CL 310 : Semester project
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In the semester project for CL 310 students will revise the Wikipedia entry on Plautus in accordance with standards of thorough and responsible scholarship.   For this project students will produce the equivalent of a 15-20 page research paper.

The project is due Tuesday, December 19 by noon (the end of our scheduled final examination period).


The students have chosen to construct their article around the following six topics.  The interpetations of these topics may be as broad or as narrow as students desire.  The names of the topic's editors are given in parentheses, the primary editor first, the secondary editor second (duties of editors are described below).

  • Plautine language (Knight, Wieseman)
  • Characters in Plautus (Wieseman)
  • The historical and social context of Plautus' plays (Warden, all)
  • Stagecraft and festivals (Ryan, Warden)
  • The influence of Greek comedy on Plautus (Wieseman, Bahlman)
  • The influence and reception of Plautus' plays (Bahlman, Knight)

We will devote six class meetings to hashing out the rudiments of the various topics.

On the day of the meeting, students will bring to the table one good and useful secondary source pertinent to the topic, and will (1) report on the substance of their source, and (2) suggest ways in which the various reports can be linked together. Students should email their sources in advance to Professor Curley, who will compile them into a single list, a copy of which will be provided to each student.

The dates of the meetings are as follows:

  • Wednesday, September 20:  Language
  • Wednesday, October 4:  Historical and social context
  • Wednesday, October 18:  Greek influence
  • Wednesday, November 1:  Stagecraft
  • Wednesday, November 15:  Character
  • Wednesday, November 29:  Influence and reception

Based on the in-class discussion, the students not responsible for the editing of a particular topic will submit via email to the primary editor and to Prof. Curley topic papers of 3-4 pages in length (between 900 and 1200 words).

NOTE: The editor (but not the assistant editor) is exempt from writing such a paper.

Each paper will reflect the student’s position on the topic, a position clearly supported with references (whether footnotes, endnotes, or in-line citation) to the secondary literature.

In papers students should engage with the scholarship, but not simply regurgitate it.  The role of scholarship is to inform and inspire thinking, not to replace it. Obviously a short paper isn't enough space to develop a major argument.   Instead, think of these papers as introductions to Plautus. Choose a thesis (or several smaller theses) that can be articulated clearly in a few pages.  Students will have to generalize, but they should always offer evidence for their generalizations, whether from primary or secondary sources.

Students should append to their papers a bibliography of at least four secondary sources, listed in a standard format.   Students may rely on the sources upon which their peers report at the topic meetings, but should also include one new source not listed on the bibliography for that topic.

Due dates of the papers are as follows (all by 5:00 p.m., via email):

  • Friday, October 13:  Language (email your editor)
  • Friday, October 27:  Historical and social context (email your editor)
  • Friday, November 10:  Greek influence (email your editor)
  • Tuesday, November 21:  Stagecraft (Knight and Warden only) (email your editor)
  • Tuesday, November 28:  Character (Bahlman and Wiesman only) (email your editor)
  • Friday, December 8:  Influence and reception (email your editor)

    NOTE:  Due to a student dropping the class, some of the responsibilities for editing and writing need to be shifted a bit.

    -- All students will participate in the second editing of the Historical Context section
    -- The discussion on Character will commence as planned (Nov. 15), but the sole editor of this section is now Wieseman.
    -- Knight and Warden will write papers on Stagecraft.
    -- Bahlman and Wieseman will write papers on Character, which Wieseman will edit and submit to Ryan, for inclusion in the Stagecraft section.


The editors, within a week of receiving the students’ papers, will synthesize them into a coherent article of about 2,500 words.  This exercise will involve both cutting and pasting from the original documents, smoothing over stylistic inconsistencies, and even adding to the text where necessary.  In other words, the editorial experience will test students’ capacities for critical thought.

The synthesis will occur on the editor’s Wikipedia “Talk Page,” which all registered users have. Once the synthesis is finished, the primary editor will alert both the secondary editor and Prof. Curley via email, at which point the secondary editor will have a week to apply his or her hand to the article, making additions, deletions, or other changes where necessary.

Final article.

Between December 18 and 19, the new articles will be officially posted to the Wikipedia entry on Plautus.  The class will come to an agreement beforehand as to how the final article will look, and in what order the changes will be posted.


By the end of the term, each student will have written five small papers, and had the opportunity to be the editor of one article, and the assistant editor of another. The semester project, remember, is worth 60% of the overall grade.  Within that percentage, the various tasks break down as follows:

  • Your contributions to the topic meetings (33%)
  • Your topic papers (33%)
  • Your performance as primart and secondary editor (33%)

Prof. Curley will provide feedback on all aspects of the graded work.  In effect, the three graded components of the semester project are each worth 20% of a student's overall grade (20% x 3 = 60%).


The following web sites will be helpful when developing your project:

Writing in Classics.  A series of pages developed by Skidmore's Classics Department.  Good advice on every step of the process, from thesis to bibliography to final draft.

The Skidmore Guide to Writing.  More trustworthy advice, especially on matters of grammar and formatting.

ILLiad, Scribner Library's InterLibrary Loan service.  Allows students to request articles, essays, and books outside of the Library's holdings.  NOTE:  No student requests will be processed after Monday, November 21.

Searchable index of journals held by Scribner Library (print and electronic).

See the Web Resources Page for other research tools.

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