15 Weeks of Comfort Classics

As lockdowns across the world start to ease (rightly or wrongly) and people begin to pick up the pieces of their pre-lockdown lives, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on the last 15 weeks of Comfort Classics – and to make a few changes for the future.

 

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It’s fair to say that this interview series has kept me occupied over the last few months. Life was busy enough to begin with – I was trying to hold down a full-time job while single-parenting and home-schooling during a pandemic. So I’ve usually been trying to fit Comfort Classics stuff into the hours around midnight, just before I collapse! Then of course there have been the various interviews I’ve been asked to do about the series (here with the RSA and OU FASS) – not to mention the entire day I lost to learning how to make a video of myself.

But it’s been worth the effort. The series has brought me into contact with some amazing people, some of whom I knew already, many of whom I didn’t. I’ve found out things I didn’t know about people I’ve known for years! I send out my questions to people with no idea what they’ll send back to me – and often I’ve been surprised by the result! People have also been very kind; many have contacted me and volunteered to take part, while others have politely put up with me contacting them out of the blue to ask for a favour. It’s made me realise just how friendly the world of Classics can be (as long as you don’t ask people to review your work, of course!).

Most of all, though, it’s been worth doing for the emails and contact messages I’ve received from readers. I’ve heard a lot of stories about difficult situations, and about the  awful things that some of you have been going through (and still are). This series is little enough in the scheme of things, but I hope that it’s been helping to bring you some comfort.

If you have found the series helpful in some way, do contact me, leave a comment below or email me. Without your words of encouragement, I wouldn’t have kept doing this after the first couple of weeks! And if any of the interviews in particular have helped or inspired you, do let me know and I’ll pass your comments on to the contributor – and it would also be helpful if you could let me know whether I can use your comments when I write to my interviewees to thank them.

I don’t usually wave around website statistics (I get the impression that it’s not really done in blogging circles), but I thought it might help to show you something. Usually my website attracts about 2,000 readers every month – and I’m very happy with that. I’m going for quality over quantity in my readers! But since I started the Comfort Classics series at the very end of March… well, take a look:

 

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And that doesn’t include all the people who’ve recently signed up to receive posts by email. Altogether, more people have visited my website in the first 5 days of July than I would usually see in a whole month. And while I’d love to claim that all of these readers are attracted by my sparkling wit and charm, it’s fairly obvious that they’re here for the classical happy thoughts.

I’m not planning to end the series, if that’s what you’re wondering – I have a lot of great interviews lined up over the next few weeks, and I would miss it too much if it stopped altogether! I know, too, that for many of you the situation has not changed, and you’re still just as stuck as you were 15 weeks ago. But it is time for me to move away from the daily posts. For a while I had a huge backlog of interviews to publish; but now, after more than 70 interviews, there are fewer people to ask! I’d love to make it to the nice round number of 100 eventually – but we’ll see! So from now on you can expect to see interviews appearing frequently, just not every day. It’s about time I started thinking about some other projects too (watch this space, particularly if you’re studying for the OU’s Classical Studies MA)!

And yes – in response to repeated requests! – I will do a Comfort Classics interview myself… although it feels a bit silly to ‘interview’ myself! Also, if you’ve been considering getting in touch with me and offering to join in, please do!

Finally I’d like to thank a few people, because without them the series would have floundered long ago. Obviously I’d like to thank all the contributors, past and future, for taking the time to answer my questions! I’d like to thank Steve, for being first to join in and for sending me chocolate to keep me going, and for staying so cheerful under impossible circumstances; and Klara, for teaching me that people don’t necessarily mind being asked to do things (and for the biscuits too, of course!). A special thank you to the indomitable Peter for regular ‘Just checking to see how you’re doing’ phonecalls; and to John for the wine (which is not entirely gone yet, believe it or not!). Thanks to Crom for all the advice; and to Sarah for continuing to spread the word about the series despite everything that’s been going on. Thanks should also go to the Rogue Classicist and to Steve Jenkin at The Classics Library for enabling the series to reach many more readers. I have to say that ClassicsTwitter has been amazing, not just for joining in but also for pulling together over this weird time and helping people out. And of course I need to thank everyone at the OU – staff and students – for being so brilliant, as always! It’s very comforting to have so many fabulous and enthusiastic classicists in my life.

 

Cora Beth.

 

 

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7 thoughts on “15 Weeks of Comfort Classics

  1. I’ve loved reading all the interviews. Having left classics several years ago I’d forgotten just how much I miss it – and my copy Women’s Religions in the Greco-Roman world has been calling out to me from the bookcase! You’ve done a great job!

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  2. It has been brilliant and the range of different interests, research areas and simply what excites individuals is amazing.

    It has resulted in reading many of the books I have but have only used in the past for brief references – I cannot tell you how much I have got from doing this.

    More power to your elbow and, don’t do yourself down, of course it is your sparkling wit and charm. What else could it be?

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  3. I’ve looked forward to, and enjoyed reading, daily each entry in the Comfort Classics series; of course Homer, Ovid, Virgil etc are going to be there but I’ve enjoyed most the more unusual choices, the child’s sock, the wonderfully atmospheric scene in Crete of the icon stands, part of the ruins of Corinth, and my particular favourite is the South Italian vase ; these and the many other different choices show how broad and deep is the field of Classics. So thank you Cora Beth for the pleasure you have brought and it’s thanks to inspirational teachers like yourself that Classics is still living.

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  4. I’ve loved this series of interviews; it gives so many different perspectives of the Classics from such a wide variety of authors. If I didn’t recognise the author’s name, I loved finding out their identity at the end of the piece; reading about the personal connection between the author and the source was also really interesting. I’ve enjoyed all of the interviews so far, particularly the interviews with Mary Beard and Frances Breen. I loved Mary Beard’s provision of an alternative interpretation of the Cyclops episode in Homer’s Odyssey; I totally agree with that interpretation. Frances Breen’s piece on the tiny swan on the Pompei fresco was beautifully written in a story-teller’s voice and transported me to the Pompeii frescoes, but really, all the interviews were brilliant and really helped bring some Classic comfort during a sad and challenging time; thank you so, so much Cora Beth. I feel the interviews need to be published in hard copy too as a ‘take-about’ book to turn to and keep.

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