Weekend Reading: Advancing Diversity

What caught my eye this week

The world of online Classics has been dominated this week by calls for inclusion. From Princeton’s efforts to promote diversity in a new studentship, to a round-up of classicist responses to extremism, to the mainstream news of Classics For All’s response to the Boris Johnson row (as well as some high-profile rumoured resignations), the internet has been buzzing with news and opinion about who should study Classics, how Classics should be used by those who study it, and who should be allowed to champion it. This has prompted the Women’s Classical Committee to put out a statement this week on ‘inclusive classics’:

‘Classicists have a responsibility to reckon with our field’s history and to acknowledge the ways in which it has been and continues to be used as a tool to create, perpetuate, and justify discrimination of various kinds. Racism and elitism must not be part of our vision for the discipline’s future.’

It’s easy to accept that we have a responsibility to ensure that Classics is not misused, today, as a building block in arguments of racial or gender superiority. Pharos and Eidolon among others are doing an excellent job of this, but many of us do our part, on a smaller scale, by correcting misconceptions when we encounter them.

The idea that we have a responsibility, as classicists, to ‘reckon with’ the history of Classics as a field is more complex and difficult to define. We can – and we do – ‘reckon with’ the history of the discipline on an academic level; critical evaluation of the biases and cultural influences of earlier scholarship is an essential part of our twenty-first-century analytical toolkit. It’s not just a responsibility; it has become a professional requirement.

But beyond this, where does our ‘responsibility’ lie? The WCC talks about taking action and advancing equality and diversity, and there are some extraordinary individuals and groups doing just that, publicly and loudly. It’s important and necessary work. However, it’s not the only way to change the face of Classics; we don’t all have to be part of the debate in order to have an effect.

There are teachers out there who don’t think about diversity or equality. They’re just teaching kids who want to learn – but the outcome is an eventual greater diversity in the student intake. On an even more basic level, behind all the activists and bloggers there need to be classicists from diverse backgrounds who simply model diversity for others to see. Being different at the same time as being a great classicist is one of the most persuasive ways of ‘advancing diversity’.

So if you feel out of place in the academic world; if tweed makes you itch; if you love your regional accent; if you’ve been passed over, ignored or criticised because you haven’t managed to pull off a flawless impersonation of a ‘proper’ classicist – well, welcome to the club! Pull up a chair, give the table a wipe with your sleeve and grab a handful of Monster Munch. It’s pretty noisy in here, but we’re all having much more fun than the traditionalists up in the ivory tower!





This week’s links from around the web


From Classical Studies Support

Reviewing the JACT Greek and Latin Summer School – Classical Studies Support 

Classics and creativity: a personal history – Classical Studies Support 



A Roman road at Binchester – BBC 

Excavating a Hellenistic theatre – Archaeology News Network 

Syrian museum reopens – The Daily Mail 

Digitising classical sculpture – Smithsonian 

Big news in doctoral training – The Open University 


Comment and opinion

The ‘bonkers’ sequel to Gladiator which was never filmed – BBC 

Demagogue the ‘goblin word’ – The Edithorial 

Classics, comedy and the Fringe – The Scotsman 

Greek colours and biodiversity – Society for Classical Studies 

On tree rings and volcanoes – The Independent 

Pat Barker and the women of Troy – Publishers Weekly 

Exhibiting pictures of Palmyra – Aleteia 

Classics and comics – The Conversation 

Sources for the reception of Spartacus – The Partial Historians 

But wouldn’t it be nice if Kerberos did mean Spot? – Sententiae Antiquae

Classical dogs – Classical Fix

Icarus, Auden and… Brexit?! – The Guardian 

From mummification to memification – Florence Smith Nicholls 

Looted and smuggled antiquities – The Telegraph 

Macedonia, time-travelling archaeologists and a camera – British Journal of Photography

Writing about the VarroVerse – Rome and all that 

Sponge on a stick – A Don’s Life

The dangers of parking under olive trees – Keep Talking Greece 

Battle scenes in art – Anachronism and Antiquity 

Minoan Coca-Cola – Neos Kosmos 

If the Greeks had had smartphones… – Medium


Podcasts, video and other media

Pretty pictures of Rome – The Guardian 

Punk and Classics? – The Mirror of Antiquity 

Mini course on the Iliad, complete with animations! – OpenLearn 

Iliad Part 8: ‘The Beginning of the End of the Beginning’ – Myths, Baby!

The body of Alexander – Kings & Generals 

The oddity of ostracism – Ancient Blogger 

The mysterious Etruscans – Red River Radio 

Animated warfare – The Ancient History Guy 

Aeneas arrives in Italy and Hell breaks loose – Literature and History 


And finally…

I’m discovering that Twitter holds all kinds of wonders…


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