Protected: LATN 403 Spr 20: Agricola chap. 2 & 3

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Protected: LATN 403 Spr 20: Intro to Agricola & chap. 1

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Don’t go to Tennessee

From The Lexington Herald Leader (March 27, 2020):

Beshear warns: Kentuckians crossing into Tennessee could bring coronavirus back home

“I cannot control that Tennessee has not taken the steps that we have,” [Kentucky Gov. Andy] Beshear said. “…I need you to be strong in your pride in this state, and I need you to make sure that you don’t take someone else’s lack of action and ultimately bring it back to Kentucky to harm us.”

https://www.kentucky.com/news/coronavirus/article241580221.html

Fewer than three weeks ago, I was talking with my partners in the making of “Mine 21” about going to the Appalachian Studies Association conference in Lexington. COVID-19 was a growing issue, but the conference organizers were wanting to go ahead with it. We talked by FaceTime although Kelsey was in town and came to my office.

Yes, no? Are we going to do this? We talked around and around. “Mine 21”  had won the Jack Spadaro Award–“The Spadaro Award is given annually to recognize the producer of the best nonfiction film or television presentation on Appalachia or its people”–and we were due to receive it at the banquet on March 13th. We REALLY wanted to go to this banquet, to get this award, to widen the audience for our film and its story. We had meetings set up with people who could help us promote the movie. We had dinners planned.

But we had to acknowledge some grim realities. Things were getting worse across the country. Harvard and Princeton had closed down and sent the students home to continue the semester online. Berea College in Kentucky had gone even further. But the organizers were still planning on running the conference. They wrote, “This afternoon, we had a spirited discussion about the implications of both cancelling and proceeding with the conference. We decided today to proceed, but it was not a unanimous decision.” We made up a list of pro’s and con’s in my office, but frankly, it was hard to know how to move forward. Let’s wait and see, we decided, until maybe March 12th?

With less than 36 hours to go, the conference was cancelled. I know that was not an easy decision.

There is an alternate reality in my heart, and it is quite vivid, where none of this happens the way that it has fallen out. Corona is serious but it does not become a pandemic. We get to go to Lexington, we meet up with some valuable contacts, “Mine 21” finds a home with a distributor. In my mind’s eye, we celebrate my visiting a distillery or two and blow the prize money on too much Bourbon. The laughter, the good fellowship, the sense of accomplishment, and yes, even the hangover, are all realities that I can almost recollect, they are so distinct.

But none of it happens. Instead, the governor of Kentucky is telling people not to go to Tennessee. It’s sensible advice. I am nodding my head in agreement. But I am also shaking my head in amazement. It is only going to get worse.

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Notes from the Corona Diary: goobye, Ronnie Mac

Tonight, on the advice of friends, we watched Knives Out with the boys. It’s a fun movie, a good old-fashioned murder mystery with twists and turns, the sort of things you smile at the whole time. Sitting with the boys in our TV room, it felt like old times. But it’s not old times.

Earlier in the day, my friend Keri called me. She runs Octo π, the pizza restaurant nearby, which had been IvyWild before that. Pursuant to the governor’s orders, they were moving to a strictly take-out model, and she had talked with my sons about delivering for her. She’d provide glove and masks, and all that. But she was calling to say a friend of her son, and someone who’d been to my house before, was now likely exposed to the coronavirus. “He has a 102 degree temperature, and has not tested positive for flu,” she said. He’s been over her house several times recently. Hmmm, said I, perhaps the boys shouldn’t hang out. But I wasn’t connecting the dots beyond this, as she was.

About 5 PM today, Keri wrote on Facebook,

After much agonizing consideration I have decided to shut down Octo π. We will not be implementing the Margheritas & Margaritas delivery plan as I had hoped. I found out this morning that two family friends have recently shown potential C19 symptoms. They have both been in contact with my family several times over the past two weeks. One of them has tested negative for the flu and will not know their C19 test results for another week. The other has family that recently returned from a country where one of the worst epicenters for the virus currently rages. It is not likely that they have the virus, but in light of the devastating impact this virus has had on all of our lives, the only responsible thing to do is to assume that I have been exposed until further information comes to prove otherwise. No current plan of action for Octo π can work without my deep involvement. I feel that the risk to you, your families, and my staff is not worth whatever advantages there are to staying open.

Our current financial situation dictates that there can be no recovery from this shut down. This coming May would have marked our tenth year of business in this beautiful community. It has always been a struggle, but it has always been worth every second. I am so profoundly grateful to this town for literally supporting me and my family as I followed my dreams and pursued the work that I love so very much. Few people have that opportunity in life.

Thank you. Keri

The enormity of what this means is only dawning on me, but as usual, Kelly had it all figured out. We finished up the movie and came downstairs, and then she said out loud  “For just a moment, I forgot we’re experiencing a world-wide pandemic that just drove my friend Keri out of business.” She ended up putting that on Facebook.

Restaurants are a tough thing to run in this town. The clientele is heterogenous: upper middle class snobs like myself affiliated with the university, and folks with less disposable cash who still like a fancy meal now and then. Keri has always managed to meet the tastes of both. She and I spent a lot of time together a decade ago, when both her kids and mine were small– I was on sabbatical, and she was looking to realize her dream of opening a restaurant. I was lucky enough to be with her when she looked at the old laundromat and said, You know, this place has a lot of charm. I couldn’t see it, but she could, and through her eyes, many others did too as they sat at her tables and had one delicious meal after another at them. I remember her fixing the place up, and how her daughter Ivy couldn’t pronounce restaurant or laundromat and called the place her mom made our the Ronnie Mac.

Given the circumstances, it’s the right decision to close it down. Her  farewell keeps with the graciousness Keri has always shown. Goodbye, Ronnie Mac. We all deserved many more year with you. This is a rotten way to go out, and my heart is very heavy this evening.

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Octo Pi open, among its last nights. March 19, 2020

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Protected: LATN 403 Spr 20: open book exam, due Sun April 5th at noon Central

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LATN 403 Spr 20: SYLLABUS

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Dear Latin 403 class, Circumstances in the world have changed radically, have they not?  As we move to the last part of our class on Latin prose of the Empire, we will no longer be able to meet in person, I am afraid, and will have to carry out the rest of the course on-line. It is my assumption that you do not have any books with you, and your Wifi may be limited. For this reason, we will be using readily-accessible web resources, as noted below. Our last set of readings will come from the Life of Julius Agricola, the extended biography of his father-in-law by Tacitus. A great man in difficult times, Agricola achieved his most noteworthy deeds while working at the Empire’s furthest edge, far from the deadly envy of Domitian. As we now labor away in a strange exile of our own, Tacitus’s inspiring account of liberty and how it is lost may just well be the work we need now to be reading.  CMcD

Online Resources

Syllabus

Week of March 30:

Week of April 6:

  • Read Agricola in English; translate ch. 1.1, & ch 2-3 (Preface)
  • Listen to Blogcast for this week
  • Assignment #A Due Sunday, April 12th, by Noon Central:
    • Ask at least one grammar question, and make one substantive comment upon the reading

Week of April 13:

  • Translate ch. 21 (on Romanization) & ch. 24 (Ireland)
  • Listen to Blogcast for this week
  • Assignment #B Due Sunday April 19th, by Noon Central
    • Ask at least one grammar question, and make one substantive comment upon the reading

Week of April 20:

  • Translate ch. 28 (on the Escape of the Usipi Battalion) & ch. 30 (Calgacus’ Speech)
  • Listen to Blogcast for this week
  • Assignment #C Due Sunday April 26th, by Noon Central
    • Ask at least one grammar question, and make one substantive comment upon the reading

Week of April 27:

  • Translate ch. 46 (Tacitus’s Eulogy for Agricola)
  • Listen to Blogcast for this week

Week of May 4:

  • Open Book Exam Due Sunday, May 3rd, by Noon Central

 

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Back to the office, or unlearning the old normal

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This is my office. The place that has been the center of my working life for a decade and a half here at the University of the South in Sewanee. It’s in the basement of Gailor Hall, but it has an attic-like feel, with bits and pieces of Sewaniana mingling with parts of my own life in a haphazard arrangement. Every item you see has a story, or many stories, and taken altogether, they make up the mosaic of my professional life and much of my personal identity as well. There are few places in the world where I feel more myself than here.

Tuesday, March 10th, was the last time I had been in the office. The coronavirus looked troublesome then, and a few universities had–amazingly–shut down and sent their students home. Harvard and Princeton had gone to online instruction, and Berea in Kentucky had gone still further by closing the college altogether. “An overreaction,” I wrote on Facebook. “Outright panic,” I called it. Yet I wondered whether they were right.  Sewanee was not shuttered that day. Wednesday would be the last day before spring break, and a message had gone out to faculty and students indicating we would resume classes at the end of break. Things might change, of course, but for now, it looked like it would be business as usual.

It wasn’t to be business as usual, though, as we all came to realize. We had all been instructed to wash our hands frequently, for twenty seconds at a time, now for a week or so. Sing the alphabet as you do it, we were told. I didn’t have a class on Wednesdays, so that morning I tended to some other errands. I took my car to Sewanee Auto, where Harold the mechanic told me this was all overblown. “More people die of flu,” he told me. I begged to differ, but he wasn’t having it. “Well, I wash my hands regularly anyway. I’m just glad everyone else is catching on.” It’s a media scare, Harold assured me. I went off to play raquetball, then to a meeting, and lunch with an old student who was passing through town. All in all, a lovely day, but the sense of doom was getting stronger. “WHO declares global pandemic,” read the Washington Post headline that afternoon, “Dow reaches bear market.” President Trump addressed the nation that night on TV, and something about his unsteady manner was even more unsettling than the frightening message he was delivering. Shortly after he concluded his speech, the Utah Jazz were scheduled to play the Oklahoma City Thunder to a packed arena, but the refs called the game off before it began. The NBA called off its whole season at the end of night.

Not sleeping well that night, I began to feel it was necessary perhaps to prepare. What might that mean? Cured meats, I thought. Rice, pasta, dry beans, canned tomatoes. And, like everyone else in America, perhaps a few more rolls of toilet paper. Below is the aisle in the Winchester Kroger where the TP should be–there were still some rolls left on Thursday, March 12th, though the story would be different in only a few days. Most people were about as anxious as I was, and the nervousness was palpable throughout the store. Not universal, though. One old woman said to a Kroger employee with whom she was clearly friendly, “Why are there so many people here?” “It’s that coronavirus they got going on,” he replied. “Oh!” she replied. “I thought that was only in China.”

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Sewanee finally declares that, because of COVID-19, we will be going online, and a host of issues comes cascading down upon us all. How to teach on the web? Can the students get their books? Can they come to campus? If they are not here, do they get a refund on their room and board? If they get a refund, will hourly workers be laid off? The market is collapsing on Monday morning. The President’s now daily press conferences are exercises in spin. What will happen to the airline industry? What will happen to the restaurant industry? What will happen to the hotel industry? What will happen to higher education?

I’ll be honest–the next week passes in a blur of building worry for me. My son Daniel is out of school as well, and wants to hang out with some friends, and I have to be an asshole about it. “I’m sorry,” I tell him. “I’m afraid I don’t know how to manage this. This is uncharted territory for all of us. I don’t think you should go out with your friends.” He wants to know what news I’m watching. “You just seem to be buying into a lot of alarmist stuff,” he tells me. “You should calm down.” Maybe he’s right. The next day, I skip the news and try reading and writing for most of the day. But even as I am being productive, it seems like I’m walking blindfolded over a minefield. Yes, I’m making progress, but where is it I am going? By Friday, even Daniel thinks we need to be more careful.

It occurs to me over the weekend that, as various states and cities begin to lock down, that soon I may not be able to get some materials I need to teach with, or things I may need for the Pontius Pilate book if this turns out to be a long haul. I get in the car and drive up to an eerily deserted campus. All around Sewanee, the daffodils are in bloom, signs of hope for spring. But it is a cold, foggy day, and the flowers look like they’re kidding themselves that the weather is ever going to be any better. Over to Gailor I go, pulling my car into a familiar parking space, I hop out of the car. The hallway is the old hallway, my door is the old door, but none of it is the same. When I turn the key and look into the room in which I never used to feel more myself, it looks strange and even alien to me. All my things are just where I left them, but the man who put them there on March 10th is a very different man than the man who looks at it all on March 22nd.

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