Weekend Reading: A Round of Applause

Being part of the Platform Party


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 

A new ‘Trojan Women’ – NJ.com …and NJ Arts 

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! 



3 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: A Round of Applause

  1. I didn’t attend a ceremony for my BA purely because I didn’t want to go alone! I’m not usually bothered about going to things by myself but didn’t think I’d enjoy a graduation ceremony by myself. This piece has made me think twice, I’ll really consider going to my next one…. all being well that it!


    1. In some ways I think it’s even more fun to go alone, Tony! If you’re with family, people often don’t want to intrude: but when you’re alone everybody wants to chat! There are also lots of volunteers there, on the alumni stands and the careers desk, who love to talk to graduates about their plans. I’d definitely recommend it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I couldn’t be bothered graduating first time around; I was so disillusioned with my ‘traditional’ university experience. But my later-life experience of OU ceremonies has been fantastic.Go! Definitely!! And on your own, yes. The atmosphere is incredible. You’ll have a thoroughly good time. Enjoy ;-D

    Liked by 1 person

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