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Hestia BU @Hestia_BU
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Welcome to this week's live tweet! Today, we revisit our articles from last week (thread here: ) This week, we have special guest faculty member Professor James Uden. @i_nurmi opens the discussion by returning to a critical question: why Latin and Greek?
Though last week's discussion was fruitful and evocative, @i_nurmi points out that we skirted around and didn't really arrive at the ultimate question of why these classes are important, and how we convince our students these are important.
A big problem here is the perception of Latin as a "prestige language." A cohort mentions a panel at CANE last year with pushback against Latin as ID'd as "prestige Latin"; one panel speaker gave e.g. of students finding value in the language *because* of this identity...
...and felt more comfortable taking the courses because they thought it had more social capital; the ID of a "prestige language" can give its students more self-confidence. @i_nurmi sees tradition of "conquering Latin" as leaving people w/ social advantages; the other side...
...of course is the exclusionary aspect of this ID that can damage students who might not succeed right away, or might shy away from Latin (& Greek) because of its difficulty. @ala_Camillae when we say it's a prestige language, it has baggage of associations w/ white supremacy.
@ala_Camillae elevating the diversity of the Classics, even and especially in the content of the texts themselves, will improve our relationship w/ teaching them and our students' relationships with learning them.
Prof Uden addresses the "why Latin" by returning to the favor of language requirements, and the fact that Latin has no speaking--for some students, who may dread the idea of conversing in a foreign language, this aspect can be very attractive!
Uden: Latin and Greek are languages you can do "on the page", making them less intimidating for many students. @ala_Camillae when asking students "why Latin," many students said "so I didn't have to speak a language."
@i_nurmi last week we arrived at the point that learning Latin can help with Rhetoric later on in classes; says we don't need to wait until later on--in learning building blocks of sentences we can be ultra-conscious of word choice, and emphasize the importance of doing that... matter where you are w/r/t your proficiency in any language. The ID of "prestige language" adds to this, because it demonstrates/lends credibility to students the deliberate intention behind each and every word choice. Translation comparison can help with this, too.
Cohort: exploring the different ways in which Latin conveys the same thought can also help us bring Rhetoric in even at early language stages. When word order doesn't matter, the choices you make define emphasis and nuance. Students can see that easier early on in Latin...
...than they might be able to in non-inflected languages. @ala_Camillae discusses teaching intmdt. prose--when students have difficulties w/ a text/author's style, she finds students kind of intuit those choices already, and it makes the translation more interesting...
...even if it is more challenging. You can turn translation into a "teachable moment" by talking about not just *what* the language is doing when authors/texts make those choices, but *why* those specific language techniques might be there.
w/r/t CI/spoken Latin, appeal may come in bringing a "dead" language "to life." Uden says the idea of a "dead" language has never been a problem--that's actually been its appeal: talking to ghosts, reviving something, locking yourself into a bigger past that doesn't exist anymore
Uden: mission w/ language courses is to sharpen students' ability to empathize and imagine what it might have been like in ancient Rome; a different way that Latin and Greek are helpful and exciting in unique ways compared to modern languages.
@ala_Camillae when it comes to CI, feels comfortable applying it as far as it might make Latin more accessible, more learnable--but maybe not trying to make Latin a modern, "living" language
@mercury_witch part of the problem with relating to texts only on a page is that the thrill of learning a language is being able to read texts you love in their native tongue; shares an experience of actually hearing a prof. recite Cassandra's speech from /Clytemnaestra/;...
...hearing that Greek out loud was the moment @mercury_witch decided she wanted to learn ancient Greek for herself, felt the weight and power of that language in person.
However, the idea of reciting ancient languages out loud might make some students balk, as pointed out by @ala_Camillae; recitation seems like a pretty intimidating, potentially not-at-all fun practice, especially for students who might like that Latin/Greek is all written down.
Cohort: CI isn't limited only to speaking the language; nor does it have much to do w/ students themselves speaking (which has more to do with output than input). But being able to read out loud can help a LOT with comprehension of language, incl. hearing YOU read it aloud.
Hearing the language can help develop a narrative voice, and can help with "chunking" a narrative in ways they might not have the "ear" to do when reading it on a page.
Plus, students do hear Latin around them--see #SabrinaOnNetflix or any other show that uses Latin when it wants to convey magical incantations @i_nurmi
The imaginative element is a huge boon to learning ancient languages that modern languages don't always encourage. @rympasco the classics can act as a "mirror"/opportunity to study your own world view and the ways in which your views are (to an extent) culturally predetermined.
Trying to demonstrate to your students the power that Classical languages have of teaching you about yourself is vital. @rympasco
The things that were appealing to *you* as a young Classicist are probably appealing to others. @ala_Camillae it's unfortunate that modern languages *aren't* crafted in some of the ways ancient languages are. Are we already doing CI and not realizing it?
There is a difference across the board in how languages are taught in high school vs. at a college/university. Latin/Greek textbooks don't always have a lot of culture in them, so it depends on who's instructing to a great degree.
@i_nurmi agrees that ancient languages hold strength in intertwining culture and language--but is that because "western identity" is so heavily based on the notion of Latin and Rome being its foundation? Is that a problem?
Cohort: implicit in that question are we not verging towards the dangerous assumption that non-western students who take the classics don't see themselves in that culture? Cohort: all languages have cultural baggage, but you can divorce languages from their culture to teach them
@mercury_witch a lot of our students will bring associations of these languages with them to the classroom, and teaching cultural elements with the language could potentially unwittingly strengthen presuppositions students have--how do others view this? How to address it?
(specifically, the idea of the Classics as the foundation of Western Identity, and the socio-cultural baggage of that phrase)
@ala_Camillae when framing a language course, if you teach it as a language or something else, you bore your students and don't capture the culture that existed--if your students will just learn a language and leave, what are they coming away with?
@ala_Camillae you can make a text more accessible to students by discussing cultural elements, and while doing that, you can point to cultural biases throughout the text and discuss those issues with your students.
@rympasco a lot of students may only have substantive exposure to the ancient world through taking ancient languages, and will be "bombarded" with appropriations of the classics for sometimes nefarious purposes.Students come to the classroom w/ those associations, whether...
...because it's been built into their perspective or not; we do have a responsibility to reframe the ancient world for them, make sure they don't leave with those same assumptions/misunderstandings. We aren't doing our job if we don't address this. @rympasco
@rympasco textbooks that *don't* focus on cultural elements alongside teaching a language leave a big gap here that can lead to fundamental misunderstandings/misappropriations of classical culture. It's not "get out of my classroom," but rather stressing...
...diversity in the text and making students aware so that they have the tools to think critically when they come across misappropriation of the Classics in the real world.
@mercury_witch some of the fun of learning ancient languages is discovering that they ARE still everywhere--so many of the words we use every day and look at are made of ancient words, and showing that to students can be a fun, accessible way of seeing these languages as alive.
Uden: one thing we all can do is model a passionate engagement with our subject matter for our students--that's something that we have; we are only in Classics presumably because we love the material.
Uden: students may take lots of practical classes with professors/instructors who don't necessarily "love" their subject matter; students constantly write reviews commenting on instructor's passion and engagement with the material, and it's clearly unique and memorable to them.
Uden: w/r/t allowing your students to express their opinions on a text/author when guiding discussion, the narrower the question, the more likely you are to get a response from your students; start narrow, and then move outward to broader questions.
Uden: expressing your thoughts on an author can always be a great part of demonstrating your passion for Classics and help engage your students, but your students probably see you as more authoritative than you realize; you could influence their feelings w/ your passion.
Uden: don't expect your students to counter you, because they are unlikely to--especially at a big school, especially in intro courses. Students can be very wary of disagreeing with professors, even if you don't see yourself as intimidating.
Cohort: sometimes you *do* need to explicitly outline the context of certain things--e.g. when reading invective, you need to explain persona theory, explain who is telling the story. That might not change whether your students hate it or not, though!
@i_nurmi we are OUT OF TIME, but in a few weeks we will have another guest speaker coming in, @dreadfulprof, discussing very similar topics--so stay tuned. #teachancient
Thank you as always for following this week's live tweet, and a special thanks to Professor James Uden for joining us today. This tweet was brought to you by @mercury_witch. See you soon! #teachancient #langchat
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