This week I was lucky enough to attend an Open University Graduation Ceremony at the Sage Gateshead. If you’ve attended any OU graduation ceremony before, you’ll know what fun they are: lots of cheering and yelling – and that’s just from the lecturers! The emphasis is always on celebration and having a great time: so while there are elements of solemnity, they’re carried out with a smile!
The nice thing about our graduation ceremonies at the Sage is that they’re not huge, and so the proceedings aren’t rushed. Before the ceremony families wander around, drinking coffee and taking photos against the spectacular backdrop of the river Tyne. Strangers pause as they pass you, offering to take your photo with your loved ones – or holding out a spare safety pin if they notice your hood is slipping! Graduating parents lend their robes to their children to try on. During the ceremony, people in the audience whoop and stamp and whistle and laugh, and sometimes graduates pause in their walk across the stage to shake the hand of a favourite lecturer. This year our Acting Vice-Chancellor, Mary Kellett, spent time talking to each person who crossed the stage, even pausing to hug some or pose for photos.
The only sad thing about graduation ceremonies is that they show just a fraction of what OU students have achieved, because so many graduating students decide not to attend. Some people just don’t require that ceremony to mark the end of their degree, of course, and that’s fair enough: we don’t all need a fanfare and a round of applause.
But sometimes I hear from people who don’t attend because they have no family nearby to be their guests, or because they haven’t actually met any other students and worry about feeling awkward. I’d like to encourage those people to think again. Nobody stands alone for long at a graduation ceremony: there’s always somebody who comes up to you to ask what you’ve been studying, or how long you’ve been with the OU, or whether you plan to do any more studying. Before you know it, you’re laughing with a group of people you’ve never met before, and swapping module recommendations!
So I’d like to congratulate all those who graduated this week: it was wonderful to see you! And congratulations, too, to all those who chose to receive their certificate in the post instead: I’m clapping and cheering for you as well!
This week’s links from the internet
Greek statues and graves – Archaeology News Network
A wooden bowl from Orkney – The Scotsman
Embalming severed heads – The Guardian
Exhibition of Assyrian might – The Guardian
Romans near Blackpool – The Blackpool Gazette
An exciting ramp – The Guardian
Cracking down on cultural theft – The Telegraph
Visiting Rome in November? – Wanted in Rome
A musical about Orpheus – The Guardian
Comment and opinion
Using Antigone to fight stereotypes – ABC News
Reviewing Ancient Magic – Institute of Classical Studies
Showing Greek culture to the world – The New Paper
Dirty Roman jokes – Live Science
The fall of the Republic – History
Quotations from Thucydides – The Sphinx
Lincolnshire Romans – Current Archaeology
Theatre of War – The New Yorker
Journals and academic nostalgia – A Don’s Life
The ancient Greeks would have loved Alexa – The Spectator
The healing power of tragedy – The Smithsonian Magazine
Classics in Ghana – Classical Reception Studies Network
Heracles split in two – The Historian’s Hut
On truth and Trump – Eidolon
Cleopatra the ‘sinister seductress’ – Pharos
Classics, colour and creativity – Our Mythical Childhood
Recommending books on Rome – Five Books
Displaying the word – CREWS Project
A slice of Pompeii – City Today
Ovid and rape – The New Yorker
Reading Alexander – The Second Achilles
‘Mummy brown’ paint – Daily JSTOR
Articles on politics – Eidolon
Denouncing Christie’s profits – Hyperallergic
Defending Classics from the alt-right – The Washington Post
Podcasts, videos and other media
Meaningful Latin phrases – BBC Ideas
On Weaving Women’s Stories – Classics Confidential
… a podcast which is reviewed here – The History Girls
Talking about myths – Plebcast
Orion and the scorpion – Myths, Baby!