Friday, June 03, 2016

Retrospections

Congratulations to Katherine McDonald, whose always interesting blog has just passed its first birthday. Katherine’s description of the benefits of blogging (interesting things happen! new ideas! feedback! it’s enjoyable!) got me thinking about the blog I used to write.

Tria Corda will turn 11 years old in a few months, but it’s far from being a continuous operation. It was born in autumn of 2005, following my graduation from Penn with a B.A. in Classical Studies and my embarking on an overseas adventure, beginning in Italy but with aspirations to end up in Turkey teaching English. I began, “I’m in the midst of some downtime between my summer employment and the first two weeks of the rest of my life, so I thought I'd start a blog,” but I set expectations low: “Sporadic Italic blogging is all that can be expected.” At the time, I was enamored of what I called the “grey area” of ancient Italy, the non-Roman non-Greek (and sometimes non-Etruscan) blob in the center of the peninsula.

With high spirits I updated a few times a month that August to December in Italy, excavating, traveling, visiting museums, shepherding, and picking olives (I never did make it to Turkey that go round). The pace dropped off rapidly after returning to the States in December 2005, studying German, and taking up a job with David Romano at the Archaeological Mapping Lab (in those days still the Corinth Computer Project, and still at the Penn Museum). I wrote only three posts in 2006, two of them really the tail end of the 2005 season, and one in early December as on update on work. If I wasn’t traveling, I didn’t have as much to say, and I imagine the job kept me busy enough.

Another year went by, until December 2007, when, I wrote, “The recent construction of the Ancient World Bloggers Group in a day has spurred (or rather goaded, in this pre-spur age) me into thinking about a return to blogging.” The first post was a schedule of papers dealing with Italic matters, as I understood them, at the 2008 AIA/APA joint annual meeting in Chicago. This marked the start of a relative flurry of posts during 2008, mostly collating news of discoveries or conferences having to do with pre-Roman Italy (the excavation of Byzantine tombs merited notice because they were found in Molise, where I’d worked). Sometimes I attempted to contextualize a bit; others were bare notices. I also occasionally commented, naively and needlessly pugnaciously, on some of the AIA papers I'd seen.

One of the two posts of 2007 was rather important, however, in signalling a change in my engagement with digital classics. At the end of December 2007 I noted that I’d joined the photo-sharing site flickr; my first uploads were mainly of photos from Italy in 2005, and skewed heavily toward the related subjects of epigraphy and spolia. Since then, although my use of Tria Corda dwindled and then ceased, I have been continually posting photos on flickr, with a much wider range of subjects. (I don’t have an editorial policy, as it were, but I’ve thought about it from time to time).

In 2009 I continued at a similar pace, but began posting more news of Italian archaeology generally, not just the pre-Roman period, especially when it hadn’t yet hit the Anglophone news. In September of that year, I started grad school, and noted “I'm more or less settled in here at Michigan; now that I've got enough work to need distracting from, blogging will continue...” The pace of posts fell off in 2010 and 2011, as course work and exams took up more of my time, and writing began to feel more like a chore. 2012 saw a slight uptick in posts, before a sudden cessation in July, initiating a silence that hasn’t been broken since (aside from a gratuitous Genucilia photo). 

In September of 2012 I began a year as a regular member of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Besides having very little time for blogging and living very much present in the moment, I felt like a lapsed Italianist. Over the past few years, I’d developed a strong interest in the Greek Early Iron Age, which grew out of fieldwork at Mt. Lykaion and a couple of seminars at Michigan my first year there. My potential dissertation topics had very little or nothing to do with matters Italic. I was still very interested in Italy, but it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind.
And, in the meantime, the way that people got their news underwent several changes. Feed-readers came (and went), and the facebook feed (and/or twitter feed) became a primary medium for news—at the news came in ever larger volumes. Blogs didn’t disappear, but they were no longer the prima acies of the Classical internet (See, for example, Sebastian Heath’s last post, or Tom Goskar on Past Past Thinking). Some blogs did disappear, of course; of the 35 listed on Tria Corda’s blogroll, some 10 are either dead links or haven’t had new posts in several years.

Now I’ve become an Italianist again, though not so much an Italicist proper, as I’m working on a dissertation treating the Republican phases of the Roman sanctuary of Fortuna and Mater Matuta in Rome’s Forum Boarium.

So much by way of bringing things up to speed (I could go into more detail, but I suspect it would be purely for my own, questionable, benefit); in the next post—which I intend to write before another four years have gone by—I’ll mull over possible future directions. 

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