 I5 2011
  • Last pagans of Rome, Cameron, Alan, 1938-
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BR170 .C36 2011
  • Archaeology of anthropogenic environments
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor CC81 .A68 2010
  • De Lycie en Cabalide: la convention entre les Lyciens et Termessos pres d’Oinoanda, Rousset, Denis.
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor Folio CN350 .R68 2010
  • Origins of aesthetic thought in ancient Greece: matter, sensation, and experience, Porter, James I., 1954-
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DF78 .P76 2010
  • Political economies of the Aegean Bronze Age: papers from the Langford Conference, Florida State University, Tallahassee, 22-24 February 2007 Langford Conference of the Department of Classics (2007 : Florida State University)
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DF220 .L36 2007
  • Marathon: how one battle changed Western civilization, 1st ed., Billows, Richard A.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DF225.4 .B55 2010
  • Ancient Crete: from successful collapse to democracy’s alternatives, twelfth to fifth centuries BC, Wallace, Saro, 1973-
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DF261.C8 W35 2010
  • Est enim ille flos Italiae– : vita economica e sociale nella Cisalpina romana : atti delle giornate di studi in onore di Ezio Buchi, Verona 30 novembre-1 dicembre 2006, 1. ed.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG51 .E78 2008
  • Art in Roman life: villa to grave, De Puma, Richard Daniel, 1942-
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG78 .D47 2009
  • Roman diasporas: archaeological approaches to mobility and diversity in the Roman empire
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG190 .R653 2010
  • Clodia Metelli: the tribune’s sister, Skinner, Marilyn B.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG260.C6 S56 2011
  • Augustus: image and substance, 1st ed., Levick, Barbara.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG279 .L44 2010
  • Empress of Rome: the life of Livia, Dennison, Matthew.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG279.L585 A3 2010
  • Claudius Caesar: image and power in the early Roman empire, Osgood, Josiah, 1974-
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG284 .O84 2011
  • Gruppi di potere nella Roma tardoantica (350-395 d.C.), Poglio, Federico Alberto.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor Folio DG316.7 .P64 2007
  • Berenike and the ancient maritime spice route, Sidebotham, Steven E.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DT73.B375 S4 2011
  • Carthaginians, Hoyos, B. D. (B. Dexter), 1944-
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DT269.C34 H69 2010
  • Kinship myth in ancient Greece, 1st ed., Patterson, Lee E. (Lee Everett), 1968-
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor GN585.G85 P37 2010
  • Searching for the Silures : an Iron Age tribe in South-East Wales, Howell, Raymond, 1947-
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor GN780.22.G7 H68 2009
  • Calabria tirrenica nell’antichita: nuovi documenti e problematiche storiche: atti del convegno, Rende, 23-25 novembre 2000
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor GN818.C28 T47 2008
  • Prehistory of Asia Minor : from complex hunter-gatherers to early urban societies, During, Bleda S.
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor GN855.T83 D87 2011
  • Oxford handbook of social relations in the Roman world
    Location: Main Library 5th floor HN10.R7 O94 2011
  • Children, memory, and family identity in Roman culture
    Location: Main Library 5th floor HQ511 .C55 2010
  • Great cities in history
    Location: Main Library 5th floor HT111 .G74 2009
  • Formation of Roman urbanism, 338-200 B.C.: between contemporary foreign influence and Roman tradition, Sewell, Jamie.
    Location: Main Library 5th floor HT114 .S494 2010
  • Slavery in the Roman world, Joshel, Sandra R. (Sandra Rae), 1947-
    Location: Main Library 5th floor HT863 .J67 2010
  • Peace, war and gender from antiquity to the present: cross-cultural perspectives 1. Aufl. International Congress of Historical Sciences (20th : 2005 : Sydney, N.S,W.)
    Location: Main Library 6th floor JZ6405.W66 I58 2005
  • Architettura Romana i grandi monumenti di Roma
    Location: Main Library 7th floor NA310 .A745 2009
  • Case del potere nell’antica Roma, 1. ed., Carandini, Andrea, 1937-
    Location: Main Library 7th floor NA324 .C25 2010
  • Monumento all’arco nei trionfi dell’antica Roma: un saggio sull’architettare, Paglieri, Rinangelo.
    Location: Main Library 7th floor NA9370.R6 P34 2010
  • How to read Greek vases, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.)
    Location: Main Library 7th floor NK4645 .M475 2010
  • Investigationes Anatolicae: Gedenkschrift fur Erich Neu
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor P945 .S65 no. 52
  • Hesiod, the other poet: ancient reception of a cultural icon, Koning, Hugo H.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA9 .M686 Suppl. no. 325
  • Solon the Athenian, the poetic fragments, Noussia Fantuzzi, Maria.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA9 .M686 Suppl. no. 326
  • Euripides and the language of craft, Stieber, Mary C. (Mary Clorinda)
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA9 .M686 Suppl. no. 327
  • Grandeur de l’homme au siecle de Pericles, Romilly, Jacqueline de.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3015.H43 R64 2010
  • Studi sul romanzo latino, Garbugino, Giovanni.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3040 .G28 2010
  • Allusion, authority, and truth: critical perspectives on Greek poetic and rhetorical praxi
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3095 .A55 2010
  • Archaic and classical Greek epigram
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3123 .A73 2010
  • Pubblico a teatro nella Grecia antica, Loscalzo, Donato.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3201 .L67 2008
  • Matter of the page: essays in search of ancient and medieval authors, Butler, Shane, 1970-
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3521 .B88 2011
  • Aesopi Phrygis Fabulae graece et latine: cum aliis quibusdam opusculis, quorum indicem sequens pagella indicabit.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor Hargrett Rare Books Rare Bk PA3855 .A2 1558
  • Ananios of Kleitor: poems & fragments and their reception from antiquity to the present, Economou, George.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3866.A13 E26 2009
  • Euripides’ Electra: a commentary, Roisman, Hanna.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3973.E5 R65 2011
  • Homer’s Odyssey and the Near East, Louden, Bruce, 1954-
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA4167 .L67 2011
  • Musees de mots: l’heritage de Philostrate dans la litterature occidentale
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA4272.Z5 M87 2010
  • Gleiche im Verschiedenen: Metapher des Sports und Lob des Siegers in Pindars Epinikien, Lattmann, Claas.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA4276 .L38 2010
  • Feminist readings of Antigone
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA4413.A7 F46 2010
  • Fragmenta poetarum Latinorum epicorum et lyricorum : praeter enni annales et Ciceronis Germanicique Aratea, Ed. 4
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6283.A2 F763 2011
  • Iuuenalis; Persius. [Second Aldine edition.]. Juvenal.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor Hargrett Rare Books Rare Bk PA6446 .A2 1515
  • Satyrs of Decimus Junius Juvenalis: and of Aulus Persius Flaccus, The 6th ed., adorn’d with sculptures. Juvenal.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor Hargrett Rare Books Rare Bk PA6447.E5 D7 1735
  • P. Ovidii Nasonis Heroidum epistula 10 : Ariadne Theseo : introduzione, testo e commento, Battistella, Chiara.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6519.H7 B29 2010
  • Commentary on Ovid, Tristia, book 2 , Ingleheart, Jennifer.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6519.T9 I54 2010
  • Theatralite de l’oeuvre ovidienne
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6537 .T44 2009
  • Virgile et l’amour: les Bucoliques, Stroppini, Gianfranco.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6804.B7 S76 2010
  • Father of us all: war and history, ancient and modern, 1st U.S. ed., Hanson, Victor Davis.
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor U27 .H378 2010
  • Reinstating the hoplite: arms, armour and phalanx fighting in archaic and classical Greece, Schwartz, Adam, 1973-
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor U33 .S349 2009
  • Armee romaine et la religion sous le Haut-Empire romain: actes du quatrieme Congres de Lyon (26-28 octobre 2006)
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor U35 .A747 2006