Update on Digital Latin Library

The Digital Latin Library (DLL) will be a site on the Internet where people with varying levels of interest and expertise in Latin can find, read, discuss, study, teach, edit, and annotate Latin texts of all eras, whether for personal use or for open-access, peer-reviewed publication by one of the three learned societies affiliated with the project: the American Philological Association (APA), the Medieval Academy of America (MAA), and the Renaissance Society of America (RSA). Similar to a traditional public research library, the DLL will have a catalog, a variety of collections of texts and reference materials, and working space for both individuals and groups. Unlike a research library, it will also provide tools to facilitate the creation and publication of open, born-digital critical editions and other scholarly and pedagogical resources that take full advantage of powerful technologies and techniques such as Linked Open Data (LOD), information visualization, and visual data analysis, opening up new possibilities for the communication of scholarly ideas.

In the last year, with the support of a planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (AWMF), members of the APA, the MAA, and the RSA explored the possibility of creating a resource that would usher in a renaissance in scholarly editing and communication in all fields concerned with the Latin language. The group determined that it is not just feasible, but highly desirable to pursue an implementation grant to build a virtual, ubiquitous, sustainable, working space for scholars and readers of Latin texts.

The recent launch of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) has demonstrated the power of Linked Open Data in making information from disparate sources available through a single point of access. Instead of keeping copies of documents and files on its own servers, the DPLA provides ready access to collections in hundreds of other libraries all at the same time. Because those institutions already use commonly accepted standards for their data and metadata, the DPLA can harvest that information and make it available in a single, uniform interface.

The DLL aims to do for Latin what the DPLA has done for materials in public libraries across the United States: provide a single point of access to all Latin texts on the Internet, along with resources and a place for reading and working with them. A major challenge for the DLL is that the Latin projects already in existence do not have much in common other than that they are on the Internet. That is why the DLL working group devoted a significant amount of our planning phase to discussing and developing a metadata standard for describing authors and works in a way that addresses the unique challenges of ancient resources such as fragmentary texts, spurious works, florilegia, myriad anonymous authors, and the intricate relationships between manuscripts.

Since existing catalogs or catalogs in development (e.g., the Perseus Catalog, the Classical Works Knowledge Base) of Latin literature stop at the eighth century CE, a mission of the DLL will be to expand and extend the coverage to authors and texts through the middle ages and into the Renaissance. To that end, the DLL team will spearhead the effort to promote adoption of LOD and a common metadata standard on other sites so that we can approach our admittedly asymptotic goal of providing a single point of access to all Latin texts in existence.

But the DLL will be more than just a virtual card catalog; it will be a library in every sense of the word, with resources and support for the production of new scholarship and educational materials. Once users find the texts they want to read, they will be able either to visit the site that hosts it or, if the text is openly available and in a compatible format, to import it into a working space for use with the resources of the DLL. A number of interfaces will facilitate activities such as reading and annotating texts, either privately or in open collaboration with other users; textual analysis with grammatical, lexical, and search tools; visual analysis with highly interactive data navigation and dissection tools; and collaborative learning and scholarship.

The Library of Digital Latin Texts.  Although some patrons will use the DLL’s space for private study or teaching, others will use it to produce new critical editions and submit them for publication to one or more of the learned societies affiliated with this project. These editions, published together as The Library of Digital Latin Texts, will gradually become not only the centerpiece of the DLL, but standard editions for scholarly use, since they will provide much more information about texts and their transmission than traditional print editions can. The Library of Digital Latin Texts will also provide a reliable model for peer-reviewed publication in the era of Open Access.

The Library of Digital Latin Texts is in many ways the boldest part of this entire project, since it will reimagine the critical edition for the digital age. The editorial techniques established over centuries of practice and scholarly debate will not be swept aside; rather, The Library of Digital Latin Texts will provide an outlet for realizing the full potential of those techniques, long hampered by the constraints of traditional print publication.

Until recently, none of the Latin texts available online had a critical apparatus, which meant they were of limited use to scholars. There are two main reasons for the absence of the critical apparatus: copyright protect and technical difficulty in displaying the information. To date, the sites that have presented an apparatus with their texts have more or less reproduced the format of a printed edition, leaving editorial information abbreviated and removed to the bottom or side of the page. In the case of a printed edition, this format makes economic sense: publishers are reluctant to sacrifice room on the page for something that only specialists will understand.

Free of those constraints, editions published in The Library of Digital Latin Texts will have an enhanced critical apparatus capable of far more than listing variants and conjectures. Editors will be able to explain in situ their arguments for or against certain readings, calling upon all of the resources of the web (e.g., descriptions and/or images of the manuscript in question) for support. Scholarly discussion of the editor’s decisions can occur in real time, instead of according to the timetables of the diverse outlets that publish textual notes and reviews. Because the entries will be in human- and machine-readable form (i.e., according to the standards of the Resource Description Framework), they will be readable and queryable by both humans and machines, which means that even the sophisticated word-searches that we have been able to perform with existing tools will pale by comparison, since the robust techniques of data analysis will finally become available to scholars of Latin texts. As more editions are added to The Library of Digital Latin Texts, its capabilities will increase, as will the possibilities for new avenues of research.

The commitment of the APA, MAA, and RSA to vet proposals for new editions and to provide peer review and editorial oversight through their respective research and publications divisions is the most exciting component of the project’s sustainability. In the past, organizations such as the APA entered into partnerships with commercial presses to print, bind, market, and distribute their scholarly resources. Such partnerships often involved the author and/or the author’s home institution paying subvention fees or other expenses associated with commercial ventures. The DLL eliminates those expenses. Scholars will produce editions and submit them to the appropriate learned society for review. The learned society will decide whether or not an edition is worthy of publication. Those deemed worthy will be published under the aegis of the learned society on the DLL in an openly accessible form, under a Creative Commons license. The entire process will preserve the time-honored elements of scholarly publication: independent scholarship, peer review, endorsement by an editorial board, and the widest distribution possible.

Samuel J. Huskey
APA Information Architect and DLL Project Director
 

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That contingent faculty members make up a significant portion of those teaching on college campuses today is a well-known fact. This fact also holds true in our own fields of study (e.g. Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology and Art History), and over the years much attention has (rightfully) been paid to the many challenges and problems that stem from this reliance on contingent labor. At the same time, and despite these challenges and problems, contingent faculty members have been making important contributions to our fields in the areas of service, teaching, outreach and research, and these contributions have only grown in their significance as the number of scholars working in these positions has grown. As members of the Committee on Contingent Faculty, we believe it is time to acknowledge these contributions and celebrate the accomplishments of faculty who are working off the tenure track in our related fields. While we continue to search for solutions to the problems of contingency and advocate for those in precarious positions, we think it is equally important to bring visibility to some of these exceptional members of our scholarly community. To that end we seek to publish a series of individual profiles/interviews on the SCS blog over the course of the next year featuring some of our NTT colleagues at various stages in their careers, who are making a difference and making their mark in our discipline.

View full article. | Posted in on Tue, 12/31/2019 - 1:50pm by Chiara Sulprizio.
 
The SCS Board is delighted to announce a new prize, which will be awarded for the first time in 2020. The Gruen Prize honors Erich S. Gruen, Gladys Rehard Wood Professor of History and Classics Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley.  It will be an essay prize for the best graduate student research on multiculturalism in the ancient Mediterranean, and submissions about any aspect of race, ethnicity, or cultural exchange will be considered. 
View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Tue, 12/31/2019 - 11:04am by Helen Cullyer.

The SCS is pleased to announce the appointment of Patrice Rankine and Sasha-Mae Eccleston as guest editors of a future issue of TAPA with the theme of race, racism, and Classics. A detailed call for papers will be issued in early 2020, and a timetable for submissions will be provided. This themed issue is likely to appear as TAPA 153:1 in spring 2023.

View full article. | Posted in Websites and Resources on Sun, 12/29/2019 - 7:32pm by Helen Cullyer.

SCS is pleased to be able to offer professional learning units (PLUs) to K-12 teachers in the District of Columbia who attend the AIA-SCS Annual Meeting from January 2-5 at the Marriott Marquis, Washington DC. Forms for PLUs will be available at the SCS booth in the exhibit hall.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Sun, 12/29/2019 - 7:12pm by Helen Cullyer.

It might seem that Plato and Xenophon have little in common with heavy metal bands; however, they do share an admiration for those warlords of Laconia: the Spartans. In a word, each expressed a degree of laconophilia. What drew ancient philosophers and heavy metal bands alike to Sparta may be a feeling of disenchantment with their respective mainstreams. Socrates’ pupils were no doubt disillusioned with Athenian democracy following his execution in 399 BCE, and the Spartan alternative arguably inspired in Plato’s Republic and Xenophon’s Constitution of the Spartans was a type of escapist fantasy.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 12/27/2019 - 5:55am by Jeremy J. Swist.

The SCS Board is delighted to announce a new prize, which will be awarded for the first time in 2020. The Gruen Prize honors Erich S. Gruen, Gladys Rehard Wood Professor of History and Classics Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley.  It will be an essay prize for the best graduate student research on multiculturalism in the ancient Mediterranean, and submissions about any aspect of race, ethnicity, or cultural exchange will be considered. 

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Mon, 12/23/2019 - 9:53am by Helen Cullyer.

The 2020 Annual Meeting is less than two weeks away.  Registration numbers continue to be strong, but we are still lagging behind with the reservations at the Renaissance hotel.  We understand that some attendees will opt to stay with local friends or find a less-expensive accommodation, but we rely on hotel reservations to secure the meeting space each year.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Sat, 12/21/2019 - 7:03am by Helen Cullyer.

In November of 1897, a review of an English poetry collection titled The Flower of  the Mind was published in literary journal The Academy. In his review of Alice Meynell’s anthology of the great English poems, publisher Grant Richards ruminated on the difficulties, worth, and effects of anthologies as a genre:

Anthologies, these latter years, come thick as Vallombrosa…For the making of an anthology is not merely the prettiest of literary amusements, it is also a delicate and fine mode of criticism. To select is to judge; tacitly, but no less deliberately. Admission or exclusion becomes the last word of a patient investigation, in the course of which, tests for genius are devised, and many an established reputation fails to sustain the ordeal. A history of anthologies would be a curious chronicle of the slow but inevitable determination of greatness.

The invention of literary anthologies, canonical readings, and sourcebooks goes back to antiquity and debates over their construction are perhaps just as archaic. Within the history of western education, the genre is a result of ancient and then medieval teachers and religious figures who privileged the teaching of texts from Homer, Virgil, or Augustine for generations.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 12/20/2019 - 8:12am by Sarah E. Bond.

Special tours for AIA / SCS: January 2, 2020, 3:00-5:00 pm
Woven Interiors: Furnishing Early Medieval Egypt and Cotsen Textile Traces Study Center
The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum
701 21st Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

Woven Interiors (closing on Jan. 5), co-organized by The Textile Museum and Dumbarton Oaks, presents 45 exceptional interior textiles from the villas, palaces, churches, mosques, and humble homes of late antique and early medieval Egypt (300–1000). Join us for curator-led tours of the exhibition and for a preview of The Cotsen Textile Traces Study Center. Tours will rotate throughout the 2 hour period, so we hope you can join us as your schedules permit. Museum/tour admission free with conference badge or proof of AIA/SCS membership.

The GWUM-TM is located just 1.4 miles from the Marriott Marquis. In addition to walking or taking a taxi/Uber, visitors can use the Metro: from the Mt. Vernon Sq. Station, take the Yellow/Green Metro toward Branch Ave./Huntington, exit at the third stop at L’Enfant Plaza; transfer to Blue/Orange/Silver toward Franconia/Springfield/Vienna/Wiehle-Reston, and exit at the sixth stop at Foggy Bottom-GWU stop; the Museum is just 0.4 miles walk, two blocks east and one block south between H and G Sts. on 21st St. NW. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 12/19/2019 - 12:06pm by Erik Shell.

Latin Lexicography Summer School: 20–24 July, 2020

          The Thesaurus Linguae Latinae Institute invites applications for its annual Latin Lexicography Summer School, which will take place in Munich from July 20 to 24, 2020. We welcome participation by researchers at any stage in their career whose work engages rigorously and critically with Latin vocabulary, whether in specific texts or across the entire corpus of ancient Latin. In addition to philology, relevant disciplines include intellectual history, epigraphy, linguistics, literary and textual criticism, medieval and Renaissance studies, philosophy, and theology. This year Prof. Wolfgang de Melo will be present as the scholar in residence.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 12/18/2019 - 2:38pm by Erik Shell.

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