Summer Academic Reading Plans

One thing I’ve noticed in working on my primary research project, first as a dissertation and now as a book, is that I’ve gotten away from reading things that are not directly related to that research. As such, I am setting a summer reading goal of one article or book chapter on on the history of the Mediterranean (non-research category), theory or methodology, or pedagogy per weekday. By my count this is about seventy articles. So far the list (see below), consists of twenty five articles—a good start, but too short.

The problem is that I don’t know what I don’t know or, more specifically, I don’t necessarily know what I should be reading. The current iteration of this list is developed from perusing recent journal tables of contents as well as some suggestions crowd-sourced from Twitter, but I could still use more.

So, please, if you have a favorite article or book chapter** that fits the parameters listed above and published in the last fifteen years, I want to hear about it. Tell me what I should be reading!

**I am also open to book suggestions in the same fields and fiction, but already have a long backlog of both.

The List

  • S. Fachard, “A decade of research on Greek fortifications,” AR 62 (2015–2016), 77–88
  • R. Stoneman, “How Many Miles to Babylon?,” G&R 62 (2015), 60–74
  • D.M. Pritchard “Public Finance and War in Ancient Greece,” G&R 62 (2015), 48–59
  • M.J. Taylor, “Sacred Plunder and the Seleucid Near East,” G&R 61 (2014), 222–41
  • D.M. Pritchard, “The Position of Attic Women in Democratic Athens,” G&R 61 (2014) 174–93
  • D.M. Pritchard, “The Archers of Classical Athens,” G&R 65 (2018), 86–102
  • L.M. Yarrow, “How to Read a Diodoros Fragment,” in Diodoros of Sicily, edd. L.I. Hau, A. Meeus, and B. Sheridan (Leuven: 2018), 247–74
  • S.E. Kidd, “How to Gamble in Greek” JHS 137 (2017), 119–34
  • Ali Akhtar, “Enterprising Sultans and the Doge of Venice,” in Arabic Humanities, Islamic Thought, edd. S. Toorawa and J. Lowry (2017), 361–74
  • C. Belsey, Criticism: Ideas in Profile (Profile Books: 2016)
  • M.E. Irwin, “Venturing where Vine and Olive don’t grow.” SyllClass 14 (2003), 83–99
  • D. Tober, “Greek Local Historiography and Its Audiences,” CQ2 67 (2017), 460–84
  • A.W. Collins, “The Persian Royal Tent and Ceremonial and Alexander the Great,” CQ2 67 (2017), 71–6
  • R. Konijnendijk, “Mardonius’ Senseless Greeks,” CQ2 66 (2016), 1–12
  • A. Livarda, “Archaeobotany in Greece,” AR 60 (2013–2014), 106–16
  • M. Yue, “Naming the Greeks in the Archaic Period,” JAC 31 (2016), 45–84
  • S.C. Murray, “Lights and Darks: Data, Labeling, and Language in the History of Scholarship on Early Greece,” Hesperia 87 (2018), 17–54
  • R. Sobak, “Sokrates among the Shoemakers,” Hesperia 84 (2015), 669–712
  • L. Khatchadourian, “The Satrapal Condition,” in Imperial Matter (Los Angeles and Berkeley: 2016), 1–24
  • S.E. Psoma, “Athenian Owls and the royal Macedonian monopoly on Timber,” MHR 30 (2015), 1–18
  • J. Giebfried, “The Mongol Invasions and the Aegean World (1241–61),” MHR 28 (2013), 129–39
  • C. Rowan, “Coinage as commodity and bullion in the Western Mediterranean,” MHR 28 (2013), 105–27
  • J. Haubold, “The Achaemenid Empire and the Sea,” MHR 27 (2012), 5–24
  • K.L. Gaca “Reinterpreting the Homeric Simile of Iliad 16.7–11: The Girl and Her Mother in Ancient Greek Warfare,” AJPh 129 (2008), 145–71
  • S. Greenblatt, “Theatrical Mobility”, in Cultural Mobility, ed. S. Greenblatt (Cambridge: 2009), 75–95

(Re)visions and Assignments

Every student paper should be revised. More than once. In an ideal world, that is; in the real world there are problems of scale and deadlines.

Periodically I receive an request from a student to revise a paper in return for extra credit. In the past when teaching in surveys of American history with up to a hundred students at a time, I feel obliged to reject these requests. I would love it for students to revise their papers, but extra credit is not something I can extend to just one student in good conscience and there isn’t enough time in the semester to let every student do this unless it is built into the course. On the one hand, I feel bad about rejecting some of these requests since I am acutely aware of the challenges facing the current generation of college students; on the other hand, though, the requests are framed in terms of getting a higher grade, not in terms of education.

This disparity comes in part from the nature of these assignments. I suspect that nobody has looked at a survey-level essay on the changing conceptions of race in America from 1865 to 1925 as an opportunity to write a brilliant and incisive critique of race in America. Even if the author has a fiery passion for the topic, the prompt and supporting materials don’t lend themselves to it. The disparity also speaks volumes about how courses like this one are treated. They are a grade, not an opportunity to learn about American history or learn practical skills such as writing or rhetoric.

Returning to the nature of the assignments, one-off submission that return marked and assigned a grade lend themselves to thinking about the assignment in terms of the grade instead of in terms of process. I understand the counter argument that history classes are for teaching history and not for teaching writing, particularly in these large survey courses. And yet, history is fundamentally discursive.

This fashioning of history, along with how we remember history, is going to be a point of emphasis this fall when I teach a survey of archaic and classical Greek history. I am going to do this not only because of the recent and not-so-recent appropriations of antiquity for political agendas, but also because I hope that pushing people to think about these issues in a Greek context will make it possible to think about in our contemporary context.

I am also planning some opportunities for my students to revise their work, made possible in large part because of a smaller class size. As of right now the idea is to give an option for students to revise at least one of their assignments for a higher grade, as well as making that type of assignment recur once more later in the semester in order to maximize the benefit for the student. The plan is to have revisions take place in two phases, with the first being that they come meet with me to discuss the assignment, before then making revisions based on both the written comments and conversation. My hope is that in addition to setting assignments that push the students to write a decent amount, adding this (optional) revision stage will meet the students halfway toward thinking about assignments qua grades. That is, maximize the students’ opportunity to earn a higher grade while underscoring that writing (and thinking) is a process that doesn’t happen simply by vomiting words onto a page.