Conference summer (plus bonus job news)

I probably made a bit of an error in launching my website and intending to keep it reasonably up to date immediately before I embarked on a long period of conference-going and other activities. It seems that this June and July has been chock full of conference activity relevant to my research in Athenian oratory. I’ve attended four conferences in the last seven weeks (plus had a week’s holiday and taught a two-week summer school, so it’s been pretty full on), with two being abroad, presenting papers at two, and chairing a panel at one.

Firstly, I spoke at a three-day conference on Linguistic Representations of Identity in Rhetoric Ancient and Modern at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. The conference was a nice mix of people working on different kinds of rhetoric – primarily Greek and Roman for the ancient side, and Polish and American for the modern. I spoke on jury identity in cases involving homicide in the Athenian courts, specifically looking at how speakers compared dikastic juries with the Areopagus jury in both derogatory and aspirational ways. The paper pulled together a few disparate points from my thesis; it’s unlikely to appear as a paper in its own right, as I wasn’t overly excited by it, but hopefully the points will be made in the thesis book (which I’ll be working on the proposal for throughout August).

Next, I attended just a day of the Rhetoric Society of Europe Conference at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. This is an even more broad-ranging conference, and the panel I chaired – on rhetorics of laughter in Greek literature – was one of the only ones (that day at least) on ancient Greek rhetoric, so I felt a bit out of my depth. The panel was a success, though, and I met some new colleagues as well as seeing some familiar faces.

Then, the showpiece of the summer: a panel on Identity in Greek Oratory at the Celtic Conference in Classics at McGill University/University de Montreal in Montreal, Canada. This was only my second time (in my memory) crossing the Atlantic, and I’m a bit of a nervous flier, so the trip stood out a bit in the calendar. It was also a longer paper than that I delivered in Poland – the Celtic Conference is designed to host a number of long panels spanning the several days of the conference, with 35-40 minutes for each paper, rather than the more common 20. And on top of all that, it was my first time presenting new research that’s entirely unrelated to my thesis, and that hadn’t been looked over by any supervisors or senior academics. Happily, my talk – on space, place, and identity in Antiphon 5 – was well received, and gave me a boost in continuing to pursue the project despite it having been rejected for Leverhulme funding earlier in the year.

That confidence was bolstered by my final conference of the summer, the International Society for the History of Rhetoric conference at Queen Mary, University of London. It was a relief not to speak, particularly as the ISHR conference began on the day I returned from Montreal, and jetlag was taking its toll. The theme of the conference was spaces of rhetoric, though, which in part served to reaffirm my belief that spatial methods are useful for reading rhetoric. The conference, being broad-ranging again, also allowed me to explore some additional and new interests, as I attended a panel on early modern, particularly Shakespearean, rhetoric (my undergraduate degree was joint honours Classics and English Literature) and a paper on procedural rhetoric and empathy in video games (turning a hobby of mine into work!)

The results of all this conferencing: I feel (re)determined in terms of disseminating my research, both old and new, to the academic community; I’ve seen (almost) every one of my valued colleagues in a short space of time; I’m absolutely exhausted and rather sick of travelling. Luckily for me, I’ve now got six weeks of time entirely on my own terms, in which I tend to work on the book proposal as well as finish up an article that’s been hanging around for a couple of months.

And what happens in six weeks? There’s my final piece of good news: in September I join the Open University as a part-time Lecturer in Classical Studies for two years. I’m really excited about this new opportunity, the first post-PhD step in my career. Onward!

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