VarroVerse, the third publication: Varro, and the Red Queen problem... (2010-2015) ‘Urban flux: Varro’s Rome-in-progress’, in The Moving City: Processions, Passages and Promenades in Ancient Rome. In Östenberg, I., Malmberg, S., and Bjørnebye, J. 2015 (eds.). London: Bloomsbury, pp. 99-110. Background In 2010 I received an intriguingly well-timed invitation from Ida Östenberg, Simon Malmberg, and … Continue reading Three great luminaries… (or, ‘how I wrote the book’), Part IV
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
[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
Because this extensive and thoughtful piece says everything I’d say, but better.
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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Twelve students, three academics, and over two millennia of art, literature, architecture. Our Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences Rome trip 2016!
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 🙂
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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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…
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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