CC365: Getting Schooled in Antiquity

PROJECT OUTLINE

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DATES

Thursday, March 6

Thursday, March 20
Tuesday, April 2
Thursday, April 17

Thursday, April 24
and
Tuesday, April 29

Friday, May 9
Final Paper due (60%)

Choosing a Topic

Your topic can be anything related to the theory or practice of education in antiquity. Your want to choose a topic big enough that you will be able to say something interesting about it (i.e., develop a thesis or argument), but small enough that the available literature on the topic will not overwhelm you. You also want to pick a topic for which a substantial body of scholarship exists in English. Professor Welser is happy to offer advice about which sorts of topics are probably viable and which are not.

Your initial choice of topic does not have to be extremely specific. As work on your topic progresses, you want to refine and focus your inquiries so that they acquire a more definite object about which you can say something specific and interesting. You might start out, for example, by deciding that you want your project to be about the Spartan agoge. As you read and think about this topic, you may decide that your paper will specifically deal with the argument over whether or not the agoge is primarily a series of aboriginal "rites of passages." Or you may decide to focus on the peculiar and much-debated krypteia. Or the decline and revival of the Spartan educational system over time. And so on. What you are after, ultimately, is a refinement of your topic that will allow you to try to answer some interesting question or make some interesting point.

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Annotated Bibliographies

As soon as you have chosen your topic, you want to begin compiling relevant bibliography. Try not to put this off, or you may discover that some highly desirable source is not available at Skidmore and that there is not time to get it through inerlibrary loan. Don't wait.

***I. Finding Sources

The resources page of this website lists plenty of options of for gathering possible references quickly. Start plugging appropriate search terms into the various databases and recording the most promising references for investigation. You will want immediately to begin reading or skimming these sources and preparing your annotated bibliographies. You may also wish to glance through the books on the titles on the bibliography section of the web site; all these books are available either on reserve at Scribner library or may be borrowed from Professor Welser. The bibliography contains almost all the major books in the fields of Greek and Roman education.

Finally, don't neglect Henri Marrou's History of Education in Antiquity. One of the reasons it has dominated the field for so long is that Marrou was a master of the the ancient sources and extensively documented his conclusions. Note that in addition to the footnotes at the bottom of the page (referenced in the text by superscripted numerals) there are also even lengthier references at the end of the book (pp. 353-452, referenced in the text by numerals in parentheses). Marrou abbreviates his references heavily, but explains his abbreviations in another section at the back of the book (pp. 453-460). Don't hesitate to ask for help if you're having trouble finding or understanding a particular reference.

***II. Specifications for the Annotated Bibliographies

The 1st Annotated Bibliography should include 5 sources. The 2nd Annotated Bibliography should include 10 sources. All these sources should be relevant to your topic. Each item on the bibliography should include not only basic information (author, title, publisher, journal, etc.) but a brief description of the source and its relevance to your project. The description does not have to be long but it must include the following:

(1) A summary of what the source is about. What is its topic? What kinds of information does it contain? What is its main point?

(2) An explanation of why the source is especially relevant or important for your particular topic. Why do you have to use this particular work? Why does it belong on your bibliography?

(3) A preliminary critique of the source. What are its strengths and weaknesses? In what ways is it helpful or unhelpful, persuasive or unpersuasive?

***SOME ADVICE FOR MAKING THE RESEARCH PROCESS EASIER:

The main thing to remember is that you don't want to read every potential source from beginning to end; this is waste of your time. You want to have a good sense of a possible source before you read it. There are several ways to accomplish this: one way is by skimming through the work, reading what seem to be the most important sentences or paragraphs or looking for key words that are of special interest to you. Another way is by reading abstracts (short descriptions) of a book or article. Most citations of articles in L'Année Philologique are provided with abstracts. For books, there will generally be several reviews available that you will almost certainly want to read before tackling the book itself. For books in Classics published in recent years, some of the best reviews are available on line from the Bryn Mawr Classical Review, but references to reviews can also be found in JSTOR and L'Année Philologique contains references to all reviews of a particular book. Investigating some of these reviews may make the process of getting familiar with your sources a lot simpler.

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Choosing a Topic

Your topic can be anything related to the theory or practice of education in antiquity. Your want to choose a topic big enough that you will be able to say something interesting about it (i.e., develop a thesis or argument), but small enough that the available literature on the topic will not overwhelm you. You also want to pick a topic for which a substantial body of scholarship exists in English. Professor Welser is happy to offer advice about which sorts of topics are probably viable and which are not.

Your initial choice of topic does not have to be extremely specific. As work on your topic progresses, you want to refine and focus your inquiries so that they acquire a more definite object about which you can say something specific and interesting. You might start out, for example, by deciding that you want your project to be about the Spartan agoge. As you read and think about this topic, you may decide that your paper will specifically deal with the argument over whether or not the agoge is primarily a series of aboriginal "rites of passages." Or you may decide to focus on the peculiar and much-debated krypteia. Or the decline and revival of the Spartan educational system over time. And so on. What you are after, ultimately, is a refinement of your topic that will allow you to try to answer some interesting question or make some interesting point.

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Writing the First Draft

The rough draft is stage at which your paper begins to take shape, the stage at which the question that the paper will answer, or the thesis for which it should argue, will become clear. The first draft does not have to be perfect, especially in terms of formatting, spelling, etc. What is crucial at this stage is content. You want to use the first draft as an opportunity to really think about what you want to say in your paper, how you want to organize it, and what information and evidence to include.

Before writing the rough draft, carefully read the Skidmore College Classics Department's Guide to Research Papers and look over the Skidmore Guide to Writing, especially the page on "the writing process." (Scroll down to the sections on "outlines," "drafts," and "revisions" for especially useful guidlines.)

Once you've done this, the important thing is to begin writing as soon as possible. Most people find it difficult, if not impossible, to conceptualize an entire paper (with its structure, arguments, etc.) before they have begun to write it. It is through the process of writing that the paper will take shape. Start writing, and be prepared to discard or rework what you have already written. Difficulties will arise. Keep writing and they will resolve themselves.

Here is the wisest thing ever said about writing: ALL WRITING IS REWRITING. Nothing is ever perfect the first time, or the second. But usually, with every draft, every iteration, a piece of writing -- especially a research paper -- will get better.

If you find yourself having serious difficulties at any stage of the process, either make an appointment with Professor Welser or contact the Skidmore College Writing Center. Either of these resources are happy to help you with any stage of the process, and (in the case of the Writing Center) at virtually any hour.

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In-Class Presentations

(Click Here for a Word version of the presentation guidelines.)

Your in-class presentation is a chance for everyone to share ideas and for you to get feedback about your project from your colleagues in the seminar. It should conform to the following guidelines:

(1) TIME:  It should be an oral report, no more than 15 minutes long, leaving at least 5 minutes for questions and comments.

(2) HANDOUTS:  Your presentation should be accompanied by a typed handout outlining the main points you want to convey. The purpose of the handout is to assist your colleagues in understanding your project; it should be clear and well-organized, but it does not need to be slick or fancy.

If there are certain pieces of evidence that are especially important to your paper (passages from ancient literature, for example, or works of art), it will be helpful to include these on your handout as well.

One sheet of paper should be sufficient for your handout, though you may wish to use both sides. Bring a copy of your handout for every member of the seminar (9 people total). Professor Welser will be happy to photocopy your handout for you if you give him a copy more than two hours before the start of class.

(3) CONTENT:  At a minimum, the presentation should include the following elements (a) through (e). Of course, you do not have to answer every single one of the questions listed under each element. In fact, they may not all be relevant to your particular topic. They are just meant to illustrate the kinds of specific information that your presentation should provide.

(a) A general statement of what your project is about. With what aspect of ancient education does it deal?

(b) A more specific statement of the question you are trying to answer or the thesis you are trying to support. (Ideally, you will be able to enunciate both a question around which your project is organized and some sort of provisional answer/thesis based on the research you've done.)

(c) A summary of what the modern scholarship you've read seems to say about your topic and your question. What answers to your question, if any, do today's scholars have to offer? How does your paper fit into, or depart from, modern studies of your topic? In short, to what extent are you building upon the work of other modern scholars? To what extent do you agreeing or disagreeing with previous work on your topic?

Of course, you will not have anywhere near enough time to talk about every secondary/modern source that you've read for your paper. You will have to generalize and summarize.

(d) A discussion of the ancient sources that you are using for your project and how these are helping you approach your topic and/or answer your question. What insights have emerged from your study of the ancient evidence? What problems has this evidence presented? How does the evidence support or undermine your thesis?

Again, you probably will not have time to cover all the ancient sources you are using; in this case, just focus on one or two of the major ones, or the ones you feel will be of greatest interest to the seminar. Try to introduce us to an author or text or work of art with which we may not be familiar, especially if it's somehow inherently cool or interesting.

If you're relying mostly on secondary/modern sources, you should at least talk about what evidence they present from the ancient world.

If you're relying heavily on a reading we did for class, then there's no need to spend time repeating things we already know about it.

(e) A short statement of where you want to go with your project in the remaining weeks before the final paper is due. (This will give the other members of the seminar an idea of what comments or questions about your project might be most useful to you.)

In addition, feel free to include in your presentation anything else relevant to our consideration of ancient education over the course of the semester. Since the relevance of ancient educational theory and practice to our own times has been a major focus of the seminar, any comments or insights about the relevance of your topic to educational issues today is very much welcomed (but of course, it should not be the whole of your presentation!).

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