Three great luminaries… (or, ‘how I wrote the book’), Part III

VarroVerse, the second publication: Rome, movement, language, and Varro (2008-2011) ‘Movement and the Linguistic Turn: Reading Varro’s de Lingua Latina’. In Laurence, R. and Newsome, D. J. 2011 (eds.) Rome, Ostia, Pompeii: Movement and Space. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 57-80. Background Some might argue that I’ve written these blog posts out of sequence. I say, stories … Continue reading Three great luminaries… (or, ‘how I wrote the book’), Part III

Three great luminaries… (or, ‘how I wrote the book’), Part II

VarroVerse, the first publication: Cultural Memory and Varro (2009-2011) ‘“῾Ρωμαίζω… ergo sum”: becoming Roman in Varro’s de Lingua Latina’. In Bommas, M. (ed.) Cultural Memory and Identity in Ancient Societies. London: Continuum, pp. 43-60. Background In 2009, the Department took cultural memory* as a research theme, and I was invited to give a paper as part … Continue reading Three great luminaries… (or, ‘how I wrote the book’), Part II

Three great luminaries…(or, ‘how I wrote the book’), Part I

[M. Terentius Varro] Any discussion of the Roman Republic will sooner or later turn to figures such as Cicero and Julius Caesar, but this was an era of complex characters well equipped with great ambitions. It was also a time of intense creativity, and its volatile politics reflected a cultural upheaval that was as exciting … Continue reading Three great luminaries…(or, ‘how I wrote the book’), Part I

Diversitas et Multiculturalismus

Because this extensive and thoughtful piece says everything I’d say, but better.

Sphinx

This isn’t the Summer of Love; it may be the Summer of Bad-Tempered Arguments About Classics and Racism. Over in the US, Sarah Bond‘s articles on the ‘white-washing’ of classical statues – that is, why do we think of them in terms of gleaming white marble when they were actually painted? – have provoked a furious backlash from the far right, including death threats.* In the UK, an alt-right blogger objected to the fact that a BBC educational cartoon on life in Roman Britain included black people – “I mean, who cares about historical accuracy, right?” – and was carefully schooled by @MikeStuchbery_, Matthew Nicholls from Reading, Mary Beard and others – with the result that Mary, at least, now seems to be spending six hours a day responding to people on Twitter about this.

What is surprising about these two arguments is that the substantive issues – ancient…

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Shepherding thought (and a coda from Varro)

I love the frisson of terror that live theatre produces. For me, in the audience, it's as thrilling as a high-wire act to see people transformed by stepping into performance space, becoming something entirely other to their everyday selves. Will that transformation stick? Will I suspend or wallow in my disbelief? Will some element of the … Continue reading Shepherding thought (and a coda from Varro)

Talking In Our Time

I had a lot of fun guesting on the BBC Radio 4 show In Our Time, recently. I wrote up the experience for our students on the Liberal Arts and Sciences programme at Birmingham, but thought it actually sits comfortably here too 🙂

liberal arts blog

What academics mostly do is spin yarns. Sometimes these develop into technical tapestries, as hard to unpick as the punchline is (we hope) world-shaking. Much of the time, we are chipping away at the knowledge edifice, trying to make a difference. We receive no training in communicating research intelligibly outside the academy, yet making our research into stories that resonate as widely and powerfully as possible is as central to modern universities as it is to their faculty and students. Despite the rhetorics of ivory-towers and ivied quads, our world is no more (nor less) exclusive than any comparable trade. Ideas are our currency, and this means that we tend to speak to whoever will listen.

Some academics (micro-)blog, many of us teach and write books and papers, explain what we do to diverse audiences (including friends, or people at bus-stops…) and like everyone, we try to adapt our discourse…

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