Each member of the seminar will lead a discussion on scholarly articles relevant to our Catullan readings:
The purpose of these discussions is for students to become better readers of Latin poetry with the help of scholarship, and to understand how that scholarship has evolved from the efforts of other scholars.
On the day of a discussion, everyone will come to class having read the piece in question. One student will be responsible for leading and facilitating discussion with the following guidelines in mind.
Length and format
Aim for a discussion that lasts about 15–20 minutes.
The discussion leader should NOT simply summarize what the author(s) has to say, as if giving a book report. Rather, they must attempt to generate an active discussion among peers by asking questions that elicit genuine interpretation of the scholarship at hand.
Interpretive questions focus on "why" or "how," rather than "what" or "who." Some examples:
NO: What does [Author(s)] say on p. 27?
YES: On p. 27 [Author] says such-and-such. How does this statement help us understand other Catullan poems we have read?
NO: What is a paraclausithyron?
YES: How does understanding the paraclausithyron enhance our understanding of this poem?
NO: What is [Author]'s conclusion?
YES: How does [Author]'s conclusion help us understand Catullus at large?
The "yes" questions take content for granted and prompt peers to comment on the author's content and (if absolutely necessary) methodology.
Another kind of interpretive question asks about something the discussion leader genuinely does not understand. Such a question circumvents the feeling that the leader is fishing for an answer, though it should be deployed judiciously.
The discussion leader should read the article well in advance, then prepare a series of judicious discussion questions.
The leader should not expect to generate questions from a single, cursory reading of their assigned piece. Rather, they must know their piece inside and out — not only findings and conclusions, but also methodologies and interpretive frameworks.
That said, the leader must allow the discussion to venture beyond the confines of the script — that is, to ask helpful questions on the fly. In fact, one should accept the fact that several questions might go unasked during the discussion.
Every discussion should begin with the leader stating, out loud, all of the piece's pertinent bibliographic information: the author, title, and other publication information.
If the piece is a journal article, the name of the journal should be given, as well as the volume and page numbers. If it is an essay in an edited volume, the name of the volume, the publisher, the names of the editors, the year, and the page numbers should all be given.
The leader should ask prepared questions in an orderly fashion, being ready (as noted above) for the conversation to take its own course. Avoid the temptation to answer your own questions, keep the discussion moving.
The leader should use the author's (or authors') last names whenever possible; phrases like, "they say" or "it says" (which are disrespectful to the scholar) should be avoided.