GRST 246 Class Commentary


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Livy, Spring 2013
 Instructor: Bert Lott Office: SC 118 Office Hours: MW 9-10:30, or by appointment

Course Objective: The principal goal of this class is to enhance students’ facility at reading and interpreting the Roman author Livy in order to gain a critical appreciation of him as an author as well as insight into the social and historical contexts that he wrote about and wrote in.

Description:  The course reads Book 21 of Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita, which covers the first years of the second Punic War (218-217), which saw the start of the war, Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps and invasion of Italy, and the Roman defeats at Trebia and Trasimine. If time permits, the beginning of Book 22 covering the defeat at Cannae will be read as well.  Class time will be spent discussing the text, its historical context, and the events it describes. Students are expected to prepare the Latin outside of class using the class commentary to discuss grammar and syntax and to raise interpretive points for class.

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Texts: Three books are available in the bookstore:

  1. Livy Book XXI commentary by Walsh (required)
  2. Chambers-Murray Latin dictionary (optional)
  3. A New Latin Syntax, Woodcock (optional)
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Course Requirements:

  1. In class exam, March 6th (15%)
  2. Final exam (15%)
  3. Participation in class (20%): Your preparation for class and participation in class are of the utmost importance to fulfilling the course objective. Therefore I will evaluate your in-class translations and participation in discussion.  These are not “gimme points”. There will be English secondary readings assigned in addition to the Latin readings.  Careful preparation of these readings is equally important.
  4. Participation in Commentary (30%) All students will participate in building the class commentary.
  5. Research paper (20%): All students will write a 10-15 page research paper. Papers must engage directly with Livy, but can be literary, historical, or philological in scope.
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Class Preparation:

We will read at the quickest pace possible.  Students are expected to do significant reading work outside of class before class rather than rely on class to have the meaning of the grammar and syntax explained.  The commentary site is intended to be the primary forum for discussion of grammar, and active participation is required.  I will also participate.

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Class Time:

In class we will read from OCTs provided by me. No notes, vocabulary lists, or annotated texts are allowed.  We are going to read and discuss in an “unmediated” fashion in class. Class time will be divided between reading (as little as possible) and discussion of historical and literary interpretation (as much as possible).

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Class Commentary (pages.vassar.edu/livy):

Everyone is required to make three kinds of posts regularly over the semester: vocabulary, syntax and grammar, and interpretive.

  1. Vocabulary posts:  Everyone must post at least four vocabulary posts a week, every week.  Vocabulary posts (which can address individual words or phrases) should not just provide a definition for a word, but should defend that definition with at least a reference to the Lewis and Short or OLD entry that supports it. These post are intended to help build lexicographical skills. There is often ambiguity about what the precise meaning or nuance of a word is, so a reply that discusses or elaborates on a vocabulary post can count towards your weekly total.
  2. Syntax and grammar posts: Everyone must post at least three syntax and grammar posts a week, every week.  Syntax and grammar posts are intended as a way for you to ask questions about something that is confusing you or to share (with bragging rights) your hard earned conclusions about how a word, phrase, or clause is functioning.  Most syntax & grammar posts should be in the form of a question. Your question can suggest an answer or not. Others can answer or discuss your question.  Answers and discussion posts can count towards your weekly total.  The idea is to answer as many questions about how to read the text as possible before class, so that we can use class time for the most interesting or intractable points of grammar and syntax and for the interpretive discussions.  Therefore, don’t be afraid to disagree and discuss a point until some consensus is reached.
  3. Interpretive posts:  Everyone must post at least two interpretive post a week, every week.  Interpretive posts are intended to suggest literary or historical topics for discussion online or in class.  They can be questions (but not open ended questions like “what’s up with that?”); they can also simply point out something that interested you in the section.  Most interpretive posts should be made in the “comments on whole page” section.  Longer interpretive posts that seem to raise issues related to the whole text can be put in the “general comments” section.  Interpretive posts should begin discussions, so replies that continue to discuss a topic can count towards your weekly totals.

Posts should begin to be made on Friday and continue up to (and beyond) the next week’s classes.  POSTS MADE IN THE HOURS JUST BEFORE CLASS WILL COUNT FOR MUCH LESS! This means you should be reading a little most days and participating in the commentary most days, rather than trying to do all your homework at once the night before class.  This will improve your Latin, I promise.  You are shortchanging yourself, your grade, and everyone if you wait to the last night and simply respond to other people to get your posts in all at once at the last minute.

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Academic support:

 Academic accommodations are available for students with disabilities who are registered with the Office of Disability and Support Services.  Students in need of disability accommodations should schedule an appointment with me early in the semester to discuss any accommodations for this course that have been approved by Office of Disability and Support Services, as indicated in your DSS accommodation letter.

Source: https://pages.vassar.edu/seneca/2013/01/22/syllabus/