Weekend Reading: Working on Class

I don’t have many links to offer you this week, I’m afraid – the combination of half term and a huge pile of assignments has left me with very little time for anything not parenting- or marking-related! But I did want to draw your attention, this week, to the Class in Classics survey, which is available now and which is open to anyone in Classics, including current and former students. The survey has been put together by the Network for Working-Class Classicists (the NWCC), supported by the Council of University Classics Departments Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (CUCD EDI).

It’s a really exciting time right now for those of us from what are euphemistically called ‘non-traditional backgrounds’, because there are several new groups which are starting to draw attention to what we need. However, it can be easy to get them mixed up – so here’s some background…

For students, graduates and teachers, and anybody with an interest in the ancient world, the Working Classicists (George and Miri) offer resources, opportunities for publication – and sometimes also pretty great merchandise!

My Working Classicist badge, which I wear with pride!

I wrote for the Working Classicists site myself, earlier this year (‘Taking a Name’) – and they’ve very kindly listed me on their Social Media page as someone to disagree nicely with before bowling and pizza, which does in fact sound like my perfect evening. Recently they’ve collected some really great articles covering all sorts of topics, from new Classics-themed video games to an improbable pumpkin recipe from Apicius. Do take a look at their Zine page for lots of entertaining reads, and contact them if you have an ideas for an article that you’d like to pitch (they’re very friendly)! They also have a lot of important things to say about the state of Classics, and some practical suggestions on how to make things better.

The other new working-class organisation is different in focus. Concentrating on people trying to negotiate academia, either as staff or as students, the Network for Working-Class Classicists (NWCC) campaigns for structural change, is setting up a mentoring scheme, and draws attention to issues which disproportionately affect students and lecturers from underprivileged backgrounds. It’s run out of the Edinburgh University Classics Department, and was set up by Lilah Grace and Mirko Canevaro. Their most recent post is about the cost of living and financial inequality, and their blog is well worth following.

The NWCC has teamed up with CUCD EDI (a group which focuses on equality, diversity and inclusion issues in UK university Classics departments) to set up a survey. One of the problems we have in UK Classics is a lack of information about people’s social and economic background and the impact of their background on their progression through Classics, and without that information it’s difficult to represent the people in Classics properly. This survey is a first step – but for it to matter, people need to fill it in and tell others about it! So here’s the link: https://www.workingclassclassics.uk/2022/10/25/uk-class-in-classics-survey/. If you’re part of a group or organisation relating to Classics in the UK, please do share the link, to reach as many people as possible!

(I helped out a bit by designing the survey logo!)

The survey is open to everyone connected with Classics in the UK, in any capacity. Do set aside some time to fill it in, though – particularly if you think you might have a lot to say!

It means a lot to me that these things are happening in Classics. It’s too late for me, of course – I long ago ran the gauntlet of the dismissive aristocratic students and the independently wealthy competitors for jobs, and found my own solution by hiding in my comfy corner of the world with a cup of coffee and a cat on my knee, only occasionally popping out to stir up trouble. But for people who are entering the discipline, at any level, it matters that there are people fighting to level the playing field for them. Granted, there’s a lot to be done: but it feels good to make a start!

Speaking of things that feel good… it’s almost the end of #ClassicsTober! The daily art challenge has been an awful lot of fun (I’ll give a round-up of high spots next week), but right now I’m exhausted! Here’s a taster of what I’ve been up to…

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