Over the course of my graduate education, I created and collected digital tools that are invaluable for both my teaching and research. I’ve listed some of those tools here for other academics, especially those working with classical texts.
Columbia University LaTeX Dissertation Template: I learned how to use LaTeX in undergraduate math classes, and I prefer it to Microsoft Word and other word processors. Since Columbia (and most universities) have specific requirements about the formatting of dissertations, I had to tweak my regular template to account for (e.g.) spacing in footnotes and numbering conventions. If you’re interested in using LaTeX to write your dissertation, you may find the template at the above link helpful.
“How to Write a Paper for Contemporary Civilization”: After two years of teaching Contemporary Civilization in the university’s Core Curriculum, I’ve found that students often share common difficulties in writing argumentative essays. Since I’m no longer teaching at Columbia, I decided to write up some advice that has proven helpful to my students in CC, many of whom were unsure of how to approach these assignments. Although I had CC in mind as I wrote this document, I imagine that my suggestions are applicable to courses in a wide range of humanities disciplines: certainly classics and philosophy, but even literature (for those of you in LitHum).
Linux Libertine Font: Writing papers for publication or even for classics coursework often involves typing unusual characters (for example, polytonic Greek), and some fonts render these characters improperly. I’ve found a number of fonts that both render Greek very well and also look nice generally. I often use Linux Libertine. Gentium is a solid alternative. So is Cardo.
Pandoc: In the second half of graduate school, I started to write more of my papers and teaching notes in .txt files. I find that Microsoft Word renders documents unreliably, and writing in a text file (especially if you store documents in a Dropbox folder) allows you to review your writing on your phone when you’re on the subway or walking down the street. To convert these plain text files to other document file types–such as HTML, .doc, PDF, and others–I use a very helpful and slick tool called Pandoc. It’s particularly useful if you use LaTeX, Markdown, or any other kind of mark-up language for your writing. If you’d like a more detailed look at how you might use plain text files for academic writing, check out Kieran Healy’s excellent write-up and his Plain Person’s Guide to Plain Text Social Science. I also wrote a brief tutorial about Pandoc on my own site.
Thesaurus Linguae Latinae: The TLL is an enormous lexicographical project that documents all attestations of every Latin word up to about 600 AD. The project is only up to the letter R, but if you’re interested in the history of a word in the first three quarters of the alphabet, this is a great place to start. De Gruyter hosts the digital database edition (which you can only access through an institutional subscription—check your library’s website for access), but there are open-access PDFs now available of all published volumes, not including the newest fascicles for N and R. The link above points to a collection of sites to help you understand the structure and methodology of TLL articles.
TLL Index: While at the TLL, I helped translate the website for the dictionary’s voluminous Index into English. The Index catalogs all the texts, authors, and editions cited in the TLL itself. Its abbreviations of Latin texts and authors provide helpful examples for unambiguously citing every work of Latin literature in the dictionary. As the Index advises, “It may be useful, therefore, to consult the Index even independently of the Thesaurus itself.” I’ve written a little more about using the index in a separate blog post.
Logeion: Some people at UChicago have put together this mega-dictionary site Logeion, and it’s much more useful than Perseus (at least I have found) for just looking up words. You get a range of dictionaries, not just LSJ and Lewis and Short, for your search queries. Nice website, too.
Brill Etymological Dictionaries: There’s a series of etymological dictionaries published by Brill, sometimes very helpful. You’ll need to get access through your library.
Chantraine’s Greek Etymological Dictionary: In French, but a great resource on Greek etymology even if your French is rusty (like mine).
Guide to an Apparatus Criticus This helpful document, compiled by Karl Maurer at the University of Dallas, shows the common symbols and Latin abbreviations you’ll find in the app crit at the bottom of scholarly editions of Greek or Latin texts (such as an OCT or Teubner edition). The document is quite comprehensive, and it should be useful even to students with very limited Latin.
Corpora and Other Digital Editions
Diogenes: Diogenes is a powerful tool for searching through corpora of classical texts. It does not come with the TLG or the PHI, but you can maybe find the data files from someone at your university. Ask around your classics department. It’s an enormously helpful tool for philological research: if you’re not using it, your research is suffering. Ask around in your department for tips and tricks.
PHI On-Line: You can access the PHI on-line if you cannot get a copy of the texts from your university.
Corpus Grammaticorum Latinorum: A handy database of texts by ancient grammarians. The site is not the most user-friendly, but the texts are indispensable.
Corpus Medicorum Graecorum / Latinorum: The Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften has made available complete scans of edited medical texts from both Greek and Latin authors. I often have trouble finding and navigating these volumes in the library, and the website here makes this complex material much easier to study.
Tesseract : If find a PDF either through Loebolus or HaithTrust or any other service that provides scanned books, you may want to look at Ryan Baumann’s Tesseract Latin OCR tool for making your own .txt editions. Sometimes works really well, sometimes has trouble with messy scans.
David Morgan’s Lexicum Anglum et Latinum: The late David Morgan, a real expert in Latin composition and modern Latin vocabulary, assembled this amazing resource of contemporary language rendered into Latin. It provides a lot of sources and renderings from other contemporary Latin dictionaries. An amazing resource for turning modern English into Latin.
Smith’s English-Latin Dictionary: A bit dated, but a very comprehensive dictionary of Latin equivalents for English words and phrases. Smith’s has a great deal of classical examples, too, so you can look back to idioms and contexts easily. It’s worth picking up in hard copy, too.