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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Prequel / a tiny Grand Tour

Journeys to “Rome” (what and where and whose is Rome?) more than to any other city are characterised by a remarkable depth and intensity in their narrative dimension. Although the printing press made dissemination of itineraries possible, and the survival of a sample at least suggests their popularity, guidebooks to Rome were far from a pop-cultural … Continue reading Prequel / a tiny Grand Tour

Ovid’s Garden: Digging!

Miriam’s amazing “Ovid’s Garden” project, located at Winterbourne House & Gardens (University of Birmingham) represents a laboratory space for her PhD on Classical echoes in Italian Renaissance gardens, and also an imaginative way for enthusiasts to help shape a cutting-edge research project here in Brum.

Brava, Miriam!

naso's song

On a cold and wet day in November, a group of volunteers from the Classics & Ancient History department at the University of Birmingham and staff from Winterbourne House & Gardens braved the elements to begin work on Ovid’s Garden! We had the muddy task of lifting the turf from the site and digging the main path in front of the garden to make way for the hard landscaping elements.Blog MontageFuelled by some excellent cake and brownies, we lifted all the turf by midday and by the afternoon the site was completely cleared. Whilst digging the main path, we even unearthed some exciting finds, excavating clay pipes and pieces of pottery, identified by our resident archaeologist Meagan Mangum, which will be displayed at Winterbourne for visitors to see!ExcavatingNow the turf and the main pathway have been dug, the beds have been marked out and the remaining paths around these will need to be dug out as well. After this, edging…

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Classicising modernity

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a provocative and thoughtful discussion of the relationship between classical Greek tragedy and the development fascism in Italy, Germany, and Greece. The speaker was my wonderful colleague Eleftheria Ioannidou, and the occasion, our fortnightly Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology research seminar (all are welcome!). The full title of the paper … Continue reading Classicising modernity

Echoes of Garibaldi

As the centenary of Ireland's Easter 1916 Rising approaches, no doubt with all sorts of moving, surprising, challenging, thought-provoking events encouraging reflexion on a century's accretion of meaning, as so often, my thoughts return to Rome. I like to think that Rome's ever-presence in my frame of reference is charming. It certainly draws on my … Continue reading Echoes of Garibaldi