Podcast listening is more popular than ever. Data from the large Infinite Dial survey shows steady yearly growth in the share of adults over 12 who have listened to at least one podcast. In 2016, 36% reported having done so, for an estimated 96 million people nationwide. The time is therefore right for classicists to embrace this medium for public engagement.
While podcasting takes time and preparation and may have a steep learning curve, it is very rewarding. Research interests come alive in a new way when you create and share your ideas via podcasting. Listener responses will help you develop your ideas in new directions. Podcasting also breaks down academia’s walls, creating a wider audience and inviting the public to see what scholars do and why it matters.
How do we support those who wish to push beyond what they can learn from the languages that they know? New developments in Digital Humanities offer some intriguing avenues for dealing with scholarly material in unfamiliar languages, even if present achievements only highlight more challenges. In the following visualization, David Mimno of Cornell and Thomas Koentges of Leipzig have identified recurring clusters of words in a collection of Greek Christian Church Fathers. The works of these men were produced over more than a thousand years and amount to more than 30 million words. I do not think many specialists in Christian Church history have read this entire corpus, and I do not believe that any human being has ever been able to read a collection this large critically—it is just too big.
The online Packard Humanities Institute’s Classical Latin Texts (PHI) makes freely available material that was originally included on the PHI’s CD ROM 5.3, issued in 1991. It contains the vast majority of Latin literary texts written before 200 CE, as well as a handful of Latin texts from late antiquity. It therefore offers an alternative to two other free online resources: The Latin Library and the Perseus Project. The former has already been reviewed for this blog by Ted Gellar-Goad, and some of his criticisms of it apply equally to PHI.
This article was originally published in Amphora 12.1. It has been edited slightly to adhere to current SCS blog conventions. All links are active, however, some information such as pricing may have changed.
How can classicists best integrate students into the production of research? On the one hand, it usually takes many years of training to gain mastery of Latin and Greek; on the other, debates around the liberal arts in today’s academia are driving a renewal of teaching methods towards more practical approaches and transferable research skills.
A vibrant community of Classicists is working on these issues. There are now abundant digitized primary sources like manuscripts, inscriptions, and papyri, on which students can practice the basics while making small, though real, new scholarly contributions under expert guidance.
By carrying out syntactical analysis of Latin and Greek sentences in a process called treebanking, students can contribute new data that can be used to address various scholarly questions.