The literary expression of self-entwined-with-environment that courses through classical texts shows that every action seeds the possibility for perspectival change, and offers the opportunity radically to transform the universe, the group, and the individual, through myth making, and in the interrogation of where power (words, syntax, systems; fear, love, creation, destruction) is located — or locates itself.
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 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
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
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)
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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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
With two papers to fashion on today's to-do list, after a crushingly productive few days here in Rome without seeing anyone, I was dubious about my chances of ticking both off. I'm weary. Things started badly when I switched off the morning alarm and went back to sleep (a reconstructed explanation: I have no memory … Continue reading Buswoman’s holiday