April 9, 2010

May the Fourth Be With Me

I have scheduled a dissertation defense for May 4th. Finally. After many, many emails about videoconferencing equipment, it turns out we'll just have a conference call for the two off-site committee members. And I've given my committee two weeks to get me comments in advance of the defense. Meaning, if they have any serious objections or concerns to raise, they should do it at least a week before I defend. The dissertation has gotten my advisor's blessing, but as this is a fairly interdisciplinary project, I'm still worried that I've majorly screwed something up on the classics end or the isotope chemistry end.

So now I have to work on my talk, which should be around 45 minutes in length and is open to the public. In spite of the fact that I have taught half a dozen college courses and therefore have given hundreds of 45-minute lectures, I'm still a bit terrified of giving a public talk. Maybe it's because I haven't decided what to talk about. What does the general (educated) public want to know about immigrants in the Roman Empire? I am pretty impressed with how I constructed the strontium isotope range of Rome in order to find immigrants, but no one wants to hear about aqueducts and geology and best-fit regression lines. I'm currently thinking about going with the diet angle, as it's the only thing I could find that was substantively different between the locals and the immigrants. Diet can help humanize and individualize the past, and I can actually tell what a person ate both as a kid and as an adult. But diet doesn't let me show the really cool palaeopathology pictures, which are always a hit with specialists and laymen alike. Hm.

What do you want to know about immigrants to Rome?

3 comments:

Patrick said...

I think you absolutely can talk about your geology model for Sr around Rome, if that's what you're proudest of. Entitle your talk "How I found immigrants among Roman skeletons" and talk about the chemistry, the geology, and the statistics. Maybe tell a couple of stories about specific immigrants.

You can work cool paleopath pictures in for eye candy in the introductory, "why this work matters" part of the talk.

John said...

My wife (BA Anth) and I (BA Socio Minor Anth) talked about it last night.

I am interested in the physical mobility within the empire and how much people really moved around at the time of your samples, so anything that tells you something about their Ethnicity, Religion and Geographic origins would be great.

I am also interested in how does your research address common pre-conceptions of the composition of Roman society derived from Movies and TV (what is their representation within the population).

My Wife is interested in whether these immigrants are setting up a life and staying or are they going where the money is (age of immigrants, families w/ children? or individuals).

Also any Push/Pull Factors that are indicated (Status, Social Class, Types of Jobs).

I think the layman wants to have a window into Roman Life at the time, so some insight of how people lived (I think about John Romer's Ancient Lives where he paints a compelling narative of the lifes of the Tomb Builders of Deir el-Medina, of course we have lots of written material there to work with)

John and Bev, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Anonymous said...

Personally, I am all about the osteology. The aqueducts and geology would also be interesting, as would some specific individuals' lives described in detail, i.e. diet, work, illnesses, where they were originally from, if they ever broke their arm, and other things like that to which laymen can relate. I know next to nothing about the defense of a dissertation; however, I do feel that at least a short description of the methods you used to gain the information about the lives of the immigrants(geology and such) should be included. I know I would find all of that interesting.

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