Classically Inclined

May 15, 2012

The Fortunata article is now out!

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 10:58 am
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I’m delighted to be able to announce that my first peer reviewed article has now appeared in print! “She’s Only A Bird In A Gilded Cage: Freedwomen At Trimalchio’s Dinner Party” appears in the latest edition of Classical Quarterly.

Fortunata’s journey to this point has been rather long and arduous; it started back in the autumn of 2006, when I wrote a graduate seminar paper offering a close reading of the chapter which now forms the core of the article itself. I submitted the article to the Winkler Memorial Prize, and although it didn’t win, it did produce an encouraging e-mail from one of the judging panel. So I carried on trying to refine and rework the piece, through an outright journal rejection, and then a revise and resumbit for Classical Quarterly that happily was then accepted. I doubt any of my work is going to have a pedigree that rooted in my early academic career (unless I go back to my undergraduate thesis to see what I can salvage), so it’s wonderful to see her finally in print.

What spurred me to write the original seminar paper was the good old academic vice of close reading. I noticed features of the text which didn’t make sense, and wanted to know why. These features centered on Fortunata, the wife of the nouveau riche Trimalchio who throws an extravagant dinner party in the Satyricon, a Roman novel by Petronius. The dinner party episode is one of the best preserved sections of the novel, so we can say a lot more about context and characterisation than we can about characters who turn up elsewhere. But all of the secondary literature I found didn’t address the character of Fortunata in a systematic or significant way. The most she got was a couple of disparaging lines commenting on her past life as a prostitute. And, it seemed to me, this was not a conclusion supported by what the text actually said.

(more…)

January 11, 2012

Turning over a new leaf – page proofs for the Fortunata article

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 2:35 pm
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You may remember that I’m going to have an article published in the May edition of Classical Quarterly on Fortunata in the Cena Trimalchionis. When I was on holiday last week, the page proofs finally arrived! I’m quite glad I popped into the office last Friday to have a survey of my inbox, as it meant I could spend the weekend looking over the proofs and return them in a timely fashion.

They also came with an order form for hard-copy offprints, an oddity now that all authors are provided with a PDF version of their article – far easier to circulate and share with people who would like to see it. The expense involved in providing offprints is reflected in the costs for 25, 50 or even 200 hard copies of articles – and I’m afraid that I baulked at the prices, more because I can think of very few people who would want a hard copy, let alone to whom I would like to give one. PDFs all round, I suspect.

The first thing that particularly struck me was the speed of turnaround requested; I was asked to return proofs within three days of receipt. They arrived in my inbox on Thursday, so I presume that getting them out by Monday was near enough as makes no odds, but it is possibly the quickest part of the publishing process that I have yet experienced. I had been warned that I would be expected to return proofs swiftly, but this is a little swifter than I had bargained for.

Mind you, nothing takes away from the wonderful feeling of actually seeing the words I have spent so long working with in proper, journal-ready, formatted print. I also found it a strange experience to read something I know used to look rather different, and find myself thinking ‘oh, yes, this was the original opening section’, or ‘crikey, I could have written that better’ – but these proofs are for typographical errors only, not content changes. Besides, if I always made more edits when I thought I could phrase something better, I’d never submit anything. Sometimes you just have to let go.

But I suppose this is part of the point of this process, from a psychological rather than a practical point of view. Realistically speaking, most of the typos should have been caught by the time the article makes its way to a journal for its first consideration, so the checking of proofs ideally is a formality. But it’s also an opportunity for closure – for saying goodbye to all that hard work, acknowledging that it is about to be committed to print and that you can’t change it any more. This is no bad thing, as it frees up the mind to think about other projects, but it places the closing seal on the work done. Strange how difficult it is to let work leave your hands and seek its fortune in the wider academic world, but it has to happen for it to take part in the wider conversation. Perhaps that’s the reason behind giving such a tight turn-around time for returning proofs – to stop us feverishly reading through the manuscript just once more, just in case we’ve missed something.

October 26, 2011

Forthcoming article: “She’s Only A Bird in a Gilded Cage: Freedwomen at Trimalchio’s Dinner Party”

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 8:32 pm
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I’m delighted to be able to share the very exciting news that my first article, “She’s Only A Bird in a Gilded Cage: Freedwomen at Trimalchio’s Dinner Party”, is now scheduled for publication; it will appear in volume 62.1 of Classical Quarterly in May 2012.

For me, this is enormously important for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is that it’s going to be my first piece of serious peer-reviewed scholarship, and to have it appear in a prestigious journal like Classical Quarterly is a great start to the academic career. However, the idea at the kernel of the article, that there is more to the freedwomen in the Cena Trimalchionis of Petronius’ Satyricon than you would think from the scholarly consensus, has been with me a long time. I wrote a seminar paper on basically the same material in autumn 2006, submitted it for a prize in 2007, didn’t get the prize but got quite a bit of encouragement, and the paper’s basically evolved from there. It went to a different journal first and got rejected, but I got useful feedback that I took on board, so when Classical Quarterly asked me to revise and resubmit I was more than happy to do so. And now that article, that’s been through so many incarnations and which I’ve spent so long working on, is going to be sent to me in proof form to approve in January.

I can’t quite believe this is happening, actually. The unspoken goal of graduate school was to get something published, get something out there. (I misfired at first and tried to get my MPhil thesis out – this was a bad idea, but you can only judge these things in retrospect and it made sense at the time.) And now my very first article is almost there. I have no idea how many people will read it, or indeed how many people will agree or disagree with it. But it’s going to be real. It’s been a long process, and it’s very nearly over – and, I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure how I feel about that now the end is in sight. Oddly bereft, I think.

But there’s still the examination of the proofs to go. I don’t have to say goodbye to this project just yet.

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