After slogging away pretty much constantly for the past week, I’ve finally finished the two essays which together form a third of the mark for my MA. I’m fairly happy with both of them, more so with the Demes and Democracy one as I’ve had more time to research that area but the Later Roman Army essay has also turned out quite well. My main worry is whether I’ve referenced enough material and in the right way—there are no hard and fast rules here so I won’t really get much of an idea until I get the marked essay returned to me, at which point it’s too late to make any changes! However, I do have ideas for expanding the essays beyond their current scope (I could have easily doubled the Greek one in length if I’d had more time available and no word limit) and, depending on the feedback I get, I might see about trying to get them published somewhere.
If nothing else, writing the essays has taught me how to use LaTeX effectively, and how much hassle it can take away once you have the environment set up properly. Not only does it store all my references in a single bibliography file (so if I refer to a particular piece of work in two different essays I don’t need to copy the reference twice), but it automatically formats all of my references to whatever style I request (Harvard style in this case, as apparently that’s what is recommended in the humanities), so I don’t need to waste time checking to see that I’ve put the author and the year in the right places. Unfortunately LaTeX doesn’t support Unicode properly (at least not last time I checked), but I’ve managed to set up a template that correctly renders polytonic Greek, which is all I really need at the moment.
I’m also impressed by how material I’ve worked through in the last nine months, and the extent to which my knowledge of the ancient world (admittedly very specific parts of it) has increased. I’ve gone from having a high school awareness of the subject to writing material good enough to present at postgraduate conferences in an extremely short space of time, which I think is pretty cool.
Anyway, I have to start revising for my two Latin exams now – no rest for the wicked!