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, Monday, May 4th, 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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Protected: Myth Spr 20: Medea

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Protected: Myth Spr 20: Jason and the Argonauts

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Myth Spr 20: Online test, & 2 pix of Heracles

March 20, 2020

Dear Classical Mythology students,

Welcome to my blog, which I have been running for most of the last decade.  It’s a fairly low-tech venue, and one I am familiar with, so I have been thinking that it might be the right format for the future teaching of our class.

Let me ask you to listen to this voice memo above, in .m4a format, and tell me whether or not listening to a recording like this is going to be OK for you as a way for me to run class. Shoot me a quick email to say either “My internet connection isn’t going to work for this” or “This will be just fine.” 

Also– and this means a lot to me –let me know how you are doing during these very strange days.

Yours,
CMcD

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Photo Credit, Hannah True

 

Discussion of two images of Heracles and Hera

Terms

Etruscans (Etruria)
Geoponica
Galaxy (from Greek, gala, galaktos, “milk”)
putti (cherubs in Renaissance art)

Images

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Etruscan Bronze Mirror. Florence: Museo Archeologico. 325 BC

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Jacopo Tintoretto, The Origin of the Milky Way. London: National Gallery. 1575

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Barbara Ungar,
In Tintoretto’s Origin of the Milky Way

Jupiter coasts in, thrusting
baby Hercules at
Juno’s breast. She sprawls

naked, her luxe Venetian bed
entangled in cloud. Four
cherubim zoom in with bow

and arrows; her peacocks
watch. Shining rays
spray from her nipples:

the right streaming down to plant
lilies in earth; the left shooting
up—past the bastard

infant’s head and her bangled
arm upflung into sky­—
to flower in ten golden stars.

All the faces, even her mask
of perfection, gaze
at that miracle of milk. Startled

awake, she leans back,
bare foot treading
thundercloud, one hand open

above all their heads,
as if she, goddess of childbirth,
had just flung new-

born stars. The astonishment
of milk arcing out
into space, her stranger body

showering in spontaneous creation.

BTW, If you like this poem, there are a few more of Barbara Ungar’s ecphrastic poems (poems about artworks) at this link.

 

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LATN 403 Spr 20: the new dispensation

 

March 19, 2020

Dear Imperial Roman Prose students,

Welcome to my blog, which I have been running for most of the last decade.  It’s a fairly low-tech venue, and one I am familiar with, so I have been thinking that it might be the right format for the future teaching of our class.

So, can I ask you to listen to this voice memo above, in .m4a format, which outlines my plans for the rest of the term? The text of the recording is below, and you can scroll along as I read, if you want to.

What I’d really like to know is whether or not listening to a recording like this is going to work for you. So PLEASE, let me know by shooting me a quick email to say either “My internet connection isn’t going to work for this” or “This will be just fine.”  Also, and this means a lot to me, let me know how you are doing!

Yours,

CMcD

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Photo Credit Stephen Alvarez

My friends,

Greetings from Sewanee! It is a warm spring evening here, a bit overcast. You can hear maybe the birds behind me, and maybe the trucks on the highway too, and perhaps even the train-whistle from Cowan a few miles away.

Events has fallen out in such a way that we cannot finish up our class together as we had originally planned, and instead we will have to proceed remotely as of March 31. As I have mentioned to you in a previous e-mail, I have never taught or taken an online class, and so we will need to work together to make this work.

But before I begin, let me offer one observation: I know how awful this has all been for you, being violently wrenched away from college like this. It’s been awful for all of us who teach and work here as well. Nobody at Sewanee  would have done this if it hadn’t absolutely had to happen this way.  I know you know that. I think we all understand that, intellectually. But that doesn’t mean that emotionally any of us is OK with it.  . You may want to seek out somebody to talk with about it. If you are upset, or angry, or depressed about it, that is an appropriate way to feel.

This is my current thinking on how to move ahead. Most of you left campus intending to return, so I assume you do not have your books with you. I also assume that, because you will be at home and not in Sewanee with its study spaces, you will not necessarily have a quiet room and a reliable Wifi connection. Based on these two assumptions, I will be using readily-accessible texts on the internet, and will also try to keep my instruction to the bare minimum of bandwidth. As all of you have access to it, we will use Blackboard for written assignments and feedback.

We were due, as you know, to have an exam immediately upon return from Spring Break. Some of you have been studying, I imagine, but probably most of you have been somewhat distracted by the news. I will admit that I have not figured out how exactly to carry out this exam, but one thing is clear– it’s going to have to be different than what we would have done on campus!

OK. So, what will we read for the rest of the semester? Having read some of the greatest hits of Pliny’s Letters and some of the Passion of Saint Perpetua, it had been my plan to begin reading more of Tacitus. Like I say, though I know you probably don’t have the book of selections by Steven Rutledge. Rather than have you order a new copy, or ask the hard-working people in duPont to make a PDF of it, I’ve decided to use a pretty good online version of Tacitus’s work, the Agricola, which is available from Dickinson College.  It’s a pretty good resources,  I think. Besides the Latin, there is vocab and notes. It’s designed for students at your level, so it should be pretty user-friendly.

There’s a link here.  I’ll give you this link again in my next post, together with a PDF of a a translation. I’ll also discuss in fuller detail what the Agricola is about, and why it makes sense for us, at this particular moment, for us to be reading it together.

One last thing. Because there will some things I post that will not be, strictly speaking, out of copyright, I will be putting future posts on this blog behind a password. That password is the word written on the whiteboard in the picture of me below.

OK, that’s it for now. I hope you are all staying safe and healthy.

Ecce Quam Bonum! Bye.

CMcD

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Photo Credit, Hannah True

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Protected: Basil Rathbone on accents

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Last Call

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“Can we get Shenanigan’s?” Daniel asked me. Kelly’s out of town, and I had plans to make chili. I flinched a little. Shelter in place. Stay at home. These are the mantras of the day. “I just feel like,” he said, “it won’t be possible to get a burger anywhere pretty soon.” Today, a few states have shut down restaurants and bars. But Tennessee isn’t one of the states, and Shenanigan’s isn’t one of the restaurants. Not yet. So we called in our order and drove over. While we paid, they said probably they’d be going to delivery only pretty soon. It’s Monday night, and I know I shouldn’t, but I ordered a beer. “I feel like we’re living in a sci-fi movie,” said Daniel. “One of the depressing ones.” I sipped my beer. By the weekend, who knows whether even this will be possible.

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go figure

“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”–Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

 

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