Digital Latin Library Project
In 2012, the American Philological Association, with the endorsement and collaboration of the Medieval Academy of America and the Renaissance Society of America, applied for and received a planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to work toward creating a new, openly accessible, online library of Latin texts.
For the purposes of this project, "library" refers to the services (e.g., cataloging), working space, and texts one expects in a traditional library, but in a digital form. The centerpiece of the project is a Linked Open Data architecture that will serve as a kind of card catalog for all Latin texts available on the web, whether openly or behind a paywall. That architecture will facilitate the development of applications to use, search, and analyze textual data. There will also be a digital working space where scholars and students of Latin can work with texts and various resources. The library will also publish new critical editions, commentaries, text notes, etc., under the aegis of one or more of the three learned societies involved in the project.
The planning stage will end in July 2013, at which time the APA, MAA, and RSA will evaluate the project and decide whether or not to pursue funding for the implementation stage.
- Samuel J. Huskey, Project Leader (APA Information Architect, University of Oklahoma)
- Roger Bagnall (Leon Levy Director, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World—NYU)
- Kathleen Coleman (Harvard University)
- Cynthia Damon (University of Pennsylvania)
- Tom Elliott (Associate Director for Digital Programs and Senior Research Scholar, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World—NYU)
- Denis Feeney (Princeton University, APA President)
- Michael Gagarin (University of Texas, APA VP for Publications and Research)
- Jim Ginther (St. Louis University, Representative of the Medieval Academy of America)
- Sander Goldberg (UCLA, APA Textbooks Series Editor)
- Jeffrey Henderson (Boston University, APA Immediate Past President)
- Robert Kaster (Princeton University)
- John Miller (University of Virginia)
- Jim O'Donnell (Georgetown University)
- Diana Robin (Newberry Library, Representative of the Renaissance Academy of America)
Last updated on January 29, 2013.
The Research Division has charge of all of the Association's activities in fostering scholarly research and the development of materials for research. It currently manages four major projects
- the American Office of L’Année philologique, the essential bibliographical resource in classics. The online version of L’Année contains data produced by the APA’s Database of Classical Bibliography project.
- the selection of the postdoctoral fellow that the APA sends each year, thanks to funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, to the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae in Munich, the world's most detailed lexicographical project on classical Latin.
- the archive of performances of classical works
- the Digital Latin Library Project
The Division also collaborates with other major projects in classics that are not managed by the APA:
- the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, the comprehensive database of ancient and Byzantine Greek
- the Ancient World Mapping Center (AWMC), which promotes cartography, historical geography and geographic information science as essential disciplines within the field of ancient studies. The AWMC is carrying on the work begun with the publication of the Barrington Atlas of the Ancient World which was sponsored by the APA.
The Division’s Committee on Research monitors the resources available to scholars conducting research in classics and encourages the development of new tools when it identifies needs and opportunities.
APA STATEMENT ON RESEARCH
1. Classical Studies Today
Modern research in classical studies focuses on the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome, both in their own right and within the much broader context of the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, Middle East and Western Europe. Both the historical impact of these civilizations and their continuing relevance and value in the modern world are of central interest. While 'classical' education was once based almost exclusively on the study of texts inherited from the ancient world, today's research is done from many diverse points of view and uses a vast range of texts and material remains which continue to increase as the ancient world continues to be rediscovered. In addition to scholarship based directly on traditional philological, textual, and historical methodologies, modern research considers also the political, social and economic structures, science and technology, religions and philosophies, and creative and performing arts of the ancient world. The field of classical studies is by its very nature interdisciplinary, and was the first interdisciplinary field in the Humanities.
This wider range of materials and approaches allows modern classical scholars to generate new editions and new understandings of even the most familiar authors and events. Classicists also have ongoing interactions with many other modern disciplines (most of which have their own roots in Greek and Roman thought), and with broader theoretical developments within and beyond the humanities. Through their historical depth and interdisciplinary breadth classical studies contribute vitally to our understanding of today's world in areas such as literature, government and law, ideologies, religions and their conflicts, trade, international relations, and multiculturalism.
2. Research Training and Practice
Research training in classical studies normally requires a rigorous six- to seven-year doctoral program which includes both general training in the field and the development of a specific expertise through the preparation of a doctoral thesis. The general training is designed to provide competence in reading ancient Greek and Latin texts and a broad knowledge of the Greek and Roman world in its historical context. Training also may encourage familiarity with a range of documents and artifacts, competence in reading scholarly literature in several modern languages (typically German, French and/or Italian, in addition to English), and a broad awareness of the field, its specializations and scholarly history, and its relevance to the modern world. Specializations may be in language, literature, history, archaeology, material culture, art, philosophy, science, religion, economic, political or social structures, or in technical areas such as archaeological fieldwork, epigraphy (the study of inscriptions), papyrology and paleography (the study of ancient and medieval texts and documents), and numismatics (the study of coins). Command of primary source material –literary and documentary texts, images, artifacts, archaeological sites and data –is at the core of scholarship in all of these areas. Students acquire research and writing skills needed for scholarly publications, as well as skills used in teaching and communicating with a broader non-specialist public. (Advice on preparing work for publication is given in the APA's online statement Publishing the Scholarly Article in Classical Studies.)
Research in the field proceeds through the ongoing dialogue of publication and discussion. Peer assessment and evaluation are vital elements in the research process. Research proposals, funding applications, and submissions for publication are typically assessed by two or three anonymous referees as well as by the responsible agency or editorial committee. Many journals include reviews of published books, and a few are devoted wholly to reviews. Electronic publication and the production of electronic resources are beginning to become accepted as valid forms of scholarly output subject to the same general criteria of evaluation.
The depth, range and complexity of classical scholarship mean that junior scholars in the field usually mature slowly and senior scholars are often committed to multi-year projects. Appointment to an assistant professorship is based primarily on the dissertation and teaching experience during graduate school. Sometimes new Ph.D.'s have produced a few conference-papers, short articles or reviews as well. In recent years there has been a trend to publish work in conference proceedings, companions, and collections of various sources. Appointment to tenured rank frequently requires, besides accomplished teaching and professional service, the publication of a book and/or several substantial articles along with evidence of their quality and of further substantial research in preparation. Whereas some areas of classical studies lend themselves to collaborative efforts in scholarship, for many classicists good research requires individual study, reflection, and solitude.
Materials for research in classical studies are highly varied and widely scattered geographically. Much of the material evidence must be studied in its original settings in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Museums in these areas and in North America conserve and provide access to artifacts such as inscriptions, pottery, sculpture, metalwork, coins, wall paintings, mosaics and architectural remains. Some major research libraries hold collections of ancient papyri and the medieval and renaissance manuscripts through which ancient texts were transmitted to the modern world. Academic libraries have larger or smaller collections of modern editions and scholarly literature. Within North America there are specialized research institutions such as the Center for Hellenic Studies and the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies in Washington D.C. In the Mediterranean area, research is facilitated by the American Academy in Rome, the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, the Canadian Academic Institute in Athens, and many similar institutions sponsored by other countries.
As the scope of investigation in classical studies has broadened, so have research methods and organization. Electronic resources are increasingly important, and their creation and development have become a major area of scholarly activity. Classicists have led the way in building such projects at the national and international level. For example, the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae was the first comprehensive electronic database of any literature and Stoa is one of the pioneering organizations fostering refereed scholarly publication in the humanities. Some large-scale projects and international collaborations are assisted by national funding agencies and academic bodies, and the APA has been active in sponsorship and promotion. Electronic resources developed in recent years include databases of texts and images, topic-based collections of information for study and teaching, virtual re-creations of archaeological sites, language teaching resources, searchable dictionaries and bibliographies, and journal and review publications. Notable examples include the Perseus Digital Library (a comprehensive collection of information on the classical Greek world), Demos (a digital encyclopedia of Athenian democracy), VRoma (an online resource for teaching Latin and ancient Roman culture), Diotima (materials for the study of women and gender in the ancient world), the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (a comprehensive database of ancient Greek texts), Ancient Greek Tutorials (language learning aids from the Berkeley Language Center), the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (an exhaustive dictionary of the Latin language), the Barrington Atlas (the first comprehensive atlas of the Greek and Roman World, together with the continuing Ancient World Mapping Center), and the Bryn Mawr Classical Review (the world's second-oldest electronic academic journal). Access to these and many others is facilitated by excellent gateway sites such as Electronic Resources for Classicists and Classics and Mediterranean Archaeology. (A list of websites for classics resources also appears in the American Journal of Philology, 124.4).
L'Année philologique, a comprehensive annual bibliography of classical studies published since 1927, is a particularly striking example of the field's willingness and ability to adopt new technologies for scholarship. Since 2002, this essential research resource has been available by subscription on a web site that combines new volumes with older volumes put into digital form by another APA-sponsored project, the Database of Classical Bibliography. L'Année continues to appear in print, but an increasing number of volumes are now available online; a resource that until recently was available only in print, in separate annual volumes, in selected research libraries can now be searched via a single query by anyone with Internet access and a paid subscription.
In addition to their importance for research, many of the electronic resources mentioned above, and others like them, are helping to transform classroom teaching and individual study. At all levels from grade school to university, high-quality, up-to-date, and above all affordable study materials are now becoming easily accessible through the internet and in CD and DVD formats.
4. Scholarly Needs and Support
For individual scholars the research process involves acquiring or accessing traditional research materials, traveling to libraries, museums, sites and conferences, accessing electronic resources, and communicating with colleagues. These elements all have costs, although the costs are usually not large in comparison with those in many other academic fields. Equipment is not usually a major factor. For many classical scholars the most pressing need is simply for time –time to locate and access primary and secondary materials, to reflect upon and interpret these, and to prepare work for publication. In their academic careers most scholars must balance the demands of teaching (though this itself is often a stimulus to research) with the demands of research projects that require regular and extensive periods of concentrated study.
Funding is available at various levels. Individuals with low-cost projects may sometimes rely on funds and periodic research leaves offered by their own institutions. Larger funding is available competitively from national agencies such as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philosophical Society, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and from private foundations, among which the Guggenheim Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation give grants for distinguished work. The general scarcity of research funding in the humanities is a continuing concern, especially as governments and universities increasingly measure academic success by quantity of research output and so increase the pressure of competition for available funds. Additionally, compared to grants in the sciences, grants in classics are usually more modest in scale and duration.
Research in Classical Studies is characterized by its variety of approaches, range and depth of materials, and academic rigor; the relevant bibliography is often multi-lingual and spread over an unusually long time-span, so that even a relatively short publication may be based on extensive research, and may make a substantial contribution to knowledge and understanding. Ties between research and teaching are strong, and the boundaries of the discipline are expanding, thanks to new materials, technologies, methodologies, connections with other fields, and above all the initiative of its practitioners.
Last updated on January 29, 2013.