Dog Eat Dog

What should an academic career in the humanities look like today – beyond “not like this”? The question is prompted in the short term by the fact that Mary Beard, to mark her retirement, has taken the opportunity to promote discussion of the academic precariat and the extent to which things have changed over the course of her own career; but if, like me, you use Twitter partly as a means of networking with younger colleagues and early career researchers, this is a topic which has long been pretty well impossible to avoid. One way of trying to think about it, from a not-as-old-as-Mary-but-still-moderately-decrepit-and-comfortably-established perspective, is to wonder about the ideal against which the present situation is being compared; what is it so much worse than, and when did it all change? Continue Reading »

The continuing joys of Long COVID… The main function of this blog post is just to give a link to a profound and thought-provoking piece by the ever-wonderful Maria Farrell over at Crooked Timber, talking about her experience of living with and adapting to ME/CFS, with an eye to this new epidemic of the after-effects of the plague. It’s full of striking and memorable phrases (“cosplaying normality”!), and you simply need to go and read it, and reflect.

I found it quite uncomfortable, to be honest. Continue Reading »

Was It Worth It?

And so farewell then, the Thucydiocy Podcast. In seven episodes, stretched out irregularly over several years, you established in mind-numbing detail the different ways in which people have misattributed things to Thucydides, to an audience of many tens of people, two of whom once posted positive feedback… Wait a minute! There is a faint pulse! It lives, to be largely ignored for another day! Continue Reading »

Blank Space

I am not, I would like to think, an unreasonable Luddite. I suppose it could be said that what I am is at best inconsistent; sometimes not a Luddite at all, indeed sometimes the sort of middle-aged man who desperately strives to keep up with odd bits of the technological Zeitgeist, enjoying catch-up TV while wondering what happened to car CD players, and sometimes an entirely reasonable Luddite. I can see, for example, why my favoured approach to constructing an index – creating a simple Word table by working methodically through page proofs, and then doing an A-Z sort – is clearly unsuited to the world of eBooks and online publication. And so I didn’t whine too much when asked to provide a list of index terms when submitting the manuscript of a forthcoming edited volume. Continue Reading »

Broken English

It’s always nice to learn that someone has found something you did a while ago useful – yes, I know there are giants in the field who get thoroughly sick of being told how they’ve transformed the understanding and indeed life philosophy of another dozen junior scholars this month, but us provincial types have more modest horizons. This month, I’ve actually had it twice. Someone liked an obscure thing I wrote on ‘historiography as trauma’ in Thucydides and has done the hard yards of a proper analysis of the theme in relation to the Sicilian Expedition rather than just tossing out a few random ideas on the topic – so, watch out for the new piece by Bernd Steinbock. And then I heard about what may prove to be my greatest, if rather unsung, contribution to the world of learning… Continue Reading »

There is a small, rather marginal community, struggling to survive in the face of the pressures of the modern world, heavily dependent on attracting tourists. There is a series of odd and sometimes alarming occurrences, which most people ignore – but a few argue that there is a pattern to them and actually they are signs that the community is faced with an existential threat. The music becomes ominous. Continue Reading »

Public Image

Ah, the brand. The backbone of all that we do, the foundation of international success, the very heart of the institution. It’s not enough to produce excellent teaching and research if your logo fails to communicate your core values in just the wrong shade of green.

But things could be worse. Continue Reading »

Dead Flag Blues

One of the many interesting questions raised in yesterday’s final session of the series of workshops I’ve organised to explore ‘The Politics of Decadence’ was this: would you describe the current UK government as decadent, and why (not)? Corrupt, undoubtedly, among many other things; but, while decadence always involves corruption, it’s fair to say that not all corruption is a sign of decadence (h/t Shushma Malik, one of the loyal workshop participants, and her work with the Potsdam-Roehampton project on corruption in antiquity). The best questions get to the heart of a range of issues and open up the problems inherent in a concept or approach; while ostensibly light-hearted and trivial, this is one of those questions… Continue Reading »

This weekend, there’s a fabulous-looking conference at Cornell on Thucydides and Aristophanes in honour of the great and wonderful Jeff Rusten. The advertising on the Twitter is slightly less wonderful…

Now, if this were my colleagues organising a conference in my honour, this would be deliberate trolling; Continue Reading »

The glass-half-full position is that a problem I didn’t know I had has been solved by the very thing that raised it in the first place. It had simply not occurred to me to wonder whether the still-lingering after-effects of the plague – aka Long COVID – mean that I am now someone with a disability, or someone who is disabled. It’s certainly true that my ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities – and, like, do my job properly, especially the research-and-writing bits – has been substantially impaired, to a greater degree than can be explained by simple old age and uselessness, but surely that’s not the same as being disabled? Well, no need to worry; the Equality and Human Rights Commission has declared that it isn’t. True, the EHRC’s recent record on racism doesn’t promote complete confidence in its judgements, but like other British institutions I can choose to believe in my recent problems being a matter of a few bad apples rather than a systemic issue… Continue Reading »