Classically Inclined

May 24, 2019

A general update

Filed under: Research,Teaching — lizgloyn @ 9:28 am
Tags: , , ,

Most of the posts on here recently have been in support of teachers and students working on the Love and Relationships option for the OCR Classical Civilization A-level – there’s more of that to come (and do get in touch if you have any suggestions for topics to cover!), but I thought I’d take a moment to write a bit about what else is going on.

We are in the middle of marking mayhem here – I’m working through my first year Roman Literature exam scripts, with the promise of my Latin Language & Reading exams dropping into my lap this afternoon, with everything needing to be marked and moderated by Thursday. It’s a tight turn-around, but doable if nothing else gets done. It’s been quite a good year for teaching – I want to write in more detail about my Contemporary Approaches to Latin Literature course, but for now, I’ve had bright and engaged students in all my courses who have pushed me to do better. One thing that I did notice is that there is a world of difference between teaching my first year Roman literature survey to students in the first term, as I did this year, and the second term, as I usually do. I usually meet the first years once they’ve worked out how assignments work, how to follow the style guide (more or less). how to navigate the library catalogue and JSTOR. This year, I met them when they had none of that experience, and I had to do a bit of rapid adjustment to give them the support they needed. It’s a really obvious thing, I know, but I’ve never caught this course in the autumn before, and it caught me a bit off balance.

I’ve really enjoyed the texts I’ve been teaching to the Latin Language & Literature students – Seneca’s De Brevitate Vitae and Plautus’ Amphitruo, both of which have done interesting things for my understanding of those particular texts and for my Latin grammar. I last taught Latin L&R in my first year at Royal Holloway, with the De Brevitate Vitae as a set text, and there was something quite gratifying about coming back to it and realising how much better my Latin has got over the intervening years. Now, of course, I have to make sure that I don’t assume my students know Thing X because Everybody Knows Thing X when actually I know Thing X because I’ve been handling Latin for mumble years.

In terms of research, the main crunch this year has been the Monster book – now with the proper and exciting title of Tracking Monsters in Popular Culture (available for pre-order now…). The turn-around on this has been much faster than I anticipated – I submitted a full manuscript at the end of July, and expected reader comments back in December; they arrived in October/early November, which meant the date for delivering the final manuscript was the end of February, not after Easter… I worked hectically to meet this deadline, more for myself than for anything else, but it did mean essentially doing eight weeks’ worth of hours in six weeks after Christmas. The book went into production – and the proofs arrived with a two week turnaround deadline just as my dissertations needed marking and the Women’s Classical Committee UK AGM needed planning and attending! Those have gone back now, but I think it’s safe to say that the monstrosity inside this book has leaked out into the production process.

In terms of other research, I’m in a slightly odd position of having been absolutely rigorous about blocking out a research day during term, but now doing no research at all. Part of that is to keep on top of marking mayhem, and part of it is that I need a bit of peace and quiet to jump-start working on the next projects. On the plus side, I will be on research sabbatical in the autumn and the spring, which means no teaching or administration. The plan is to get started on the second Seneca book, which will look at the family ethics of his tragedies, along with turning a couple of conference papers which also look at drama into proper publications, but that’s a bit intellectual shift from monsters. So the current plan is to clear the decks of admin and marking (hopefully by next week!) and then focus on getting back into Latin literature gear.

There should start to be a bit more activity on this blog, not least because of the sorts of questions that research sabbaticals throw up and that are good to write out in this forum. However, the reality of the thing is that it’s always going to be an optional extra, and in crunch periods it’s one of the first things to go.

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