Posted by Dennis » 3 Comments »
I’ve been shirking my duties here to focus on those of being a full-time Latin teacher, but now that I have a three day weekend, I thought I’d write up a little guide for burgeoning classicists trying to make their way through the academy. This is really very simple: success is adherence to a number of predictable formulae.
Our first installment: How to Choose a Title.
Never make the mistake of giving away a paper’s subject with an accurate title. Repeat after me: mystery invites interest, cleverness invites admiration, accuracy invites your reader to question your politics, or at least to yawn.
You have two ways to go here: (1) quotation + alliteration, or (2) the magical number three.
The first is probably the most popular (and successful) today, and consists of quoting a profound-ish line ripped from its context (though sometimes a ‘cleverly’ altered cliche will do), followed (usually) by a two-term alliterative phrase (…: x and y in the …).
You really can’t go wrong with ‘Blah blah blah blah: poetics and politics of such-and-such in whatchamacallit of so-and-so.’ Another winner (currently on the rise): ‘gender and genre in the such-and-such of so-and-so.’
Don’t worry if you’re unsure what poetics is, or how gender and genre can be manipulated to make a point. That doesn’t matter. Professional classicists will be so impressed by your cleverness that they’ll let such small concerns slide. Attention to detail is what led to the extinction of the Philologists, and good riddance.
The second option, the magical number three, has the distinct advantage of not being the number two. Two is such a small number, and binary opposition is frankly gauche. Let me explain:
If you were to write a paper on, say, motherhood and murder in Euripidean tragedy, your subject would appear to be just as arbitrary as it actually is. But along comes magical number three, and we suddenly have the suggestion of a theme. Anything will do, but how do we decide? Alliteration to the rescue again! Let’s say ‘myth.’
Plug them into the formula: ‘Myth, Murder, and Motherhood in the Tragedies of Euripides.’ That sure sounds like a paper!
If you simply begin arranging words according to established patterns, your papers will seem to write themselves. Here’s a term paper for one of our more adventurous readers: ‘Unmovable Feast: Symposium and Sin in the Poetry of Archaic Greece.
Half the fun is pretending that it makes sense.
Posted by Eric » Add Comment »
I’m planning to take a few days off from blogging Quintilian so that I can actually catch up with the readings. I know, I know–of all people, I should be caught up since I’m the one actually posting them. But, hey.
Anyway, I’ll try to get it going again after a few days.
Posted by Eric » Add Comment »
XXVIII. Est etiam huic tropo quaedam cum synecdoche vicinia; nam cum dico “vultus hominis” pro vultu, dico pluraliter quod singulare est: sed non id ago, ut unum ex multis intellegatur (nam id est manifestum), sed nomen inmuto: et cum aurata tecta “aurea”, pusillum ab ea discedo, quia non est pars auratura. Quae singula persequi minutioris est curae etiam non oratorem instruentibus.
28. The following kind of trope has also some affinity with the synecdoche. When I say vultus hominis, “the looks of a man,” I express in the plural that which is singular. Yet I do not make it my object that one may be understood out of many (for my meaning is evident), but make an alteration only in the term. When I call, also, gilded ceilings “golden ceilings,” I deviate a little from the truth, as the gilding is but a part. To notice all such expressions, however, would be too trifling an employment, even for those who are not forming an orator.