Select a topic and approach. The topic you select should be relevant to the issues and themes raised in the course. It should stimulate your interest, challenge your critical thinking and writing skills, and be provocative. Think carefully about the kind of methodological approach you intend to take towards the topic you have selected.
When laying the foundation for researching a topic you need to read the relevant literature—both primary and secondary sources—to understand the evidence for your topic and to determine to what extent this subject matter has been examined by others. Begin with the class syllabus! Are there any sources made available to you by your instructor that may be relevant to your project? Every research project in classical antiquity can benefit from the following:
Primary sources are the ancient evidence—literary and archaeological (sculptural, pictoral, numismatic, epigraphic, etc.)—with which you fashion your argument; they are the "stuff" of scholarly argumentation. One way to identify some of the sources that will inform a topic is to look through "sourcebooks" such as
- Ancient Greece: Social and Historical Documents from Archaic Times to the Death of Socrates. M. Dillon and L. Garland, eds. (NY: 1994). CALL NUMBER DF75 .D55 1994
- Roman Civilization, Volume I. Selected Readings: The Republic and the Augustan Age; Volume II. Selected Readings: The Empire. N. Lewis and M. Reinhold, eds. (NY: 1990). CALL NUMBER DG13 .L4 1990
Other sourcebooks are more specific: they might focus on a period of history (Athenian Politics c. 800-500 BC: A Sourcebook, ed. G.R. Stanton [London and New York: Routledge, 1990]), a specific location (Roman Britain: A Sourcebook, ed. S. Ireland [London and New York: Routledge, 1996]), or a particular theme (Women's Life in Greece and Rome, eds. M.R. Lefkowitz and M.B. Fant [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1982]. Always ask your instructor if you are struggling to identify primary sources for your project.
One fruitful way to identify the primary sources is to read secondary literature, from textbooks to sophisticated scholarship, for it will include the evidence upon which analyses are based. Scholarship appears both in books and in journals (periodicals) and you will need to identify the relevant scholarship for your topic. Take a two-pronged approach: peruse other bibliographies to find necessary secondary literature, and conduct searches in databases like the Scribner Library for scholarship.
- bibliographies in books identified for the course (textbook, books on reserve): check your textbooks and any materials placed on reserve for the course first; these are the most accessible tools, and they have been identified as relevant to the course topics
- bibliographies online identified for the course: the Internet contains many bibliographies on classics-related subjects that, with some trial and error, you should be able to locate (see the "web-based searching tools" below for some classics-related search engines).
After your course materials, turn to Scribner Library. The best resources are the collection itself, the Subject Guide to Classics, and the Classics Librarian, John Cosgrove, who is available to assist you. Among the various print materials in Scribner Library that offer a good starting place is the Oxford Classical Dictionary, an indispensable tool for beginning any research project. One quick and easy foray into a specific topic is by turning to a reliable reference source, such as the Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd edition, which is a standard in classics and is in Scribner Library. Articles in this dictionary provide the basics on many literary, archaeological, historical and social issues in ancient Greece and Rome. The OCD contains entries on individual authors, historical figures, major events, and themes relevant to the classical world, and nearly every entry includes a few bibliographic references. If you wish to refer to a specific OCD article in your paper, for example on Alexander the Great, the proper citation is (OCDs.v. "Alexander (3) III"): it includes the common abbreviation for the dictionary, the Latin abbreviation that informs the reader to look it up under the term (sub voce), and then the term as it appears in the dictionary—here, not "Alexander the Great" but "Alexander the III" of Macedon, and the third (3) Alexander referenced in the dictionary. A little complicated, but logical.
If you cannot locate an item in Scribner Library, you may request a copy either from the Connect NY catalog, or our Interlibrary Loan office. Try these two useful resources only after you have determined that Scribner Library does not own a copy.
Skidmore faculty, students and staff all operate under the College's Honor Code, which obligates us to take responsibility for our own work and to give proper credit for work done by others. Be sure to familiarize yourself with, and understand fully, faculty expectations of academic honesty and integrity so that you can do your best work.