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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The poster for RU an Antígone? A black background with a Parthenon marble cast in the center, shaped like a headless male body reclining on its left side, propped up on its left arm, which is covered in drapery. The text reads: RU an Antigone?

RU an Antígone?, a play based on Sara Uribe’s Antígona González, was performed by Rockford University students on November 12, 2021. The performers were part of a fall semester course, CLAS 262, “Staging Politics in Antiquity and Today.” Students from different fields — including Nursing, Biochemistry, Education, Languages, and Political Science — took the stage to become Mexican Antigones and talk about missing people, violence, and disappearances in Latin America today.

On stage for the performance were two bodies, transported from the basement of the same building where the performance took place, Rockford University’s Scarborough Hall. A male and a female body. Two bodies “made of stone.” Two plaster casts of two of the so-called “Elgin marbles.” These castings came from Europe to the Art Institute of Chicago in the 19th century and, from there, to Rockford University in 1946. Those mythological images that have come from Europe to the Americas are part of our heritage.

Similarly, the story of Antigone has traveled from ancient Thebes to Mexico to prompt reflection and discussion about the thousands of disappearances in Latin America during the last decades. The Greek Antigone could bury her brother’s corpse, but this Mexican Antígona is still searching among the dead for the corpse of her brother.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 01/24/2022 - 10:16am by Yoandy Cabrera Ortega.
An illustration of an infographic titled "How UVM Admin Manufactured the Arts & Sciences Budget Crisis"

Happy news and an update on affairs at UVM.

A generous gift from Emeritus Professor Z. Philip Ambrose will let us maintain our MA program, and with it most of our undergraduate language curriculum, for the next five years at least. Please help us spread the word and encourage eligible students to apply for one of two very substantial fellowships that we can now offer each year. Our small program is familial yet rigorous, with a strong record of graduates securing doctoral fellowships as well as teaching positions in public and private schools. Our research collection is superb, from generations of active curation and endowed library funds. Burlington is also a fantastic place to pass two years. Information about our program, and a link to the application portal, are available here. Further questions may be directed to Dr. Jacques Bailly, DGS.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 01/21/2022 - 11:28am by .

2023 NumIG CFP

Call for Papers

“Ancient Coins and Portraiture”

Organized by the Numismatics Interest Group of the Archaeological Institute of America

For the Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America

Jan. 5-8, 2023, New Orleans, LA

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 01/18/2022 - 4:18pm by Helen Cullyer.
The logo for Asterion. A wide oval with a black background filled with stars. In the middle is a red circle with a Greek meander pattern, and inside the circle text reads "Asterion: Neurodiverse Classics."

As an autistic classicist, one of the things I’ve always struggled with is social interaction. In class, I teach students about Bourdieu and habitus and cultural scripts, while all the time feeling that, whatever the cultural script of our time is, mine got lost in the mail. I’ve spent my life pretending (without much success) to understand people and the codes that underpin their actions. The easiest solution for me has always been to hide because, when I’m on my own, I’m not uncomfortable, awkward, or afraid.

But hiding sends the wrong message and models the wrong behavior, as I realized when my son was diagnosed with autism, too. How can you advise a child to pretend to be like everyone else, because difference makes them a target? How can you warn them that their honesty will make them an outcast, their sensitivities will make them vulnerable, and their hyperempathy will make them a victim? How can you commit to inclusion in your professional life while accepting exclusion in your personal life?

You can’t — or, at least, I couldn’t.

View full article. | Posted in on Tue, 01/18/2022 - 9:38am by .
A brightly colored manuscript page. On the left is calligraphy in Sanskrit; on the right is a woman in printed garb sitting in a carriage pulled by two white horses. She makes a gesture with her two palms press together. A black figure looks back at her.

Like many educators, I have found myself in an endless loop lately of thinking and rethinking my teaching principles and practices — a loop caused by the unprecedented teaching conditions the pandemic has brought upon us. Though I consider myself a thoughtful instructor, I admit that I have never thought so extensively, carefully, and critically about the purposes and desired outcomes of my teaching as I have in the months between March 2020 and now. Each week of each semester involves calibrating and recalibrating my courses, as I hope to meet the needs of my students and help them balance their lives within the classroom and without. I have become more attuned to the extramural realities that bear on my students’ learning, and as someone who works at a Hispanic-serving Institution, a desire for inclusivity increasingly informs the way I teach. My own institution just recently offered its first workshop on culturally responsive pedagogy, which provided me with many new tools for teaching in inclusive ways. Among other things, I realized that any kind of responsive pedagogy involves constant conversation with one’s colleagues, to generate, refresh, and fine-tune ways of teaching with a view toward inclusion and accessibility.

View full article. | Posted in on Sun, 01/09/2022 - 9:37pm by .
A Macbook sits on a wooden desk showing a Zoom screen filled with faces. Left of it, a turquoise mug sits on the desk.

To write about the Capitol Insurrection, as the one-year anniversary approached, I went back through my chat logs from January 6, 2021, in the interest of refreshing and confirming my memory. What I found, in lieu of any particularly meaningful conclusions, was a window into that day and how some friends and I were dealing with catastrophic events as they unfolded.

That day, I had a university meeting wedged between SCS panels, and I think I actually found the precise moment when I realized what was going on. That moment is a fairly profanity-laden series of messages with a very-online friend of mine, to whom I sent “So what the fuck is happening in DC?? I've been in meetings and the capitol building is being stormed??” followed by “i allegedly have another meeting right now and i am physically nauseous after having like a 5 minute break and seeing the news.”

In all my other group chats, things progressed about the same. Conversation about the SCS conference and pre-semester preparation, interrupted by a confused panic about what was happening on the news. A bunch of millennial classicists trying frantically to figure out where they can watch live news and wondering why all the afternoon panels weren’t canceled (though some were), processing anger and fear in countless group-chats and DMs.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 01/07/2022 - 12:48pm by .
A painting of Rome featuring a crowd of men fighting on a hill. Behind them is an obelisk, a column, and a toppled white marble statue of a nude man.

At 2:00 pm on January 6th, 2021, a mob made its way up the steps of the U.S. Capitol following a morning of brinkmanship, speeches, and speculation. I sat in my office at home, logged into a Zoom session, watching Twitter and a streaming news channel on one screen, all while pretending to be engaged with the beginning of an SCS Panel, “The Powers and Perils of Solitude in Greek Literature.”

At 2:20 or so, I was slated to begin a talk entitled “Being Human, Being Alone” as the Capitol was evacuated and our legislators were put under protection. At 2:24 pm, President Trump tweeted, “Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 01/06/2022 - 10:00am by .
A monochromatic stone statue of a man with short hair wrapped in a toga and sitting in a large chair. His right arm is leaning on the back of the chair, and his left hand holds a writing tablet on his lap. The base of the statue reads "SALLVSTIVS"

What do you read for an insurrection? Classics offers plenty of material for revolutionary bibliophiles: compilations for the budding revolutionary, handbooks for coups both successful and failed. The Capitol rioters certainly had their Classics before their eyes, as Curtis Dozier outlined shortly after the event: Caesar and XenophonVergil and Herodotus.

But in January 2021, I was reading Sallust—and an apt choice it was, too. Not because of what Sallust writes — Catiline’s attempt to overthrow the government or Marius’ attempt to change Roman institutions — but because of what he passes over. He was there at the swelling of the atmosphere that led to the burning of the Senate house on January 19th (what is it about Januaries?), 52 bce, during the funeral of Publius Clodius.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 01/05/2022 - 11:20am by .
New WCC logo reading WCC 50th, 1972-2022. Beige font on a dusty pink background.

The year was 1971. In the lobby of a hotel in Cincinnati, OH, a small group of early career faculty and graduate students, mostly women, met and decided to form a caucus. Frustrated by the lack of transparency, mentors, and opportunities in Classics both for women in the field and for those who studied women in antiquity, they wanted something different, both for themselves and for future generations. At the next year’s Annual Meeting of the American Philological Association (APA) in Philadelphia, PA, they made it official. The Women’s Classical Caucus (WCC) was born.

By phone, mail, and intermittent gatherings at regional conferences and the APA (now SCS), the founders and early members of this young caucus stayed connected and encouraged each other in its early decades to publish feminist scholarship and introduce to their departments new, revolutionary courses on “women in antiquity,” which received almost immediate backlash.

Fast forward 50 years, and it’s hard to imagine a time when women and feminist scholars were not a strong presence in the profession, whether publishing scholarship through the lens of feminist theory, teaching about ancient women at both the K-12 and university levels, or taking on leadership roles both in the SCS and in their local institutions.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 01/03/2022 - 10:14am by .

Every year at the annual meeting we hold the Career Networking event, a meeting that gives academics access to former classicists, historians, and archeologists who have made career shifts into new fields. They speak candidly about their transition, and are there to offer advice to anyone looking to change career paths. This year we have more networkers than in any year previous, with a broad range of fields and experiences represented.

We will hold our annual Career Networking event at this year's virtual AIA/SCS Annual Meeting on Saturday, January 8th, from 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Please block off time to attend this extraordinarily helpful event. It'll be accessible through the digital meeting platform.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 01/03/2022 - 9:01am by Erik Shell.

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