Reflections after a semester of lecturing

This past Friday I finished my first semester of lecturing. The day began with two hours of ‘The Emperor in the Late Roman World’, and in the afternoon an hour of revising Ovid, Metamorphoses 3 for Latin. These two courses constitute the bulk of the teaching I did this semester; I enjoyed all of it; it was fulfilling; it was also very busy.

I made sure to use this in class!

I made sure to use this in class!

‘The Emperor in the Late Roman World’ is a third-/fourth-year undergraduate course, and the only course the entirety of which I taught this semester (for the first two years of undergrad, Edinburgh likes team teaching). I greatly enjoyed it, discussing the emperors from Diocletian (284-305) to Justinian (527-565) and how the role and office of emperor changed over time, and the transformations the emperors wrought in the Later Roman Empire — and, of course, the Fall of the West. The main themes investigated, besides running through the history, were Christianisation, Ceremony, and Bureaucracy & Imperial Failures.

The students were engaged, interested, and invested. At least, those who came. By the end, only about 12 were turning up each Friday morning. The other eight will have to beg, borrow, or steal notes before the exam, I guess. Anyway, it was invigorating! I liked teaching this course to these students. I look forward to reading their essays.

I taught/read Ovid, Metamorphoses 3, to Latin 2A students over five weeks. This is the beginning of Ovid’s Theban cycle — Cadmus and the serpent, then the Spartoi, followed by Actaeon, leading to Semele and the birth of Dionysus, Tiresias, Echo and Narcissus, and closing with Pentheus and Bacchus. I enjoyed reading this, and I enjoyed reading it with the students. Their Latin is of a high calibre, and they are all very interested in Ovid. They seemed to enjoy Book 3 as much as I did, except for one fellow who dislikes the story of Echo and Narcissus. Along the way, I also delivered some lectures on Ovid and the Metamorphoses.

Only one came to the revision session. So she’ll have an edge over the others next week.

The rest of my teaching duties this term were a number of lectures as an outside lecturer on team-taught courses — a lecture on traditional Roman religion in the Republic; a lecture about rituals in Ancient Mediterranean Religions; a lecture/seminar on cities in the ‘long’ Late Antiquity; two lectures on chronicles in ancient historiography.

As I said, it has been busy. It has also been fulfilling. I enjoy the material that I teach, and I enjoy preparing lectures, even when I feel run ragged by the pressures of life.

Now we enter the season of marking: essays now (and more on Thursday), then exams next week.

And then in January, it begins again! ‘The Bishop and City of Rome in Late Antiquity’, ‘Crisis, Continuity, and Culture in the Fifth Century’, ‘Roman World 1B’, plus more outside lectures. It will be busy, I can count on it. But it will be fulfilling, worthwhile work. I look forward to it.

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