Weekend Reading: Sorry, Old Friend!

This week a lot of things have combined to force me into taking a hard look at where this website came from, and at where it’s going.

I’ve been writing about myself and my achievements this week, as part of an application. Singing my own praises is something that always makes my skin crawl, of course: but worse than that, I’ve realised that I don’t even remember a lot of the things I’ve done in recent years. I think maybe that has something to do with the distance-learning world, in an “if a tree falls in the forest…” kind of way: if you do something impressive but nobody sees it, is it really impressive? Whatever the case, trying to list and describe my activities over the last few years is an endeavour that seems doomed to failure!

In some respects, this website is helpful: it’s a chronicle (admittedly an eccentric one!) of my actions and ideas over the last five years. But looking back over it brings some sadness too.

One of the problems I’ve been having lately is a tendency to lose touch with old and valued friends. I hate it: but in the chaos of too much work, parenting and various family health dramas, something had to give. So people have been gradually dropping out of my life, because I haven’t put the time and effort into holding on to them. It’s probably the thing I regret most about the last year: the missed opportunities to connect with the people I care about.

The same applies to this website: it’s suffering terribly from neglect. There are digital mothballs everywhere, and cobwebs accumulating in the corners of my online resources, and tumbleweed blowing through the archives. I haven’t written anything exciting, or run a new series, or picked a fight, for ages, and I don’t even have time to respond to comments most weeks. It feels almost like I’m letting an old friend down.

I owe a great deal to this website. When I started it, back in 2017, I was spectacularly clueless: all I had was a few vague ideas and a tendency to jump into things without thinking them through (no change there then…!). Over the years, this became my platform: I could use it if I had something important I wanted to say, if I had some useful information to share, or if I wanted to cheer people up on a grand scale. Although I often link to Open University things, I’ve kept this site carefully independent, so that I don’t have any red tape to cut through when I want to make changes or create something new (and so that my weirdness doesn’t bring the university into disrepute!). Thankfully the site’s maintenance now doesn’t cost me anything other than time, since revenue from my Redbubble store has been paying the hosting costs for the last couple of years.

(Oh, please do feel free to support this website by buying something! I’m absolutely terrible about advertising or asking for support – but all purchases, however small, are very much appreciated and allow me to keep going with this site!)

But the fun seems to have gone out of writing, and the weird thing is that I don’t think it’s just me. There isn’t the same amount of fun (and even funny) material that used to be around. The big sites and accounts have gotten bigger and more entrenched, the smaller fry have disappeared, and those of us who keep going seem to be just going through the motions.

So I’m going to be working on finding the fun again – and I have an alarming number of ideas! To start with, here’s the online booking link for my free talk on Thursday: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dr-cora-beth-fraser-a-roman-claudia-in-newcastle-cathedral-tickets-503498937877. PLEASE do book if you’re free, and don’t worry – you won’t be required to say anything, or be put on the spot! If you happen to be around and able to come to Durham for the in-person experience, please do: everybody’s welcome, whether they’re classicists or not. Fun will most definitely be had (I don’t go out very often, so I need to make the most of it…!), and I’ll post photos next week!

One last thing: I’m really bad at asking for help, but I do need some assistance! As part of this application I’m writing, I’m supposed to ask for and include testimonials. So if this website has helped you at any time (either with your studies or with your general happiness and well-being!) could you please send me a quick email (CoraBeth.Fraser@open.ac.uk) to tell me about it? It would mean a lot!

This week from around the internet


Casa dei Vettii reopens – The Guardian

Roman ritual centre at Overstone – BBC

Temple of Poseidon discovery – Phys.org

From Classical Studies Memes for Hellenistic Teens

Comment and opinion

The legal issues around the Parthenon Marbles – The Conversation

Famous horses from the ancient world – The Collector

Burning Sappho in love and song – Antigone Journal

Painful Homeric reunions – The Conversation

Colin Farrell and Alexander’s poor reviews – Collider

Teaching about Orientalism in 2023 – Everyday Orientalism

Podcasts, video and other media

The Kings of Rome, with The Partial Historians – The Ancients

A. E. Stallings: This Afterlife – The Book Club at The Spectator

Comics and Archaeology book launch/ panel discussion – Royal Holloway via Teams

From Classical Studies Memes for Hellenistic Teens

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