April 19, 2010

Designing Immigrants

I'm pretty sure I have to make a poster announcing my defense talk on May 4. In spite of the fact that I've seen fliers for talks all over the department for the last seven years, I'm not entirely sure what to put on it. Here are the two options I cooked up in the last half hour.

First is a poster with a small centered graphic depicting Rome on the Peutinger Map. The idea is to evoke the concept of all roads leading to Rome (and thus immigrants flowing into Rome). This poster is relatively uncluttered - the title, author, date/place/time are clearly visible. I'm not sure the graphic translates very well to black-and-white or to being printed. (Click to enlarge - ignore the artifacts from doc-pdf-jpg conversion.)
Second is a poster with a full-page watermark-style graphic of a skeleton from one of the sites I studied. This poster actually looks quite striking when printed. I have it tacked up on the wall across the room, and at one glance, I can clearly see the skeleton. I might have to work on the dark blob in the upper left-hand corner, as I think it obscures the talk title a bit. But this is a poster that I would stop and read if passing in the hall. Then again, I stop and read anything with a skeleton on it, so I'm biased. (Click to enlarge - ignore the jpg artifacts.)
Opinions? Suggestions? Ideas?

Update #1 - Following a suggestion to make the graphic a sidebar (which is actually where it is on the cover slide of my talk)... I do always love a good watermark, but this version makes the text clearer. However, I'm worried that the skeleton image is less organic, like it's there just to titillate people.

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?

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