Weekend reading: And so it begins…

This is the first in what I hope will be an ongoing series of weekly (or weekend-ly) posts, rounding up the interesting classical news and comments of the week from around the web. I’ve pinched the idea from one of my favourite blogs, the wonderful Monevator, without which my Saturday mornings would be dull and intellectually lightweight.

So if you’ve subscribed to my website, an email will appear in your inbox each Friday night or Saturday morning with links to interesting, peculiar and occasionally controversial Classics news and views for you to read over your morning coffee.

This is, however, a work in progress: I’ll be learning as I go along, and building up! So please send me suggestions of blogs and sites that I’ve missed, and I’ll add them to my list.

Please, too, make full use of the ‘Comments’ box with responses to any of the stories and features: I’d love to know what you think!


What caught my eye this week

There’s been a lot written over the last week or two in response to the Twitter row over the use of the title of ‘Dr’, particularly in relation to female academics (see The Independent) and historians, generating the tag #ImmodestWomen and prompting the mass change of titles by women with doctorates. Some Twitter users, like Prof Helen King (Why I’m not changing my Twitter ID), have resisted this movement, making the point that:

If you’ve got it, by all means flaunt it, but don’t expect your life as a woman with a PhD to become any easier. It will take more than changing some twitter handles to achieve that. We still live in a sexist society and all of us, women and men, need to go on challenging the assumptions of the academic world.

The whole debate, I think, is demoralising to people (and particularly to women) who aspire to the title of Doctor, and for whom a PhD is the crowning achievement. So I’d like to try, in my small way, to redress that.

I know lots of women who have doctorates, and every single one of them enjoys their title in numerous little ways; from scribbling out ‘Miss’ on a form and replacing it with ‘Dr’, to writing their title on a letter and receiving a suddenly helpful response. Personally, I use it very little; most people around me don’t know that I have a title. For me, as a Doctor Who fan from childhood, becoming a Doctor was the fulfilment of a life’s ambition, whether anybody knew about it or not!

It doesn’t matter whether you decide to use your title, hide it, or keep it in your back pocket for emergencies. However you regard it, as long as you work hard for it, it will be a source of satisfaction, and it will change how you see yourself. Sexism on Twitter, or even in the workplace, doesn’t touch that. Don’t let the current arguments tarnish your ambitions: if becoming a Dr matters to you on a personal or professional level, then it’s a great goal to have.

…Trust me, I’m a Doctor!



From Classical Studies Support

Try your hand at undergraduate publication – Classical Studies Support

From the archives: Becoming a Study Addict – Classical Studies Support 


Classics in the News

Nighthawks and the rise of Heritage Crime – Telegraph


Comment and opinion

Oxford and ‘replying’ to the past – Mary Beard at TLS

Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and its remarkable relevance to Brexit – The Edithorial

Etymology and pernicious sexism – Eidolon

Maybe university education is improving? – Sphinx

Wise words from Pliny on holiday reading – Sententiae Antiquae

The do’s and don’t’s of the literature review – Patter

Divine madness or mental instability? – Classical Fix


Podcasts, videos and other media

From the sublime… –  The Endless Knot

Pop into the Colosseum for a quick look around – Ancient Rome Live

It’s almost like being there –  Herculaneum in Pictures

So pretty…

ryse son of rome



Off our beat

Are we at the OU emotionally attached to our books? –  The Ed Techie

4 thoughts on “Weekend reading: And so it begins…

  1. Hello,

    Some great links. i shall follow up a few of them.

    I too saw some of the debate about using titles. I do feel it is a bit divisive if you insist on being addressed by your title…although it depends if you demand that of your children over the breakfast table, or in a learning environment.

    I would never assume a women to be attached to the title Miss, Ms or Mrs and it is safer for me to avoid such things. To attract a tutors attention in class and in emails addressing the recipient as Dr is just good manners, although my current tutor is happy to be called by her first name in either setting! I am aware of her qualifications and that’s enough for most people – I would hope.

    But it is certainly not good manners to assume that a woman you are conversing with face to face is a Miss Ms etc – or even madam.


  2. Great to hear from you again, Ian!

    Yes, I think the manners angle is an important one; it’s always been challenging to address women in a way that is neither impolite (avoiding titles altogether) nor presumptuous (guessing at the right title!). The doctorate issue is merely a new facet of a very old problem; but because it’s linked to professional respect, it’s a particularly sensitive one.

    I did try to insist on my proper title within the family: but they got their own back by going out and getting doctorates of their own! Now there are four of us, and it’s getting a bit silly…!


  3. Dear Cora-Beth, I do like your site, very interesting stuff with lots going on to look at in the links. My view on the Dr. debate is much embedded in my education in the late 60’s mid 1970’s when it was much drummed into us that the outside world was a meritocracy, so in that sense I support the use of well earned titles.


  4. Thanks, Neil – hopefully the weekend posts will improve with practice!

    I think the outside world is still a meritocracy, but a lot of people don’t like to see it that way. A lot of tutors took issue, for instance, with the recent OU slogan ‘Dream. Believe. Succeed’ because it made no mention of the role of hard work in success. People began to drift into the OU with the belief that all they needed was a dream, and it became our job to burst their bubble!


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