Pompeiian wall painting, 1st c. AD
Cave canem!
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CL311 Life in Pompeii
TuTh 2.10-3.30

Prof. Michael Arnush Ladd 209 x5462
marnush@skidmore.edu


Overview
Texts
Requirements
Schedule
Project
Discussions
Readings
Resources
Classics Department
Skidmore College

DISCUSSIONS OF TEXTS AND SCHOLARSHIP

 
These student-led discussions of Latin texts and scholarship will be at the heart of our investigation into Pompeii, and their success will depend upon your preparation for and participation in the presentations and discussions.
 
Your preparation of the Latin texts (whether you are leading or participating in the discussion) should include
  • doing the reading prior to the class discussion
  • identifying all of the Latin words whose meaning you do not know, writing them down, and looking them up in the dictionary
  • identifying any key terms that frequently occur, particularly in the graffiti, and asking yourself what they mean and how they are used
  • working out the translation of the texts before you come to class. The classroom should not be the first moment you make sense of, and translate, a text; this is part of what you do as homework. The classroom is, instead, an opportunity to demonstrate how your Latin skills continue to improve.
  • making a list of points you want to raise and the questions you want to ask before you go to class.
 
Your preparation of the scholarship (whether you are leading or participating in the discussion) should include
  • doing the reading prior to the class discussion
  • identifying key terms that frequently occur, and asking yourself what they mean and how they are used
  • determining if there are different schools of thought on the topic and what the different arguments "for" and "against" are
  • making a list of points you want to raise and the questions you want to ask before you go to class.
 
Reading critically: Can students really have an opinion?
 

Many students feel that, having only done a few hours of reading on a topic, they can not argue against an author who is the "authority" on the topic. You should realize that one of the main purposes of a Classics education is to enable students to read rapidly and to evaluate critically what they read. As you grapple with a topic, ask yourself some of the following:

  • when was the piece written? does it reflect the views of its time in any way?
  • from what intellectual standpoint (marxist, conservative, feminist, nationalist, etc.) was it written?
  • what does it omit? Does the author ignore religioius, economic, intellectual, social, cultural or literary perspectives? Whose voices are ignored?
 
Preparing the Discussion
 
As you prepare to lead a class discussion, keep the following points in mind:
  • break the discussion into two segments: a presentation by you which lays out the main points you want to make, and a discussion that involves all of the class which you moderate. Give your presentation a clear structure. State its theme, make the central section easy to follow (on a handout, you might bullet the main point), make the conclusion sharp and controversial when possible.
  • produce any handouts, particularly a "guide" to the presentation and/or discussion, in a word processor. Feel free to organize it formally - you might number the paragraphs, for example, for reference during the discussion. When you lead the discussion, speak clearly and slowly and to the group, not down at your notes.
  • stick to the topic. Do not give lots of detail and do not pad out your presentation with irrelevancies. DO NOT SUMMARIZE WHAT YOU HAVE READ. Assume that all of us have read the piece and are familiar with the factual details of the topic.
 
Participation in a discussion led by another student in the class
 
  • Arrive on time. Have a copy of the reading and your notes on it handy.
  • Listen carefully, take notes during the presentation and the discussion that follows, but you're there to participate, so keep your notes succinct during the discussion and write them out more fully after class. The discussions may appear on the midterm and final exams.
  • Join the discussion early on (commenting on a portion of the seminar paper is a good place to begin) so that you don't feel like a spectator.
  • You don't always have to be negative or critical; you can intervene to agree with someone. You can also use stating your agreement to introduce another point or question.
  • ASK QUESTIONS IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND SOMETHING. If you're confused, others probably are, also.
  • Don't be embarrassed by silences. Short pauses will occur, when an issue has been exhausted. This is a good opportunity to look at your notes and see if you have other questions or points you wish to make. If you haven't spoken yet, this is the time.