Greco-Roman Classics in China: The Case of Virgil

Jinyu Liu poster

Jinyu Liu, Professor and Chair of Classics at DePauw University

April 10, 2014, 4:30 p.m.

Dickinson College, Stern Center 103

Vergil has never incurred any serious scholarly or popular attention in China until the end of the twentieth century. The sporadic and limited translations of Virgil’s works in China are in sharp contrast to his enduring influence in the West and the general popularity of the Homeric epics in China. What factors, then, might have hindered Virgil,who was proclaimed as the “Father of the West” (Theodor Haecker) and “classic of all Europe” (T. S. Eliot), to gain some stature in China in the periods of intense Westernization? What led to the small surge of interest in Virgil in China in the last few decades?  Stepping out of the Euro-centric approaches to Virgil, this paper uses Virgil in China as a case study to tap into the broader issues of the Chinese selection of Western classics and the viability of Western classics in a non-Western context.

Annotating with Poetry Genius and House Divided

David Foster Wallace’s annotated copy of Don Delillo’s Players, from the Harry Ransom Research Center in Austin, TX. http://bit.ly/1ef5ziL

David Foster Wallace’s annotated copy of Don Delillo’s Players, from the Harry Ransom Research Center in Austin, TX. http://bit.ly/1ef5ziL

From scribbled marginalia  to full-scale scholarly treatises that gobble the works on which they comment, text annotation is one of the most basic and diverse activities of the humanities. Its purposes embrace the intensely personal, the didactic, and the evangelical. It serves all kinds of communities, from the classroom to the law court, from the synagogue to the university research library.

The movement of text annotation to an online environment is still very much a work in progress. There are many platforms attempting to marry original text and a stream of added comments, some attractive and functional, some awkward. Crowd-sourced annotation is being tried in many corners, and sometimes it catches on (check out the remarkable wiki commentaries on the novels of Thomas Pynchon), sometimes they build it and nobody comes.

Rap Genius and its sister sites Poetry Genius and Education Genius are the most exciting recent entrants into this field. What distinguishes these sites is first the astonishing ease and flexibility of the interface. The mere selecting of a chunk of text allows one to add not just a typed comment but audio, video, links to parallel passages, embedded tweets, virtually anything digital. The other good thing about the Genius sites is the way they tap into existing communities of fans, readers, teachers, and students. Education Genius is well-funded by venture capital and has a staff that talks directly to teachers, works to make the site useful to students, and builds bridges with other sites and institutions.

A case in point is the emerging collaboration of Education Genius with Dickinson’s House Divided Project. An annotated version of Abraham Lincoln’s 1859 autobiographical sketch is now available at Poetry Genius, and represents the beginning of partnership between the House Divided Project and the Genius platform spearheaded by Dickinson College student Will Nelligan (’14). There is a general annotated guide to the sketch, which was originally written for a Pennsylvania newspaper when Lincoln was a presidential candidate, and also a version especially designed as an open Common Core platform. This is in keeping with the  strong educational outreach of House Divided and its director, Associate Professor of History and Pohanka Chair in American Civil War History Matthew Pinsker.

There is an audio recording of the sketch in the voice of Lincoln as recreated by Todd Wronski, part of a larger multimedia edition of Lincoln’s writings being undertaken by House Divided. In the Genius platform clicking on different colored text brings up an annotation. Here is one with an embedded video player. Note that annotations are fully “social,” in that one can give them a thumbs up or down, share in various ways, and leave a comment on the comment.

Clicking on different colored text brings up the annotation, in this case one with an embedded video player.

Clicking on different colored text brings up the annotation, in this case one with an embedded video player.

Some annotations simply add contextual information. Others, like the one above, hint at an interpretation, as a teacher might, in an attempt to get the reader thinking beyond the surface of the text. Others amount to polite essay prompts:

Lincoln Genius Screenshot 2

One can easily create an account and start annotating.

Lincoln Genius Screenshot  3

House Divided’s annotations often take the form of questions.

The idea of annotating with questions, in addition to statements, is a fine one, helpful to teachers and students alike. Note also the ability to brand annotations with the House Divided logo, which marks them as more authoritative and “verified.” The folks at Poetry Genius understand the power of reputation, and unobtrusively include it in the platform in a variety of ways.

The ease of annotation—one can sign up for an account in a moment and fire away—makes this platform well-suited to “class-sourcing,” the adding of content by students under academic supervision, and in fact that is how these particular annotations were created. High quality content created collaboratively for a well-defined audience in an attractive, open, and flexible format: digital humanities doesn’t get much better than that.

I am delighted to say that Jeremy Dean of Education Genius will be visiting Dickinson on April 17, 2014 to speak with a group of faculty and students about text annotation and to further develop this collaboration between the Genius sites and Dickinson College. If you would like further information about this event please contact me (francese@dickinson.edu).

–Chris Francese

 

Teaching With Digital Texts

I am excited to be heading back to my alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, to join in the fun at the Texas Classical Association. On Friday I’ll be speaking at the Classic Department at UT on the topic “Digital Commentary on Classical Texts: Problems and Prospects.” And on Saturday I’ll be at the AT&T conference center for the main TCA events, speaking on, “Teaching with Digital Texts.” Here is the handout for that talk. Hook ’em!

–Chris Francese

2013 Roberts Lectures and Concert

Roberts Lecture 16th Annual Poster P1There is a stellar line up for this year’s Roberts Lectures. The subject is charismatic leadership in democratic societies. The featured speaker is Greek historian Jay Samons, possessed of no mean charisma himself, and his colleague from Boston University, early American historian Brendan McConville, who will provide a view from the age of the American founding fathers. The respondent for the Saturday lecture is historian Ted Lendon from the University of Virginia. The discussion promises to be a lively one. As always, the Friday lecture is intended for a more general audience, and the Saturday lecture to present new research. A concert follows the Saturday event. All are welcome to all events, and we hope to see you there. Please contact Marc Mastrangelo for further information (mastrang@dickinson.edu).

Friday October 4, 2013, 4:30 p.m. Stern Center Great Room, Dickinson College

J. Loren Samons and Brendan McConville (both of Boston University): “The Dangers of a First Citizen: Ancient & Modern.”

Beginning with the example of fifth century Athens, Professor Samons and Professor McConville will discuss the dangers of a charismatic, idealistic leader in a democratic environment. Questions for discussion and debate will include how the American founders reacted to examples like Pericles and how they sought to avoid the same thing happening in the U.S.

Saturday, October 5, 2013, 2:00 p.m. Wiess Center for the Arts, Room 235, Dickinson College

J. Loren Samons (Boston University): “Pericles and Homer.” Respondent: J.E. Lendon (University of Virginia).

Based on controversial aspects of his new biography of the Athenian general and politician, Pericles, to be published by for Cambridge University Press, Prof. Samons will argue for a radical new understanding of Pericles’ relationship to Homeric ideals. This lecture is part of a whole that will be the first hostile biography of Pericles ever written in English.

 

A concert will directly follow the Saturday event, in Rubendall Recital Hall, Weiss Center for the Arts. Pianist Jennifer Blyth  (Dickinson College) will perform movements three and four of Charles Ives’ Piano Sonata No. 2 (“Concord Sonata”), and will be joined by fellow music-faculty members Michael Cameron (cello) and Elisabeth Stimpert (clarinet) and by the Peabody Institute’s Courtney Orlando (violin) to perform the 2004 Pulitzer Prize-winning Tempest Fantasy by Paul Moravec.

Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop 2013

20 Latin teachers surrounding the statue of Benjamin Rush on the campus of Dickinson College

The seventh annual 5-day Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop has just wrapped up, and it was a great experience. 20 teachers came from as nearby as Mechanicsburg, PA and from as far away as Maine, Alabama, and California to read Ovid, Fasti Book 4 with Dickinson Professors Francese and Reedy. Affectionately known as “Latin Camp,” the workshop is intended for teachers of Latin, as a way to refresh the mind through study of an extended Latin text, and to share experiences and ideas with other Latinists and teachers.

A highlight this year was an extra session with Patrick Burns (@diyclassics) about the software package Learning with Texts (LWT). This innovative tool is intended to help with vocabulary acquisition on any language with an online dictionary, and Patrick showed how it can be used to measure your progress and create flash cards with context in a spaced repetition method. He has promised to write a tutorial in this space soon, so be on the lookout for that.

Thanks, everybody, for a fun and stimulating workshop, and we hope to see you next year!

–Chris Francese

Front Row: Meghan Reedy, Chris Ann Matteo, Lisa Brady, Mary Lou Burke, Andy Milius, Chris Francese. Second Row: Catherine Zackey, Jacqueline Lopata, Joanne Miller, Janet Brooks Brian Kane, Patrick Burns, Bill Snyder. Back Row: Stephen Farrand, Scott Holcomb, Hugh McElroy, Benjamin Rush, Ryan Sellars, Russel Day (partially hidden), Scott Paterson, Paul Perot. Not Pictured: Martha Condra, John Thorpe

 

Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop: Ovid Fasti 4

July 11-16, 2013

Claudia Quinta

The Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop is intended for teachers of Latin, as a way to refresh the mind through study of an extended Latin text, and to share experiences and ideas with Latinists and teachers. Sometimes those who are not currently engaged in teaching have participated as well, including retired teachers and those working towards teacher certification.

In 2013 we will read Ovid’s Fasti, Book 4, on the month of April. It includes Ovid’s celebration of Venus as the goddess of creation, a description of the festival of the Magna Mater, and the story of Claudia Quinta; Ovid’s discussion of the Cerialia includes his famous narrative of the abduction of Persephone, the wandering of Ceres, and the return of Persephone to Olympus. Book 4 also contains the account of the Parilia, and the story of the founding augury Rome and death of Remus. The final sections tell the story of Mezentius in connection to the Vinalia and include an agricultural prayer on the Robigalia.

Moderators:

Prof. Christopher Francese (Dickinson College)

Prof. Meghan Reedy (Dickinson College)

Participants must have a firm grasp of the basics of Latin grammar and a solid working vocabulary. But we aim at a mixture of levels and experience.

Deadline for application & fee is May 15, 2013. The participation fee for each participant will $300. The fee covers lodging, three meals per day, the facilities fee, which allows access to the gym, fitness center, and the library, as well as wireless and wired internet access while on campus. The $300 fee does not cover the costs of books or travel. The recommended book is Elaine Fantham’s Ovid: Fasti Book IV (Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics). Please keep in mind that the participation fee of $300, once it has been received by the seminar’s organizers, is not refundable. This is an administrative necessity.

Lodging: accommodations will be in a student residence hall or apartment near the site of the sessions.

The first event will be an introductory dinner at 6:00 p.m., Thursday, July 11. The final session ends at noon on Tuesday, July 16th, with lunch to follow. Sessions will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. each day, with the afternoons left free for preparation.

TO APPLY: Classics Latin Workshop Application   Deadline  May 15, 2013.   Please make checks payable to Dickinson College and mail to:

Classics Dept, PO Box 1773, Carlisle PA  17013

For more information please contact Prof. Chris Francese (francese@dickinson.edu).

Illustration: Woodcut illustration of Claudia Quinta, hand-colored in red, green, yellow and black, from a German translation by Heinrich Steinhöwel of Giovanni Boccaccio’s De mulieribus claris, printed by Johannes Zainer at Ulm ca. 1474. Source: Penn Provenance Project http://www.flickr.com/photos/58558794@N07/6693292023/

Latin Core Spreadsheet

Peter Sipes, benevolus amicus noster apud Google+, has kindly made available a Google spreadsheet of the DCC Latin Core Vocabulary. Check it out, and download it. He uses it for those occasions when he is working without an internet connection. I wonder what he is doing with the list? Perhaps a guest blog post is in order. Peter?

The core vocabularies have been on my back burner while I have been finishing up a book project of the dead tree variety while on leave from Dickinson for the fall ’12 semester. But I hope to return very soon to consideration of the semantic groupings in particular. My Dickinson colleague Meghan Reedy pointed out some flaws in the groupings on the Latin side, and we need to get that sorted before she and I move forward on our grand project: a poster that will visually represent the core according to its associated LASLA data, expressing visually each lemma’s frequency, semantic group, and relative commonness in poetry and prose.

In the meantime, if you will be at the meetings of the (soon-to-be-renamed) American Philological Association in Seattle, please stop by the Greek pedagogy session and hear my fifteen minute talk about a way to use the DCC Greek core vocabulary in an intermediate sequence based around sight reading and comprehension, as opposed to the traditional prepared translation method.

Here is the whole line-up:

Friday January 4, 8:30 AM – 11:00 AM Washington State Convention Center Room 604

NEW ADVENTURES IN GREEK PEDAGOGY
Wilfred E. Major, Louisiana State University, Organizer
The papers on this panel each offer guidance and new directions for teaching beginning and intermediate Greek. First is a report on the 2012 College Greek Exam. Following are a new way to teach Greek accents, and a new way to sequence declensions, tenses and conjugations in beginning classes. Then we get a look at a reader in development that makes authentic ancient texts accessible to beginning students, and finally a way to make sight reading the standard method of reading in intermediate Greek classes.

Albert Watanabe, Louisiana State University
The 2012 College Greek Exam (15 mins.)

Wilfred E. Major, Louisiana State University
A Better Way to Teach Greek Accents (15 mins.)

Byron Stayskal, Western Washington University
Sequence and Structure in Beginning Greek (15 mins.)

Georgia L. Irby, The College of William and Mary
A Little Greek Reader: Teaching Grammar and Syntax with Authentic Greek (15 mins.)

Christopher Francese, Dickinson College
Greek Core Vocabulary Acquisition: A Sight Reading Approach (15 mins.)

NITLE seminar to feature DCC

Members of the team who created the Dickinson College Commentaries will be featured in a seminar hosted by the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE). The event, which will take place on Thursday, December 6, 3:00-4:00 pm EST, will be hosted online via NITLE’s videoconferencing platform, and is open to NITLE consortium members.

“Collaborative Digital Scholarship Projects: The Liberal Art of Drupal,” will address the creation of collaborative digital projects in a liberal arts context, using the example of DCC site, which was built with the widely used content management system Drupal. The speakers will be Meredith Wilson (’13), Dickinson web developer Ryan Burke, and Prof. Christopher Francese.

For more details or to register, see: http://www.nitle.org/live/events/154-collaborative-digital-scholarship-projects-the

Andrew Becker Latin performance workshop

Dickinson Latin Workshop
Saturday, March 23, 2013

Prof. Andrew Becker (Virginia Tech)

Sound (and Sometimes Sense) in Latin Verses: Accents, Rhythms, Meters, Poems

Place: Dickinson College, Tome 115, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

A Practical Workshop on Vergil’s hexameters, Ovid’s elegiacs, Horace’s lyrics, and Catullan hendecasyllables.
1. Making it Sing with numerosus Horatius (‘many-measured Horace’): Horace’s main meters—Alcaic, Sapphic, Asclepiadean.
2. altisonum Maronem (‘deeply/loftily resonant Maro’): In Search of the Sounds of Vergil’s hexameters
3. unum surripuisse pedem (‘[Cupid is said] to have snatched away one foot’): Ovid’s elegiac couplets
4. Adeste, hendecasyllabi (‘Come on, hendecasyllables!’): Catullus’s favored meter

This workshop will be of interest primarily to Latin teachers, but others are more than welcome to attend. The workshop is free of charge, but to order materials and food we need to have an accurate count of attendees. For directions and pre-registration please contact Terri Blumenthal: blumentt@dickinson.edu, by March 9, 2011.
Professor Becker is Associate Professor of Latin, Greek, and Classical Studies in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Virginia Tech. He specializes in the study of Greek and Latin poetry, with special emphasis on metrics and performance, and is a recipient of the William E. Wine Award, which recognizes “a history of university teaching excellence” at VT. His publications include “Non Oculis Sed Auribus: The Ancient Schoolroom and Learning to Hear the Latin Hexameter” (Classical Journal 2004), “Listening to Lyric: Accent and Ictus in the Latin Sapphic Stanza” (Classical World 2010), and “Rhythm in a Sinuous Stanza: The Anatomy and Acoustic Contour of the Latin Alcaic” (American Journal of Philology, 2012). Professor Becker has also served as President of the Classical Association of Virginia (2010-2012).

Act 48: The Dickinson Department of Classical Studies is an approved provider of professional development opportunities under Pennsylvania Act 48. Those who complete our workshops receive 5 hours of Act 48 credit.