Classically Inclined

October 1, 2013

Those summer goals… 2013 edition

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 12:41 pm
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At the end of June, I set myself some summer goals – so it’s now time to see how they turned out…

Personal

  • Have a holiday – achieved! We spent a week in Germany and I had a week in Suffolk, so that’s not bad going.
  • Move – achieved! Although now it looks like I’ll be moving again in the next couple of months as we have (quite excitingly) bought a house, but never mind.

Conferences

The Book

  • Finish sorting out the new chapter four – not-quite-achieved… well, when I wrote my summer goals post, I had a very rough full draft with incomplete footnotes. I now have a chapter that has been past my reading group and thus needs some fairly heavy-weight restructuring, but I know what I’m doing with it. So getting this done involved the first draft being more or less fine, which it wasn’t. This is actually OK, and getting this into shape will be my big autumn project.
  • Complete revisions on introduction and chapters one to three – achieved! The appendix still needs going over and I will need to rewrite the paragraph in the introduction which describes what chapter four does, but that’s fine.

Miscellanea

  • Complete a book review – achieved!
  • Do an archive trip to Cambridge if possible – achieved! And very positive it was too.
  • Put together a proper research bibliography on Plautus and Roman comedy – possibly achieved? I had an undergraduate student working with me who was putting this together as a bit of an independent research project over the summer, and am waiting to see the final files before I count this as done. But at least that’s a start made!

I said in my original goals post that the focus this summer needed to be on the book. I think it was, not least for getting the earlier chapters sorted out (they needed rather more work than I had hoped, but that’s always the way). This was a more ambitious set of goals than I set last year, but I’ve still actually done quite well in comparison. I do notice some patterns, namely the tendency to bite off more than I can chew on the research front – but I’m assuming that’s a good thing. I’d rather be overambitious than less, not least because the process of working through this stuff makes it better than it would be if I just fudged along. So autumn is going to be all about trying to sort out chapter four, and I should really start thinking about my classical women chapter as well. I draw a veil over my current interior dialogue over whether to submit something for LonCon3’s academic track and/or for From I, Claudius, to Private Eyes: the Ancient World and Popular Fiction, although that may turn up here in due course…

June 24, 2013

Summer goals 2013

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 2:10 pm
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Last year, I found having a set of summer goals surprisingly useful in making sure my work was targeted and well-organised, so I’m going to have another go at it. That’s not to say that I managed to meet all of my goals, of course, but part of the point of strategy is to have a plan and see whether or not it’s a realistic one. Something that’s becoming more and more clear is that I need to be thinking practically about ways that I can keep my research moving over the year to respect the different patterns that the academic year imposes upon academics. The same strategies that work for the summer won’t work in the middle of term, for instance. After an academic year where I’ve been pretty dedicated about carving out half an hour here or there for research, I’m finding that to have days without anything else in them is slightly disconcerting – hence the need for some proper goals to create a bit of structure and order.

Personal

  • Have a holiday! This turned up last year, but it is an important goal, and one that needs acknowledging.
  • Move. This is going to be fairly straightforward, as I have somewhere to move to sorted, but the end of August is going to involve a bit of logistics-wrangling.

Conferences

The Book

  • Finish sorting out the new chapter four.
  • Complete revisions on introduction and chapters one to three.

Miscellanea

  • Complete a book review.
  • Do an archive trip to Cambridge if possible.
  • Put together a proper research bibliography on Plautus and Roman comedy.

There’s a lot of small stuff drifting around the edges, but the main focus over the summer really does have to be on The Book. I’ve made quite big strides with getting the new chapter written during term time, but now I need to pull it all together and get it to a stage where I can send what I have off. Wish me luck!

October 15, 2012

So, those summer goals…

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 10:57 am
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Back at the end of July, I wrote about my summer goals for the upcoming vacation – perhaps a little late, but better late than never. One of the tricks to setting goals, of course, is to look back over them and see how one has done, so in the spirit of intellectual honesty, here is a quick review!

Personal

  • Have a holiday – achieved! I managed to have not one but two of these, counting the honeymoon, so I get a pat on the back for that.
  • Get married – achieved! This happened, and happened successfully! All the hard work and planning that went into it paid off, and it was a lovely day.

Abstracts

  • Classical Association 2013achieved! I followed my instincts and put together an abstract thinking about Seneca’s De Matrimonio; I’m now waiting for the conference organisers to let me know their decision, which should come through by the end of this month.
  • Swords, Sorcery, Sandals and Space: The Fantastika and the Classical Worldachieved! Alright, this got done in the weekend before the deadline, but never mind. The abstract also fell into place nicely with the ideas I was tinkering with and what the texts actually said, which is always a nice surprise. The conference organisers should be in touch at some point this month.

Publishing

  • Condense Chapter Five – achieved! The summer goal was to tighten the chapter up and have it with the editor by mid-August, and I managed that. However, I also managed to do a first stage of edits and refinements that the editor suggested, and am now awaiting a second batch. So this is still a work in progress, but it’s moving along at a healthy speed.
  • Revise and Resubmit the Ad Polybium – almost achieved! No, the Ad Polybium article still hasn’t made it out of my hands, but it’s so very very nearly there. I have set firm limits on how much more reading I’m going to do (one German book down and one to go), and after that it’s a question of checking that the writing is Good Enough and letting it go. So very nearly within my grasp – but not quite there.

All in all, I think that looks like a pretty productive summer. I do wish I had got the Ad Polybium article out of the way, but I feel a lot better for setting firm boundaries about how much energy I’m willing to give it and the end of the tunnel is looking fairly close. There have been substantial improvements from the version that went to the journal originally, and that in and of itself is good enough for now. I also want to get my attention focused on the process of revising the Book, especially as I have a slot coming up at the end of November in the department’s Work in Progress seminar – I want them to have a look at a hacked-about version of my first chapter, and in order to get that into shape, I need to start paying it some serious attention!

July 31, 2012

Summer goals

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 11:35 am
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Lately, my bit of the Twittersphere has been talking about how best to survive the summer. There have been two threads to this discussion. The first has focused around how to formulate and tackle summer goals – Flora Poste seemed to start the trend on this. The second has looked at ways of using the summer as a space to decompress and recharge – that was what I took away from the last #femlead chat I attended, and you can read the Storify archive if you’re interested. Summer may be late coming in this year, but I thought it was probably a good thing to share my summer goals now that they’ve actually solidified! They’ve also changed a lot since the summer started, mainly because of some unexpected opportunities that have turned up; now is (oddly enough) probably the right time to post them, especially as I’m extending my definition of summer to ‘when term starts’. My overarching aim is to Get Some Research Out There And Stay Sane, which doesn’t sound like it should be too difficult… (famous last words).

Personal

  • Have a holiday – what I spent last week doing, so this gets a big tick.
  • Get married – happening in early September, so a lot of energy is going into organising this and it only seems fair to acknowledge it!

Abstracts

Publishing

  • Condense Chapter Five – this would be the completely unexpected opportunity of the summer. I’ve been asked whether I’d like to submit a piece to a collected volume of a conference I was unable to attend last year (it was in Paris on the same day I was graduating with my PhD in New Jersey…), but the deadline is quite tight. My current Major Goal is to have the chapter tidied up and in line with editorial guidelines by the middle of this month. Fingers crossed!
  • Revise and Resubmit the Ad Polybium – oh, this article. I’ve made some progress so far over the summer, but not quite enough. Having to read a lot of work in foreign languages that ultimately turns out to have nothing relevant to contribute isn’t helping (for more on which, see Mary Beard’s latest piece on damn footnotes). I’ve had a first go at revising it, and now have some helpful comments from my reading group, and a whole pile more reading to do – but there’s no deadline. So once I’ve got chapter five out of the way, I’ll sit down and do some more heavy lifting with it.

If all goes according to plan, at the end of the summer I will be well rested and married, have submitted two abstracts, have two pieces off seeking their fortunes with their spotted handkerchiefs, and be ready to pick up the thesis manuscript and get properly stuck into revisions. Fingers crossed!

September 19, 2011

The eroticization of knowledge in the Priapea – a preview

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 4:10 am
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I seem to be having a good run with abstracts at the moment – first I was accepted for the Animating Antiquity conference (for which, incidentally, booking is now open), and now I’ve heard that I’ve had my paper accepted for Feminism and Classics VI in May! This is brilliant news for two reasons. First, it means I get to go back to North America and check in with some of my friends and colleagues from my six years in the US – you know, reassure them I haven’t grown an extra head, that sort of thing. Second, it finally gives me a chance to road-test an idea I’ve been sitting on since 2007 and that I’ve wanted the opportunity to come back to.

Every year, the Rutgers classics department participates in something called Latinfest, or the Latin Day Colloquium if you want to be more formal about it, along with Columbia, NYU, Penn and Princeton. The idea is to take a relatively unfamiliar Latin text which hasn’t had a great deal of scholarship done on it, and to put it at the centre of a day’s conference/seminar/discussion. Each of the five schools takes a section of the text, and graduates from each school give a short presentation on various relevant topics before opening up to more general discussion on each segment. It’s a great way of presenting in a friendly atmosphere and exploring an unfamiliar text, and I’m actually quite keen to import it to the UK. (I think one of Penn’s graduates has already taken the idea successfully to Germany, so there is precedent.) (more…)

June 6, 2011

How to write a conference abstract

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 11:00 am
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In my hints and tips for attending conferences, I did not address the question of how to write a good conference abstract.  This post attemps to remedy that omission by discussing what goes into a good conference abstract, and how to go about writing one. This comes, as usual, specifically from my experience as a classicist, but hopefully some of the general points will transfer over to other humanities fields. Any other thoughts are very welcome!

First, pick your conference. Find a call for papers (or CFP) that looks interesting and relevant to your research. Classicists should keep an eye on the Liverpool classics e-mail list and Rogue Classicism. Other good sources are the Women’s Classical Caucus e-mail list (membership is very reasonable!), and the American Philological Association CFP page.

Study the CFP carefully to see if your work fits. Make sure that whatever you are planning to submit to the conference fits within the specifics of the CFP. For instance, in the graduate student conference I ran, our CFP clearly stated that we were looking for papers dealing with contemporary popular culture (broadly defined). When we got an abstract for a paper which looked at material from the 1850s, we found it easy to rule that particular abstract out, as interesting as it sounded – it didn’t fit the theme we had outlined in the CFP. This doesn’t mean you should never take a risk with something a bit outside the CFP, but be warned that it might work against you.

Study the CFP carefully for key information. In particular, find the word limit for your abstract. In Classics, this is normally 300 words, although you might see 250 or 400. Also check for any other requirements, like what to do if you will need to project a Powerpoint presentation; how long your talk should be; the deadline for submission; and how to submit your abstract. This may be by e-mailing the abstract to the conference organisers or a central e-mail address, or via an on-line system.

Focus your argument. The CFP should tell you how long your talk should be for this particular conference. Make sure that the paper you propose can fit into that length of time. If you only have fifteen minutes, don’t propose to talk about your entire thesis. Pick an appropriately-sized chunk of one chapter (or of an article) that will stand up as an argument on its own. Alternatively, try to hone your central point to fit within the time limit. Your abstract has to sound as if it is feasible for the allotted time, or else it doesn’t stand a chance. (more…)

May 18, 2011

Monsters, landscape and gender in Clash of the Titans – a preview

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 8:48 am
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Good news! I have had an abstract accepted for the Enduring Monsters conference, which is going to celebrate the films of Ray Harryhausen and their contribution to the classical tradition in film for the last however-many years. I’m very excited about this opportunity, both as a chance to meet people in the UK reception circuit I’ve not yet had the pleasure to meet, and to speak about something that means I get to talk about my research interests of film, space and gender in one neat and interesting package.Bubo the Owl

I thought I’d do a quick outline the abstract that was accepted, just to give you a flavour of what the final talk will look like. The title of my paper is “The dragon-green, the luminous, the dark, the serpent-haunted sea”: Monsters, landscape and gender in Clash of the Titans (1981 and 2010).  So, I’m talking about the original Harryhausen Clash of the Titans  and the recent 2010 remake, and comparing the ways in which the two films handle monsters and landscapes. Monsters, after all, don’t just turn up – they have to turn up somewhere. As I was watching the 1981 Clash as preliminary research for writing this abstract (and yes, I love my job), it struck me that whenever monsters appeared, water was somehow involved. They appeared in oceans, close to lakes or in swamps. They also all had a fundmental connection back to the sea goddess Thetis. She’s a fairly minor character in the traditional corpus of Greek myth, primarily noted for being the mother of Achilles, but in the 1981 Clash her desire to avenge her previously unknown son-turned-monster Calibos drives the plot. The film seems to construct this very intricate set of interactions between water, monster and female.

When I went to look at the 2010 Clash remake, of course, no such pattern appeared, not least because  the film cuts Thetis and reinstates a kind of traditional three brother-gods ruling creation kind of mythic world view that’s totally lacking in the 1981 Clash. But the loss of Thetis actually severely impoverishes the film on a number of levels, not least narrative thrust, but also conceptual unity of its monsters. You get episodic set pieces rather than plot coherence. You also get monsters who appear in radically disparate landscapes, without any connecting elements. Some of this is due to the increased possibilities offered by CGI and other modern technology; some of it is driven by the demands created by the Hollywood Summer Blockbuster genre.  But the loss of that central concept of “monster”, and a sense of connectedness to the locations in which the plot takes place, means you lose a lot of the complexity that makes the 1981 Clash such a pleasurable viewing experience.

So, my paper is going to set out what I see as the connections between gender, landscape and the monsterous in the 1981 film, how the 2010 remake deals with these issues differently to emphasise different things, and what those changes tell us both about the shift in the nature of classical reception of the thirty or so years between the two films and about Harryhausen’s legacy to the film industry. Given the very self-conscious way that the 2010 Clash includes a couple of set pieces (not least of which, the giant scorpions) to show how it is superior as a remake, no, really, it’s actually interesting that a choice to return to a more “faithful” version of classical myth actually leads to a weaker film.

I should also note that I’m kind of interested to see how this question of space, gender and monsters plays out in the sequel to the 2010 Clash that we are supposedly anticipating. Courtesy of the Rogue Classicist, I picked up a piece on Cinemaspy.com that brings us photos of filming on Tenerife – most notably ruddy big boats. Clearly at the moment, the sea is playing an important role in the sequel – will it regain the prominence it had in Harryhausen’s original? I suppose we’ll just have to see what comes out at the box office.

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