Posts Tagged ‘TLG’

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Annotated Bibliography Assignments

November 11, 2010

For another project (Ancient World Open Bibliographies) I’ve created a Zotero account and am playing around with it, trying to figure out how to easily generate annotated bibliographies using the software (which is a web site plus a Firefox plugin).  Unfortunately right now the answer is that it’s not very easy to annotate bibliographies in a way that lets them be printed or shared, although there are some workarounds.

My search for information on this topic led to me to an interesting assignment, by Brian Croxall, who teaches English Literature.  He had his students find a scholarly resource outside the required reading for the class, and write an annotation (in this case, the annotations were fairly long, more like a short review, in some cases several paragraphs).  His description of the virtues of bibliographic annotation is:

Annotated bibliographies get students experience with some of the important steps of literary scholarship: finding secondary criticism and digesting it. While I could (and might!) just assign the standard end-of-term research paper, the unintended consequence of doing so often results in students looking around for any quotations they can throw in to meet the arbitrary requirement of sources. I hope that annotated bibliographies provoke students to read the other sources more carefully: reading for the source’s own argument rather than how it can fit into one’s paper that is due in 12 hours. An annotated bibliography requires you to take more time, giving you a chance to see what kinds of conversations go on amongst scholars of contemporary literature.

One of of my colleagues who is a teaching model for me is a big fan of annotated bibliography assignments.  She works with one class, for example, in which instead of a paper, the students produce an annotated bibliography of 10 items.  They are required to use no more than 3 popular sources (anything from Glamour to web sites) and no more than 3 of what the professor calls “popular scholarly sources” (I think this term is made up, but what is meant is journalistic sources – newspapers, Time, The New Yorker, etc.).  The class is in the anthropology of food, so for a topic like high fructose corn syrup, a mix of scientific resources explaining what it is and how it is processed by body, journalistic treatments, and fluffy stuff like diet magazines allows the student to turn in a well-rounded exploration of the topic and how it is treated in varying types of sources.  For a different subject, requiring only scholarly sources might be a better fit.  The student gets the experience of doing research for a term paper: finding and evaluating sources.  For the faculty member teaching a large class, grading 75 10-item annotated bibliographies is possible in a way that grading 75 10-page papers is not.  Would this kind of an assignment work for you in your larger classes – or even as a preliminary step in the process of writing a term paper?  My guess is it would lead to better papers if required and graded.

As an aside, I would love to see more online discussions and repositories of good assignments, assignments that worked, for classics and ancient studies.  Some faculty blog about their teaching but I found, for example, when I was trying to think of a good assignment for a graduate class that would incidentally teach them to use TLG, that Google was a howling wasteland in this area.  I don’t teach regular classes, only one-shot library instruction sessions, but I do see part of my role as working with faculty to help brainstorm about what assignments work for what learning goals.  I hope to be able to put more ideas on this blog.

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Open Access Week for Classicists

October 21, 2010

The 4th annual Open Access Week is October 18-24, 2010. What does it mean for a classicist?

Open access resources are those that are available to all online, without the payment of a subscription by a university library or department or individual.  For many students and faculty based at large research institutions in the United States, it is easy to take access to appropriate scholarly resources  for granted.  Many undergraduates  I work with are surprised to discover that the UGA library pays for access to Jstor.  I field queries from students who are perplexed that a web site is asking them to pay $30 for a scholarly article they found using Google, and recent graduates who are distressed that they no longer have free access to Lexis Nexis.  And consider those who are based at small and/or ill-funded academic institutions, both in the US and abroad, and rely heavily on interlibrary loan and/or database license restriction-violating friends at larger institutions (who email them .pdfs or share passwords).

It is relatively easy to embrace the principle that scholarly information should be freely disseminated and available to all – but real life and the economics of scholarly publishing make open access more complicated.  To explore these issues, the Association for Research Libraries  has an Open Access initiative called SPARC.  SPARC produces a brochure (pdf) that is much more eloquent than I can be about the benefits of open access, and the web site has sections on economics and campus policies.  A few campuses have had their faculty commit to publishing their research in open access repositories, and many campuses have digital repositories, usually based in the libraries, to adequately organize and store various open access materials, which can range from digitized historic documents to data sets to student papers (including dissertations) to scholarly research by faculty.

Open Access: You’re Already Using It

Some of the best-loved and most heavily used online resources for Classics research are open access: Perseus, the core collection of the TLG, and Lacus Curtius, to name some of the most popular.

The blog AWOL: The Ancient World Online has been collecting scholarly journals and other resources relevant to ancient studies that are open access, and has amassed an impressively long lost of titles.

The Hathi Trust catalog is an important scholarly site to be aware of.  Supported by major US research libraries,  it has online full-text of many scholarly works that are out of copyright, and the indexing and searchability are better than Google Books (which is also a valuable resource for open-access scholarly books and a few journals.)

What have I missed?  Tell me the best scholarly resource you use online for Classics research that is open-access.  I am certain I am missing many non-US ones!

Open Access: How You Can Contribute

As a teacher and scholar, you can help promote open access resources by:

  • Recommending them to your students and colleagues.
  • Publishing your scholarly papers in open access journals, especially if you are past the tenure process and can actually attract readers to these often newer journals because of your well-known name.
  • Looking closely at your contracts with publishers when you sign them.  If they don’t allow you to keep copyright of your own works, consider asking for an amendment of the agreement.
  • For scholarly works for which you hold the copyright, consider posting them online as free .pdf files, making them de facto open access.  A personal or departmental web site is a good place for this (you can link .pdf files to an online CV, for example) or a ‘scholarly social networking site’ like Academia.edu makes the process easy.

Are there other ideas I have missed?  Have questions about Open Access?  Let me know!

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Yes, Homer on your iPads, Please!

September 20, 2010

I am turning in a grant application today – a grant for funds to purchase a pool of Kindle e-book readers on behalf of the digital library I work in, to be used in classes experimenting with digital reading, writing, and researching using e-book readers.  Our pilot class is in the English department, but I’m hoping to interest some Classics faculty in the project if it gets funded.  So the recent buzz-generating Chronicle of Higher Ed article about the e-book reader “discouragement” (not a ban!) at St. John’s College in Annapolis has kept popping up while I’ve been writing.

Here’s what I sent to  my work list-serv when someone circulated the article:

Just for the record, y’all, Digital Classics is a large and growing field, and the massive and esteemed collection of digital texts of ancient Greek (Thesaurus Linguae Gracae; http://www.tlg.uci.edu/ which has core texts available to the public and a full collection to which UGA Classics subscribes) was begun in 1972!!  And you can read it on your iPad.

If our grant is funded, I plan to be embedded in the upper-level English class that’s the pilot (Environmental Literature – should be interesting!) to experience and observe how (if!) reading a text – and we’ll be sampling novels, essays, and poetry as well as criticism – differs when an e-book reader is the medium.  We’ll also look to see if the classroom dynamic changes when all the course texts are available on a single device everyone brings to class, allowing easier consultation and cross-referencing.  I’ll also be working to get all course readings available either through reserves, through free online text for out-of-copyright works (while consulting with the faculty member to choose appropriate editions) or by linking students to texts for sale.   (And why aren’t we asking for iPads?  Because while they are way cool, they also cost more than three times what the new Kindles do, and for literature, I don’t see much benefit to their added capabilities, i.e. color, easier video, etc.)

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Resource Reviews: Greek Dictionaries

July 12, 2010

Greek language dictionaries are less numerous and diverse than the Latin.  According to Jenkins, there is really only once choice for a basic Greek dictionary: Liddell, Scott, Jones (LSJ), available in three sizes, discussed by Jenkins as no. 511. 512, 513 (are undergraduates still taught to call them the Little Liddell, Middle Liddell, and Great Scott?).  It covers Greek from Homer to ca. 600 AD.  The UGA Libraries have multiple copies and multiple editions, and keep the 1996 reprint of the Greek-English Lexicon (Jenkins’ no. 511) in the Reference collection (Main Reference PA445 .E5 L6 1996).  The 1940 printing – the same basic edition, the 9th, as the 1996, but lacking the revised supplement – is available online through Perseus.  Most undergraduates and many graduate students will use the Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (Jenkins no. 513) for their day-to-day needs; it is widely available new in the $45 price range.  LSJ is not available digitally as part of the Premium Collection of Oxford Reference Online or  Oxford Language Dictionaries Online.

"middle Liddell" - by marmaduk at flickr, under a creative commons license

The only other general Greek-English dictionary discussed by Jenkins is the old print Thesaurus  Graecae Linguae (no. 505), which he describes as, “based on obsolete texts and methods” (with origins in the Renaissance) and of use now only to specialists; UGA’s copy remains in Main Reference at PA442 .E8 1954.

For examples of use, scholars are directed to the digital Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG, no. 519), a much-heralded and appreciated resource which is one of the pioneering works of digital humanities (begun in 1972!).  The TLG includes the digitized, searchable text of “virtually all Greek texts surviving from the period between Homer (8 c. B.C.) and the fall of Byzantium in A.D. 1453,” and includes “more than 105 million words from over 10,000 works associated with 4,000 authors” (source: their history pages). The UGA Libraries do not subscribe to the TLG, but the Classics Department does, and several of the computers in the Gantz Computer Lab in Park Hall have registered IP addresses.  Many of the most commonly used texts in TLG are part of the freely available Abridged Online version.

Etymological dictionaries and those that cover New Testament or Byzantine Greek will be discussed in future posts.