Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Reasoning: Grad School Reading List

So I've been (slowly) doing a little work on my reading list for grad school. However, I'm realizing I don't actually have any idea how to find the best commentaries on specific texts (either grammatical, historical, or literary). I thought I'd put up just a few of the titles in case anyone has any ideas.

  • Aeschylus' Choephoroe
  • Aristophanes' Frogs, Lysistrata
  • Euripides' Trojan Women
  • Isocrates' Panegyricus, Helen
  • Thucydides' Peloponnesian War, Book II

  • St. Augustine's Confessions, Book VIII
  • Lucretius' Books I and V
  • Quintilian's Book X
  • Suetonius' Augustus

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Reasoning: Learn Ancient Greek Online

A professor at the University of Missouri Kansas city has created a resource for teaching ancient Greek online. I found the resource posted at AWOL. Enjoy! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Appetitive: Review-- Anne Carson's Antigonick

A friend of the family gave me a copy of Antigonick for my birthday. I was excited to read it. Two of my best friends both raved over it and I generally love Anne Carson. However, as much as I hate to admit this, I just didn't get it.

It wasn't bad, but it wasn't really anything. It was a loose, quasi-postmodern translation of the Sophokles play with a sprinkling of moderately interesting language, quotes from Hegal, and some rather confusing drawings. It conveyed a sense of futility and desolation that reminded me of (but did not follow the tradition of) Camus, but not much more.

And there was a weird mute character, Nick, who "measures things". What things?-- well, as an audience, we don't know. My initial thought was that he provided a measure-- like the chorus was supposed to do in the ancient world. The chorus reacted, related stories, and as helpless witnesses, stood in for the audience. However, the chorus often has such insight (in their philosophical or mythical flights of fancy) or such blindness (when they are used for dramatic irony) in comparison to the audience, that I thought maybe, especially for a modern audience, Carson envisioned that it would help to have a character reacting-- thus measuring-- the play as a sort of intermediary. This idea made sense to me. And yet, that's not what he seems to be doing. Nick appears only once in the stage direction at the end of the play on the final page: "exunt omnes except Nick who continues measuring." This, in combination with Kreon and Eurydike's linguistic games surrounding the phrase "nick of time," inclined me to believe he was literally measuring.

I thought that I must be missing something, so I looked up a  couple of reviews online. It seems I didn't miss much. One review saw spirit and inspiration and one review hated the anachronistic touches, but neither seemed to be working with something fundamental that I missed.

One review reminded me that this is the second work of Anne Carson's in succession about mourning the loss of a brother (see Nox, which I loved). However, I'm kind of wary of such a biographical insight for obvious reasons.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Appetitive: Fun Online Classes

So while I've been reviewing my languages (and working a lot), I also decided that I should take a couple of courses online to keep myself engaged with the learning process in a more parametrized environment.

iTunes U, David O'Connor's Ancient and Medieval Philosophy: Professor O'Connor is the author of one of my favorite article's on Plato. He uses his incredible insight on Plato to provide an introduction for the beginning philosophy student. Although I love my Alma Mater, O'Connor's lectures are so much better than the first lectures I had on Plato. The class online is missing some of the lectures, but it's one of the things I've been listening to while I clean my room.

Corsera, Sue Alcock's Archaeology's Dirty Little Secrets: Professor Alcock gave the Keynote Lecture at the Getty's "Cultural Memories in the Roman Empire." I noticed, when I heard her speak, that she was very engaging in a way that would make her the perfect person to teach undergraduate classes to inspire budding archaeologists. It seems fitting, then, that she's teaching this basic archaeology class. I've never taken an archaeology class, although I think archaeology is pretty cool. So this is a perfect course for me. Unfortunately, the book is super expensive, so I bought the previous edition and I'm going to hope that it is sufficiently similar.

EdX CB22X, Gregory Nagy's The Ancient Greek Hero: According to one of my friends, at Harvard, this class is known as "Heroes for Zeros" on the modal of the stereotypical "Rocks for Jocks" or Berkeley's "Physics for Presidents." And indeed, the class doesn't require a lot of work. However, despite the pejorative nickname, the class is a lot of fun and is quite engaging. Professor Nagy gives some fabulous insight into Ancient Greek song culture and the text of the Iliad.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Appetitive: The Decypherment of Linear B

I heard this podcast today about a female American linguist who devoted her short life to helping in the early stages of the decipherment of Linear B. Listen here.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Appetitive: Greek Paedegogy

The other day, I was at a book shop and I ran into the new edition of Mastronarde's Greek textbook, Introduction to Attic Greek. It's a very pretty book and it made me think about Greek textbooks. I've been reviewing my Greek grammar in preparation for starting grad school in the fall and I've been thinking about what introductory textbook I would use if I were teaching a introductory Greek course.

Although I know that Hansen & Quinn is the standard,I just don't find it particularly user-friendly. In the early chapters, the sentences are insipid and repetitive. Also, it seems severely front-loaded with forms (chapters 1-5 force almost all of the verb forms upon students, while units 6-11 slow down the pace, and then chapter 12 and 13 try to teach all of the irregular verb patterns). While it's a great text for review, I can't imagine it being much fun for someone starting out with Greek. However, I learned with Athenaze, which, while being fun, was a complete disaster for anyone trying to learn the language.

Egnatius learned with Reading Greek, which I've taken a look at a couple of times. While I like the idea of starting students off with large reading passages, there are some serious issues with the book (such as that it teaches only 5 principle parts-- which I think makes life more difficult than it has to be).

Egnatius left a number of books here because he's coming back for graduate school in the fall. One of them of his copy of the Teach Yourself Guides' Complete Ancient Greek. For the last few days I've been looking it over and I've found it really enjoyable. It's nice for a few reasons. First, it seems that it allots the amount of grammar that it teaches in each chapter pretty evenly so it doesn't feel like an overload at any point. The exercises are fun and interesting. Furthermore, the book is half the price or less than any of the other textbooks on the market. However, there are a few strange things. The explanation of contract verbs is too rushed and would be very problematic for anyone who hasn't learned Greek already (Betts 40-41). I think that this is a problem of the Teach Yourself series in general (I found a similar problem with verb explanations in Complete Sanskrit). However, a teacher might be able to remedy this. There are also one or two of the grammatical explanations that bothered me. I will probably be putting those up on the blog over the next few days.

Anyone have a favorite Greek textbook?