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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Evaluating Europe — the Second Years’ Brussels trip

Although Rome will always be the beating heart of my Europe, a working trip to Brussels was illuminating and I wrote up the adventure for the Liberal Arts and Sciences blog…

liberal arts blog

One of the perks of my role as Dean is that I was in a position to develop and participate in our new annual trip for second year Liberal Arts and Sciences students, taking the group to the heart of Europe: Brussels. This built on their first and second year core modules, studying the nature of modernity and crises facing humanity, and helped us all as a group to think hard about recent and forthcoming flash-points relating to European and UK politics.

We are fortunate at the University of Birmingham to have close research and development ties with continental Europe, and the University has an office in Brussels giving us a base for engaging with policy developments across the Union. To get our second years in the mood, the big questions we posed for the trip were:

  • When you hear “Brussels”, what does it represent? Does this change over the course of…

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no laughing matter

More from Tantalus’ storeroom and Rachel’s excellent food/life blog dropped into my inbox this week (reblogging below).

I’m as interested in turnips as Columella was in cabbages, which is saying something. I’d been hoarding a couple for a mid-week cooking treat when what popped up but Rachel’s excellent bouquet of turnipery.

Swedes are another thing entirely, fit only for the trough. But as a beetroot risotto obsessive I’m now speculating that I might want to add a new entry to my turnip-roster 🙂

rachel eats

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Oh dear‘ said a friend when I told her I’d been asked to write about turnips. ‘Does anybody actually like them?’ I was about to say I do, but she was off on a beetroot and radish tangent before changing the subject entirely, so I just nodded. Afterwards it crossed my mind she was probably referring to the early winter variety, stout, purple-tinged turnips which, if left too long, can become stringy and harsh, which is where the ridicule comes in I suppose. ‘What is the difference between turnip and snot, children will eat snot‘ was the joke the naughtiest boy in the class told us in the playground. We rolled about laughing until our seven-year-old sides hurt. The giggles were carried into the school dining room, where waterlogged turnips mashed with carrots and cheap margarine were shunted around our plates.

Catch them…

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