And the Writing Begins…

Having finally compiled my research, I set off on the last leg of my summer project: actually writing my paper. By far the least anticipated section of my summer research (which was not exactly unexpected seeing as I started my summer with a trip to Italy), my paper writing has nonetheless produced some interesting results – beyond seven pages complete with 35 footnotes. Forcing myself to create an outline, I first worked to synthesize the research that I had compiled. When working on a paper, I generally have a prompt to focus on, given by a professor, with very specific guidelines and expectations. This time around, I was tasked with creating my own guidelines and working off my own prompt. To be honest, it was a strange mix of terror and liberation, knowing that I was making my own parameters.

The first interesting pitstop in my journey of paper-writing was structuring my research. Ancient quotes and Latin archaisms are only useful when you know what questions you’re trying to answer. Looking at the information I had gathered, I realized I had focused on how the Laudatio Turiae evidenced change, first in language and second in gender mores. This has essentially always been my aim, but I realized that I wanted to narrow concentration. The language change proved to be the more transparent write-up, although I found it particularly difficult to put into writing the technical linguistic evolutions that I had found. Moving on to the gender aspect of my research, I realized that there were many different routes that I could take. The time period of the LT was turbulent, and Roman women who had typically been relegated to wool working and home management were suddenly thrust into abnormally powerful and demanding roles. However, I kept returning to the description of Turia’s entanglement with her relatives over her father’s will. Included in that narrative were some salient details on the legal position of Turia’s parents’ and Turia’s sister’s marriages. These marital unions combined with Turia’s own union illustrate the archaic practice of cum manus marriage (in which a bride cedes all legal control and property to her husband), a sine manus marriage (in which a bride’s agnate family retains legal control and property), and a coemptio (in which a sine manus marriage is converted to a cum manus marriage). Using this as a basis, I answered my second question of how the LT represents gender change in a way that equated to the language change.

Armed with a detailed outline, I embarked upon the actual writing process, and quickly realized that I have never truly appreciated footnotes. Useful for much more than recording citations, footnotes seem to be the bread and butter of Classics’ articles (and I venture that of many other subjects). Beyond sources, footnotes are references to further arguments on a topic, directions to more extensive information, diversions on a topic related but perhaps more tangential than was appropriate for the actual body, and much, much more. It can be a tad intimidating to read a published article and realize that the footnotes take up more than 50% of a page. Moving through my paper, I realized that perhaps I am not at the level of noted Classicists’ footnotes, but beginning my practice now will only improve my writing and research in the future.

Comments

  1. sntrackenberg says:

    I loved hearing about your research this summer, both when you were in Italy and when you returned. Since your research was extremely writing and reading dependent, how did you balance the researching aspects of your paper with the writing? With such a broad topic I can imagine it would be extremely difficult to stop researching once you had a chance to delve into the literature. Was there any point at which you felt you had to stop researching new information and focus on what you had already read, or was this less of a challenge for you?