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CL 310 : Semester project
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Metamorphosing the Metamorphoses!

The CL 310 semester project will require students to research Ovid's influence on the modern imagination. Successful projects will explore how an episode of the Metamorphoses has been transformed by later authors or artists. The final outcome will be a paper of around 4000 words (12–15 pages); capstone papers should add an additional 1000–1500 words (at least three additional pages).

To begin, select a myth not covered by our regular in-class readings. Peruse a translation of the Metamorphoses to find a story that captures your interest. Or reverse-engineer your selection by checking the index of a translation to see whether Ovid has covered your favorite myth.

Regardless of how you choose, your myth should be both substantial (around 100 lines, minimum) and rather focused (with as few Ovidian digressions as possible). These requirements will probably ensure a sufficient quantity of scholarship on your myth and a healthy afterlife in the tradition after Ovid.

Once you've chosen your episode, explore post-Ovidian versions of the myth. Most helpful: The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300-1990s (ed. Reid, on open reserve in Scribner Library). The Guide discusses the ancient sources, Ovid usually among them, before moving on to important versions in more recent centuries.

Use the Guide and other resources to select between one and three post-Ovidian versions of your myth to discuss in your paper. These variants may be in any medium: text, visual arts, dance, drama, music, film. The choice is yours, subject to availability and your own areas of interest or expertise.

Choose one post-Ovidian version if that version seems substantial enough to hold its own against Ovid's original. Choose more than one if they are briefer or otherwise less substantial; or if you are interested in how different authors or artists have changed only a few aspects of Ovid's myth.


Over the course of the semester you will research both Ovid's myth and its later version(s), compiling two bibliographies along the way.

(1) The first will be a formatted list of secondary sources that seem pertinent: articles, essays, and book chapters. You need not have read them all, and you will whittle down the list in preparation for the second bibliography.

(2) The second bibliography will be annotated. It will not only carry over many entries from the first bibliography, but also offer comprehensive notes on each. The notes must consist of two paragraphs: one summarizing the secondary source's main ideas, another offering your reaction — how it informs your view of the primary sources.

A source might address Ovid's original myth, or focus on later variants, or do something in between. Regardless, it practically goes without saying that the annotated bibliography should discuss only those sources that have proven useful to you.


The successful paper will be grounded in both modernity and antiquity, doing justice to both Ovid's myth and the later version(s). It will be informed by our reading of the Metamorphoses this semester, and it will also build upon the relevant scholarship.

There are many directions your paper could take. Here are some questions to help you focus your research.

What do we know of the tradition before Ovid? What changes did the poet make to the myth, its story or its themes, when adding it to the Metamorphoses? How do you account for these changes?

What has changed in later versions? What has remained the same? If there are changes, does the author or artist seem to have invented them on their own, or do they come from an intermediary tradition? Can any of the changes be explained by differences in genre or medium?

How would you situate later versions in the context of their times? Were their authors or artists part of a movement? What social or political issues were they addressing?

What impact have the later versions had on the tradition? Should they be considered variations on Ovid? Or do they supercede Ovid, just as the poet superceded his own models?

You need not answer all of these questions in your paper, but you should reflect on them as you proceed.


These milestones will help keep the project on track. Please note due dates carefully. Work may be turned in in person or submitted as attachments via email.

GENERAL FORMATTING: All submitted work must

(1) contain the author's name, the course title (CL 310: Ovid's Metamorphoses), the date of submission, and the milestone title at the top of the first page (no need for a separate title page);

(2) be typed and double-spaced, have numbered pages and 1.25-inch margins, use a standard 12-point font, and have immaculate spelling and grammar; and

(3) be in Adobe PDF format (no MS Word documents, please).

Work that does not conform to these requirements will be penalized.

Thursday, January 25

An in-class review of the project guidelines. This is your chance to ask the big questions before getting started.

Week of February 6

Prof. Curley will circulate a sign-up sheet for a 90-minute session outside class on finding and utilizing classical bibligraphy. This session will be required for those new to our 300-level poetry seminars and recommended (but optional) for veterans.

Saturday, February 7, 11:00 p.m.

At least 350 words declaring which myth from the Metamorphoses you have chosen (book and line numbers) and which later version(s) you want to investigate (including author, genre, and date). Provide a rationale for your choices. This should be the outcome of some thoughtful preliminary work.

Remember, the Ovidian original must be outside our in-class readings, a minimum of about 100 verses, and fairly straightforward in its presentation.

Please observe the general formatting requirements (above).

Saturday, March 3, 11:00 p.m.

A list of 15–20 secondary sources, listed in a standard bibliographic format, that seem helpful to understanding the themes and critical issues of your myth, its successor(s) or both.

See the guidelines for bibliographies and please observe the general formatting requirements (both above).

Saturday, March 31, 11:00 p.m.

A list of at least 10 secondary sources, listed in a standard bibliographic format, that have proven helpful to understanding your myth, its successor(s) or both.

Each entry must be accompanied by two paragraphs of annotations:

(1) a summary of the source, its main idea or ideas; and

(2) your reaction in light of how your project is developing — how the secondary source has informed your view of the primary sources.

See the guidelines for bibliographies and please observe the general formatting requirements (both above).

Saturday, April 14, 11:00 p.m.

The rough draft should, at this early stage, represent 50–60% of your final paper. Many matters pertaining to structure and content should be settled, if not reasonably well developed. Gaps are acceptable, provided there are cogent summaries of what is missing.

Include an unnanotated version of your annotated bibliography (including any new sources located between now and March 28), and use footnotes or in-line citations to refer to your sources (see under "Final paper," below).

Please observe the general formatting requirements (above).

Week of April 16

Having read your rough drafts, Prof. Curley will meet with you for about 30 minutes to discuss the direction of your paper and to offer advice on the next milestone, the in-class presentations.

A sign-up sheet will be sent around in class on April 10.

Thursday, April 26 and Tuesday, May 1

In one of our last two classes you will give a 20–minute presentation of your research as it currently stands. Your presentation must include the following:

Narrative. Narrate for your peers the critical issues of your topic, how you approached them, and what you have learned along the way. It will be important for your peers to understand your primary sources, but you should avoid needless plot summary. Note that your peers will have read your Ovidian myth in advance of your presentation.

Handout. The handout should have three distinct parts:

(1) Representations of your post-Ovidian versions. If a text, quote appropriate passages if not the entire thing; if a work of visual art, then provide an appropriate selection of images. (If you have chosen something performative, discuss your options with Professor Curley beforehand.)

(2) A severely abbreviated version of your talking points, a handful of key concepts that your narrative will convey.

(3) An up-to-date copy of your unannotated bibliography. Your narrative should make references to the bibliography, although you should avoid giving a full summary of any one source.

Practice your presentation to make sure that it lasts no longer than 20 minutes. Presentations that run over will be cut off without mercy. Following your presentation will be time for questions or comments from your peers.


  • Thursday, April 26: Cail, Heath, Taylor
  • Tuesday, May 1: Gross, Miller, Smith

Tuesday, May 8, 11:00 p.m.

Your final paper should be around 4000 words in length (5000–5500 words for capstones).

Employ footnotes or endnotes (one or the other) only when in-line citations are impractical or to address issues in the main body of the paper that need further explanation, clarification, or support. Follow the helpful guidelines for in-line citing in the Skidmore Guide to Writing.

The paper should be free of careless mistakes in spelling and usage. It should read like the product of several months' work, not several hours'.

Please observe the general formatting requirements (above).


Research Papers for Classics. General practices for the research process, from thesis to bibliography to final draft.

Classics Research Guide (Scribner Library). Specific guidelines and resources for undergraduate Classics research.

CL 310 Course Reserves (Scribner Library).

Searchable index of journals (Scribner Library).

ConnectNY and ILLiad (Scribner Library). NOTE: No student requests will be processed two weeks before the exam period.

The Skidmore Guide to Writing. More trustworthy advice, especially on matters of grammar and formatting.

See our general Resources Page for other research tools.

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