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6/30/2014

We are delighted to have contributions of all types from scholars, teachers, and students, and will fully credit them on the site. We always need help. If you would like to contribute in any way, please contact one of the senior editors. 

The following guidelines are directed at the authors of notes, who we expect will typically be college or university teachers with experience teaching and writing about the author they annotate. The creation of one of these multimedia editions is a large and collaborative endeavor, different in some (though not all) ways from the creation of a traditional print commentary. Proposals should include:

  • A curriculum vitae
  • An approximately ten-page sample of notes
  • A summary of the specific types of introductory matter envisioned, with bibliography
  • A summary of the specific types of multimedia enhancements envisioned, whether audio, video, maps, images, or something else, and how those might be created, or from what sources drawn. Images are particularly welcome, but must be annotated to make clear their relevance and relationship to the text. How will those annotations be created?
  • A statement of what collaborators, if any, the editor can bring on board to help complete the work. These might include students, colleagues, or web developers at the author’s institution, or elsewhere. Please note any grants for which you might apply to speed the work.

The style of notes:

Writers of notes are asked to use the Bryn Mawr Commentaries series as a guide. The purpose of the notes in DCC editions, as with the Bryn Mawr series, is to help readers read the text smoothly, with understanding and enjoyment. With this overarching goal in mind, the following general principles should be flexibly applied by authors and editors of notes for the series. Notes should be as short as possible, but no shorter, and should always deal with matters that impinge directly on the comprehension and enjoyment of the text but are likely to trouble or be missed by a non-specialist reader. 

I. Level: The texts are intended to be read by readers at any level. The same difficulties that stop a novice reader cold will probably also slow down a more experienced reader who is unfamiliar with a particular text. The notes should be suitable not only for novice or intermediate readers, but also for experienced readers who would like to move quickly to an understanding and appreciation of a text. It is best to think not so much in terms of level as of what kinds of difficulties hinder (to varying degrees) the comprehension and enjoyment of the text for any reader, and the kinds of interpretive comments and cultural and historical context that will enhance the reading experience for any reader. 

II. Grammar and language: Since the texts are accompanied by running vocabulary lists, it is assumed that glossing of individual words and the giving of full dictionary forms will in most cases not be necessary. The main categories of difficulty here are typically a) idiomatic phrases (those that do not make sense when translated literally); b) complex word order, where the syntactical connections between words may be for whatever reason less than clear to a first-time reader; and c) unusual grammatical constructions. There are essentially three options when trying to help a reader through these kinds of difficulty: literal translation, close paraphrase, and grammatical explanation. These can of course be used in combination, and with the citation of supporting parallel passages. Writers should choose the combination of these tools that most economically and specifically elucidates the sense and helps the reader to understand the original language. Avoid whenever possible

  • the paraphrasing or translating of large chunks, since this only obviates the necessity of understanding the original language; 
  • simply naming a grammatical construction when a judicious paraphrase or translation is also required; 
  • giving an un-translated parallel passage in place of the other types of elucidation; 
  • excessive use of parallel passages (always explain why a passage is parallel); 
  • the mere use of “cf.” 

Point out unusual constructions, and give a section reference to the standard grammars (Allen & Greenough or Smyth) that can be included as a hyperlink. Since hyperlinks are possible, there is no need to repeat grammatical explanations that can be found in the standard grammars.

III. Cultural, historical, and literary context: Obstacles to comprehension here typically include personal and geographical names, clear and important allusions to other texts, and customs and historical items that would have been familiar to the imagined audience of a text but are not familiar to non-specialists now. When explaining historical and cultural matters, endeavor to be brief. Explain only the aspects that directly impinge on the understanding and appreciation of the text at hand. A reference may be given to another text where further information can be found, and this can sometimes be included as a hyperlink. Literary comparanda, rather than simply listed, should if possible be tied to larger points made in the introductory matter, or to essays on individual poems or sections, if such essays have been written.

IV. Style and tone: It may be difficult for a first-time reader to perceive the tone of a statement or section, or to appreciate the stylistic features that make it unusual, interesting, or striking. Notes on these topics are important, but logically come after the elucidation of the sense, grammar, and cultural context. When possible they should support and complement comments on these topics made in the introductory matter and/or essays, if such have been written. Notes that observe tone, nuance, and implication are more valuable than notes that simply point out a namable stylistic feature. A note is not the place to propound a broader interpretation; rather, individual observations should when possible be made to support larger points made in the introduction or essays.

Authors and editors are urged to have a look at existing DCC editions for stylistic and formatting guidance, or to contact Chris Francese at francese@dickinson.edu.

Chris Francese, Marc Mastrangelo, and Meghan Reedy

Department of Classical Studies, Dickinson College