It’s been an eventful week, with more ups and downs than a seesaw in a playground (more on that later).
First thing’s first: I should let you know that I’ve changed my name. I’m now Cora Beth Fraser – although it will no doubt take me some time to change it manually all over this website and elsewhere. As you can imagine, there is a long back-story to this, and maybe someday I’ll tell it – but not this week. For now, I’m happy to be back with the name I was born with – I’ve missed it a lot!
The world of work has also been eventful. It’s another long story – but the basic outline is that all Open University tutors (about 4,000 of us) had been promised a shift to a better contract in October 2021. The university suddenly announced this week that this wasn’t going to happen, at least not right now. The contract was a big deal and had been years in the planning, with regular updates and webinars, so the announcement (and the manner of it, which was distinctly off-hand) came as an unpleasant shock. It’s left a lot of us wondering why we care so much for an organisation which doesn’t care for us. So if you know any other OU tutors, this would be a very good week to be nice to them, because they’re pretty unhappy!
What else…? Oh, in Big News, the Roman-themed playground between my house and Arbeia Roman Fort has finally opened – to absolutely no fanfare, yet it’s been attracting huge swarms of excitement-starved families for the last three days. Consequently I haven’t yet managed to get any really good photos, since most of the equipment has been buried in children all week – but here are a few very early-morning shots. As you can see, historical accuracy has not been the main concern – but I’m reliably informed that the slides are very slidey.
I’ve been swamped by work this week (I marked this week “BAD WEEK!!!” in my diary way back in October, and I was not wrong), and have had little time to work on any of the many projects which are bouncing around in my head – but one thing I did make time for was a visit to the monthly #WCCWiki editathon. It was my first time editing Wikipedia, and I was curious to find out more about it. It was certainly an eye-opener! If you’d like to find out more about the work of the WCC volunteer editing team, you can check out their Wikipedia pages here. Essentially their goal is to work on redressing the massive gender imbalance in biographies on Wikipedia, by creating or expanding pages about women in Classics.
I’ve known about their work for a while, but what I didn’t know was how much there is to be done. I thought that maybe I would show up with a name of a notable female classicist or a woman from the ancient world, and then I might spend a while researching and creating a page for her. I hadn’t realised that the WCC Red List (the list of women or organisations in Classics who don’t have a Wikipedia page but probably should) is already well over a thousand! And those are the women who don’t have a page at all; there are many more who only have very brief entries which need considerable work. It’s all quite overwhelming, and daunting too, because it’s not always easy to get pages or edits accepted by other, hostile editors (did you know that you have a better chance of getting an edit accepted if you have a pseudonym that makes you sound like an old white man?). But I have to admit that I rather like the challenge! So I’ll hopefully be editing more Wikipedia entries in the months to come – only you won’t know it’s me, because I have my pseudonym sorted!
Finally this week… I’m coming up on the one-year anniversary of the Comfort Classics interview series! Will there be an Event to mark the occasion? No. Do I have mystery special guests lined up? Also no. But maybe I’ll come up with something for next week…!
This week from around the Classical Internet
Doubts about Sappho poems – The Guardian
Trailer for new series ‘Domina’ – The Hollywood News
Vesuvius killed people in 15 minutes – The Guardian
Roman port in the Wear? – BBC
Paul Cartledge honoured by Greece – Neos Kosmos
Roman remains under Subway – Gloucestershire Live
Caligula’s floating palace mosaic comes home – The Independent
Comment and opinion
Weavers and Profs – London Review of Books
The story of the Calf-Bearer – Greek Reporter
Parts of Hadrian’s Wall you haven’t heard of – Chronicle Live
Drugs and Eleusis – Kiwi Hellenist
A tribute to Tony Birley – CUCD Bulletin
David Raeburn obituary – The Guardian
Diversifying and decolonising – Classics at Reading
Plotinus and mindfulness – Antigone
The music of Sophocles’ Ode To Man – Antigone
The Greeks, Afghanistan and the Buddha – Antigone
Podcasts, videos and other media
Boudica: Through Roman eyes – The Ancients
The rise of Cicero – The Ancients
Ancient Medicine – Time to Heal
The road to Plataea – Casting Through Ancient Greece
Finally, you might enjoy this from Dr Jeremy J. Swist, who took on the challenge of translating some Iron Maiden into Ancient Greek – and performing it…!