Weekend Reading: Summer is Coming

Yesterday my Open University A330 (Myth) and A863 (MA Part 1) students submitted their final pieces of work. Such a relief – for them mostly, but for me too! Well done to everybody – you should be very proud of the work you’ve put in.


congratulations candles


So lots of readers of this website are about to dive into the summer break with – I’d imagine – equal measures of enthusiasm and exhaustion! For others, their study of Classics is coming to an end.

Some of the latter will be finishing in triumph, completing a degree that has extended over many years of juggling work and family life. If you’re one of those people, you should start celebrating immediately – don’t wait for the results! Celebrate surviving the process: because so many people right now are wondering if they’ll ever make it that far! And do book in for a graduation ceremony, if you can. Don’t be afraid to go alone if you can’t bring friends or family: there’s nothing unusual about that at the OU – and you won’t be alone for long! [I go to the Gateshead ceremony every year by myself, and invariably end up making new friends and having a great time!]


A graduation dinner with one of my all-time favourite students, George, who sadly passed away a few years ago.


For other people, coming to the end of a degree is a source of sadness. Sometimes it’s lack of money that prevents people from continuing; sometimes lack of time or support, or energy! I’ve spoken to several people lately who’ve talked about how they’ve only just found their passion, but now they have to stop studying because they’ve come to the end of their degree.

It is sad: but there’s a lot out there for the ‘independent scholar’ these days, far more than was available ten or fifteen years ago, and more opportunities are opening up all the time. So this is not necessarily the end for your studies. You can study new things for free on FutureLearn and OpenLearn, and other online platforms. You can keep up with events near you by joining your local branch of the Classical Association, or a local historical society if you have one. You can pursue your own research projects and send articles to undergraduate or postgraduate journals for feedback. You can connect with academics on Twitter, and with lots of OU groups on Facebook. You can go to summer school. You can look into the new loan options for further study. And you can certainly write for this website: just drop me a line if you’d like to write an article!

You could also spend some time refining your work for the Undergraduate Awards, or writing something new for the Kassman essay prize.




Those people who haven’t finished their studies are looking forward to a summer break before taking on the next challenge: whether it’s another undergraduate module, or moving on to the MA, or the jump from Part 1 to Part 2 of the MA, or even progression to a PhD. For those people, I’m putting together some ‘summer toolkits’, with advice and resources for making the best use of your summer break – if you’re not planning on spending all of it on a beach, that is. I’m not quite finished yet, but will have something to upload by next week…

So whatever your next steps, congratulations to all those who’ve just submitted a big project: it’s a great feeling, and I hope you enjoy it! I’ll be raising a glass to you all tonight.







This week’s classical links from around the internet



Discovery of an entire Roman town – The Independent 

Walk in the shoes of the Roman army – The Herald, Scotland 

Hadrian’s Wall cartoon exhibition – BBC News 

Shedding new light on the invasion of Scotland – The Scotsman 

Reading the oldest biblical text – The Independent

Medea in London – The Guardian

Head of Dionysus in Rome – The Telegraph 



Comment and opinion

Volunteering at the British Museum – Between the Acts 

On Hagia Sophia – Hyperallergic

Martha Nussbaum’s Socrates – Ad Astra Per Mundum 

Treasures of Western Crete – Ancient History Encyclopedia

Rome, domestic violence and Game of Thrones – Society for Classical Studies 

Mary Beard on the point of Classics – The Class of the Tragic Poet 

Fake Latin for Game of Thrones fans – Sententiae Antiquae 

Classics in eastern Europe – The Edithorial 

The Circo Maximo Experience – Minerva’s Pencil Case 

Misquoting Classics – Kiwi Hellenist 



Podcasts, video and other media

The Ptolemies and Game of Thrones – Oriental Institute 

Putting Odysseus on trial – Odyssey: The Podcast

Rome’s apartment blocks – When In Rome 

Fragments of early Roman literature – Emperors of Rome 

Interview with Charlotte Higgins – Audite 

Interview with Caroline Lawrence – Coffee and Circuses 

New leaders and new strategies – The History of Ancient Greece

Suetonius’ Twelve Caesars in cat photos – Twitter 



Events and opportunities

‘Reading the Classical Past’: an OU workshop – Classical Reception Studies Network 

Antiquities Trafficking – free online course – FutureLearn

Contribute to a new Classics blog – All Blogs Lead to Rome

Eboracum Roman Festival, York, this weekend:



And finally…

This ‘Green and Yellow’ rap made me happy, when I stumbled upon it this week!



7 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: Summer is Coming

  1. For some it’s a time to take stock and relax for a bit! For me on the other hand, I’m well and truly back on the classics ‘horse’. I’m back to Durham in July so I’m brushing up on my Latin in preparation and I’m delving back into the books with dissertation ideas on my mind!


    1. I forgot I had that photo. For some reason I went looking for my copy of Simon Armitage’s ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’, which George gave me, and a stack of photos fell out, with a card from George thanking me for pestering him to finally go to a graduation!


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