Help with Latin texts: Introduction to scansion

Although we now approach ancient texts primarily through the written word, they were originally meant for performance. Poetry in particular was probably chanted or sung, as we know from the use of words relating to music in the opening lines of poems and poetic collections. Nowhere is this performance context more clear than in the use of meter in ancient poetry. Although the untrained viewer can’t see this meter in an ancient text (unlike, for example, the musical notation on modern sheet music), once you know how to scan well, you can quickly begin to recite texts as they were meant to be heard.

The nice thing about scansion is that it’s in many ways easier than other tasks beginning language students have to perform. In this first post, I’ll introduce the two major Latin meters: dactylic hexameter and pentameter.  Continue reading

Help with Research: Perseus under PhiloLogic and Logeion

In my last post, I introduced you to the Perseus Project mirror hosted by the University of Chicago, commonly known as Perseus under PhiloLogic. While my last post covered in general the great text-searching features in the Chicago mirror, in this post, I’m going to go into detail on how to use the Logeion search option.

Continue reading

Forgotten Skills: Formatting a Paper

It’s that time of year again: midterm papers are starting to come due! This short post covers the basics of formatting your paper, from fonts to bibliography. I’m starting with one caveat: students in archaeology, you’re going to want to check with your professors. Archaeology papers are often formatted more like science papers, with separate sections on the materials being examined, the methods used, and the interpretation. If an archaeologist would like to chime in with advice for writing that sort of paper, please do! This piece is intended for papers in history and literature. We also have lots of advice for researching and writing your papers. If you’re at a loss for where to start, check them first or click on the “Undergraduates” link at the bottom of the page! Continue reading

Help with Undergraduate Writing: Word Intermediate

People who have known me for a while know that I have two much younger sisters. They are much more interested in their phones and social media than I am; in fact, I might be the only one of the three of us who actually had a personal (as opposed to work) land line. If this were a story in the newspaper, it would be about the generational divide and the digital native. For what it’s worth, I don’t like this term, which has multiple definitions — and, as usual, the scholarly definition (which centers around multitasking) doesn’t match the common definition (which centers around technology usage). But more importantly, the idea that current students who are more comfortable with technology are also magically better at technology is really dangerous, mainly because it means that technological skills are no longer taught.

As I said in my last post, this is most visible in students who never learned how to use Word. The last post was aimed at true beginners; in this post, we tackle three new topics for the more advanced user.  Continue reading

Help with Undergraduate Writing: Word Basics

As the Chromebook overtakes the K-12 market, I’ve begun to see something strange happen in my classroom: students who don’t know how to use the most basic features of word-processing software such as Microsoft Word. Since Chromebooks use Google Docs for word processing, this is perhaps unsurprising. But, for better or worse, Microsoft is still the industry standard for writing, both in academia and elsewhere. It’s good to know how the software works.

Since the Word Help files are often less-than-helpful, this post will walk through the three most important features a student should know about word: how to change fonts, check your word count, and double-space. Later posts will include more advanced features, such as word and image wrapping, adding pagination, tables, and hyperlinks, as well as book-length tools that will be useful to graduate students: how to set up chapters and an index, and when to use the advanced find/replace.

Are there other things you’d like to know how to do in Word? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Continue reading

Help with Undergraduate Research: Why Google isn’t a good place to look for scholarly articles

We’ve been covering L’Année Philologique over the last two posts, but you might wonder why you should bother to use a bibliographical database at all. Why can’t you just Google when you’re looking for sources? The short answer is that Google is primarily a search engine for the web. Google is not, and does not claim to be, a database of scholarly articles.  Sure, Google Books and Google Scholar are specialized search engines designed to limit search results to articles and books, but they are not the same as an article database.

Continue reading

Help with Bibliographies: L’Année Philologique, part 2

In our last post, we discussed using the Classics database L’Année Philologique through its EBSCO host. But many institutions, particularly those with a dedicated Classics department, will subscribe to APh‘s own hosted service. This post offers advice for using it. If you’re not sure what APh is or why you should use it, read the previous post first and then come back here. Like the EBSCO version, APh Online is a subscription-only service, which means that you will need to access it through your institution’s library login. I’ll start my post with the assumption that you’ve logged in.

Continue reading