Friday, 23 March 2018

End of Term

The term is nearly over, and I for one will be relieved once it's over.  If I've learned anything from the past seven months or so, it's that I should have applied for parental leave.  I'm not really sure how I managed what I managed when there was just the one kid, let alone no kids.  The flip side is they're wonderful, and I couldn't imagine life without them.  I also love their company.  My eldest daughter, Ella, even likes coming to my office - she's come occasionally. A complicating factor has been this southern Manitoba winter.  The cold has been relentless this year, and my wife and I have found this to be the most challenging of them all (this is my ninth), bar none. 

I'd hoped I'd be able to churn out a few posts during my return trip to Jordan, even while I was there, but each of those days proved to be long and exhausting.  I've thought about posting about book reviews and my language failings.  My second book revealed something of a language inadequacy, which is only apparent to those in the field (those in other disciplines, where there is only one language, don't have this issue).  I've thought about the ongoing research project/s, which have stalled to no small measure.  There was the one sentence, basically, peer review of a journal submission of mine (unprofessional to no end - and downright wrong in its estimation).

My frustration in how long it takes things to get out there, and how few actually read it, was reflected in two of my last posts.  I'm also terrified that what I said didn't come out in the way that I intended (a problem I've often had - it makes sense to me, but not to others).  My point had largely been that I'd wished I'd managed to get things out there more quickly than I did.  Along those lines, I'm wondering if I've spent too much time on book chapters at the expense of journal articles, which can sometimes/often have a much greater research, at least with some journals.  I have a few drafts that I aim to send out at some point, though I'm not sure when.

I'll add that I've had many serious doubts about whether I should continue in this line of work.  There have been more than a few times when I've scoured the wanted ads for jobs in other parts of country, especially Ottawa, though also Halifax and Hamilton.  I've managed to find my houses I'd move to...just not the jobs to support the move.  Quite often, the only thing, to my mind, that seems to have come of this job is my wife and my children - and my dog.  A really good lecture, seminar or chat with a student can still immensely satisfying.  I enjoy reviewing things (as editor or peer reviewer).  And much of the subject matter is still fascinating.  But, I still feel a great deal of dissatisfaction. 

Anyway, the point of all that is, I haven't had a chance to post anything. But there has been some progress.  One of the courses I'm teaching is a completely revamped "Roman Army".  I've added quite a lot of material, and I think I've included more interesting stuff.  Whether the students have thought this I'm not sure.  In fact, I don't think it's been quite as successful as I'd hoped, though I have ideas on how to fix this.  Some of it is down to my pitching of the material at what might be too high a level.  All the work has put me in great shape for finishing the textbook, and it's been great to finally devote some attention to at least a portion of it, especially the commemoration and mourning of Roman soldiers.  Van Lommel's perceptive articles on wounded soldiers and veterans has convinced me of a Roman awareness of war trauma, and that it had a measured impact.  I've delved more deeply into treatment too - and been fascinated by what little I've read about medical care.

I've also been taken on by all the wonderful work (Hope, for example) on inscriptions, especially those with surviving sculptural decorations.  I hadn't appreciated just how many of these we have (750 or maybe many more), and what wonderful things we find in them.  For the first time I've looked at clothing, and a little more on weaponry.  There really are a great deal of sword-types.  It's quite something.  

The archaeology of war continues to fascinate me, even thought I'm no archaeologist.  I've also spent a good amount of time on the mechanics of battle, surprisingly, you'd think, a topic I'd not considered for some time, and it seems not in the appropriate depth (or not in such a way that I'd remember what I've read).  I'm much more comfortable with the nuances of light and heavy soldiers, with the light referring to their formation in battle (looser) as does the heavy (more densely packed).  I'd been all too aware of the ancient historians' silence (relative) on what happens when the two sides do come to blows, but as I say I'd forgotten about many of the reconstructions.  I plan to tweak a textbook (Gibbs and Nikolic, heading for a second edition) so that it incorporates some of this stuff, the battle mechanics and the war trauma, even if ever so slightly. 

I've been doing some work on Ammianus, and I'll be giving a conference paper on Cannae, the former slightly, the latter certainly, outside my specific areas of expertise.  Doing new and different stuff does keep me going.  I also have some more thinking to do about this late antique eastern frontier solider project, which is evolving.  And there's the Procopius follow-up.  The other day is was thinking more about how I could incorporate the wonderful Perge edict into my discussion of troops and numbers in Procopius.  I hope to do a bit more on this today.  I'll be spending a lot of time on buses, so I'll have time.

So there we go, a disjointed post on a tangentially related group of topics.  Guess it reflects well where my mind is at the moment. Till next time - and probably more before too long as I get to work on some of these projects.

No comments:

Post a Comment