Classically Inclined

December 17, 2012

End of term wrap-up

What with one thing and another, I’ve been run off my feet for the last fortnight or so. Term has now officially been over for a week, but I don’t feel as if I’ve got the paperwork and administration for everything quite under control yet. It’s getting there, but there are a couple of things that still need finishing off. I have, of course, finished all my teaching. The Roman novel first year seminar is working much more smoothly than it did last year; this is partly due to the department increasing seminar lengths from one to two hours across the board, meaning there’s more space for presentations and discussions, but I think the tweaks to the syllabus that I made at the start of the year have paid off as well. There’s still one class that isn’t quite working as I want it to work, but I’ve had another go at redefining the discussion questions, so we’ll see if that helps. It is, in fairness, the class dealing with literary form (e.g. why are parts of the Satyricon in poetry, and do we care?), so I think it’s going to be a case of continually experimenting until I get the formula right. I shall miss my first year tutees, who will be disappearing off to pastures new, but it will be good to meet some more of the first year intake next term.

The Roman Life Course lectures are going well – I have a good group of students, and we’ve established what feels like a productive discussion-based atmosphere to complement the parts of the session where I lecture more traditionally. The material seems to be engaging the students’ interest, and I’m sneakily incorporating as much philosophical evidence for social history as I can – one of the surprise hits was Plutarch’s The Training of Children, which seems to have gone over rather well! The blog posts are still working more or less as I want them to, and the students seem to like the idea of blog-based work in principle even if the practice is a little shakier. I’m also glad that I decided to stick it out with the critical incident questionnaire, for the simple reason that it’s really helping me see what is and isn’t working with this sort of teaching.

As far as intermediate Greek is concerned, my initial assumptions were right – I’ve had more than enough to keep me busy just in keeping up with the textbook and what I need to cover without trying to introduce any other pedagogical innovation. That’s fine – we’re motoring along at a sedate but consistent speed, and I feel as if I can begin applying the accelerator as we get into next term. We’re going to read as much of Lysias’ On The Murder of Eratosthenes as I can get them through, in addition to the textbook material, so that should be an interesting challenge!

And now, I hear you ask, what does the Christmas holiday hold? Feet up in front of the fire and the knowledge of a job well done? Well, no, sadly. My jolly Christmas jobs consist of the following:

  • Finally finally put the ad Polybium article to bed after reading Kassel’s  1958 Untersuchungen zur griechischen und romischen Konsolations-literatur (which, having been available for neither love nor ready money at the British Library, the fantastic Birmingham Interlibrary Loan team had to obtain from Aberdeen);
  • Do the revisions of the Harryhausen article, which primarily consist of watching Wrath of the Titans (2012) and a few semantic tweaks in the original draft;
  • Finish revising chapters two and three of the dissertation and rewrite copious portions of the introduction.

This last was, of course, my overall goal for #acwrimo 2012, which I am afraid rather got away from me. When I last commented on my progress, I said I thought I had set an unattainable goal, and I was right – I only got about a third of the way through revising chapter three. But I still made a big impact on the task; without the sudden descent of unexpected week 10 admin, I might have even got a bit further through.  I want to have this portion of the manuscript sorted and with the publisher by January (she types, forever the optimist), so at least I have some direction and some intentions to work with. But I do need to get the ad Polybium and the Harryhausen article out of the way first – the former has been hanging around for far too long (see blog posts passim), and the latter is governed by other people’s deadlines.

So, no rest for the wicked – but, with any luck, I will have plenty crossed off my to-do list before resuming the teaching mantle.

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