Homer’s Women: Reflections

Homer’s Women: Reflections

[This post originally appeared on the By Jove Theatre Blog]

In January 2018, I began teaching a course on the Homeric poems in translation at UCL. The course was designed around a lecture and seminar per week; the students learned about the background and reception of the poems in the lecture with my colleague, then were split into two groups to study the books of the Iliad in detail. The course requires a large amount of reading and interpretation of the original poem in translation, but the richness of the reception history of both poems, as well as the London location, also made the course ripe for bringing in additional materials, including films and exhibitions. But perhaps one of the most evocative aspects of the poems is their orality, which cannot often be captured in class. As a result, I decided that teaching the class presented an opportunity to produce a performance with By Jove that would both augment the learning experience of my students and allow us as a company to explore some of the themes that we found particularly interesting in the poems.

It should come as no surprise that I envisioned the performance as a way to explore the female characters, primarily the mortal female characters, in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. When we think about the protagonists of these stories, we usually think of Achilles, Agamemnon, Hektor, Odysseus. The (speaking) female characters that we encounter are almost all entirely dependent on these men, in terms of both their characters and their narratives. Many of them exist to wait for men and their actions. Andromache waits for Hektor to win or to die, knowing that her own fate is tied up in his. Hecuba and the other Trojan women do much the same. Helen waits to be rescued, or not – to end up with one man or the other, with no apparent will in the matter. Penelope may be the patron saint of waiting for a man. Others seem to exist purely to further a male narrative – Nausikaa, that helpful princess, exists in the Odyssey purely to facilitate Odysseus’ progress – her story begins and ends with him. Even women with divinity in their blood exist (in a narrative sense) only to be helpers of (male) heroes – Thetis in particular – and though Circe and Kalypso would rather hinder Odysseus’ progress, both end up guiding him forward.

As a result, Homer’s women are negative space around male heroes. The narrative pushes them towards and shapes them around men, so that they barely exist without them. In this performance, we want to explore what happens when we focus only on that negative space – when we remove the men, the narrative, even the poet? What happens when we hear the words that Homer puts in these women’s mouths in isolation? When we read between the lines of what they say and don’t say? When we go beyond paradigms in search of people? Without men, who are these women?

I worked on the development of the performance with three members of By Jove – SJ Brady, Sinead Costelloe, and Wendy Haines. We began by taking extracts of the poems that contained the women’s dialogue, and separated it out from the rest of the narrative. We used Richmond Lattimore’s translation of both poems, for the benefit of its poetic language and having the same translator for both poems. We selected those characters who we felt we could fit together into a mini-narrative for the performance, and whose characterisation in the original poems showed the most nuance and space for development in a new version, settling on Helen, Andromache, Kalypso, Penelope, Thetis, and Circe. If we had had more time for development, or had chosen a slightly different frame, we would also have included Hecuba and Nausikaa.

In our development discussion, we settled on the concept that as Circe acts as an instruction-giver or guide to Odysseus, she would have the same role for our audience during the performance, guiding them from one character to the next. The performance would take the structure of a prologue, followed by five character ‘monologues’ divided by Circe’s interludes. The interludes consisted of passages lifted from the original poems matched in some way to the themes of the following monologue, finished off by a triplet composed of lines from elsewhere in the poem naming the upcoming character. Each of the women’s narratives was a new piece of poetry adapted from the original text, with more or less resemblance to it. Each performer delivering a monologue wrote it herself.

The performance sparked a lively and interesting discussion in the Q & A afterwards, both about our methods and choices in writing and about the ways in which our work allowed reflections on the original poems. We were particularly struck by how rich the speeches of these women were when lifted out of the clamour of battle and men’s voices, and how little we had to step outside of the poem in order to bring them to life. For myself, too, as a first time performer, I found the experience of memorising and reciting lines of Homer especially evocative. In my section on Thetis, I chose to recite the names of 33 Nereids that Homer includes in the original poem, and this long recitation took on an almost ritual quality for me. I felt somehow like a spiritual descendant of the original oral poets who composed the poem, and also felt like I had tapped into an aspect of these poems that cannot be accessed by simply reading them on the page.

All in all, I was extremely pleased with the final performance, and found the experience as a whole both artistically rewarding and academically stimulating. I hope to be able to develop the piece further for a future performance.

 

New article in CUCD Bulletin

New article in CUCD Bulletin

It’s been a long time since my last post – who knew getting an academic position would mean I would be so busy! But I did want to share this with you all. Recently I had a short article appear in the CUCD Bulletin, which discusses matters of interest to Classics teachers. My article discussed my involvement in a project called ‘Research equals Teaching’ at UCL, which explored research-based teaching through staff-student partnerships. I worked as a student editor on the book project, which will be released next month. I’ll be speaking at the book launch event, and continuing to work with the next generation of R=T student contributors.

If you’d like to learn more about the project, its findings, and specifically their applications in the Classics HE classroom, you can read my article ‘Staff-Student Partnerships in Pedagogy and Research-Based Education: Lessons for Classics’ here.

My first ‘job season’

My first ‘job season’

Now that I’ve settled into my new job at the Open University, I thought I’d share what my journey from the end of my PhD to this first, fixed-term job. Reading about other people’s trajectories was something that helped me a lot during the long slog of job applications, so I hope this might be able to do the same for some of you, who might be stepping onto that path soon, or may even already be on it.

I submitted my PhD thesis roughly a year ago (22nd September 2016). As far as I remember, I only applied for one fixed-term job before submitting – it was at my home institution, and I had a lot of knowledge about the job because of that, so I applied despite knowing I would be in an unfavourable position compared to other candidates who had the PhD in hand (and indeed I was). After that, I didn’t keep track of how many jobs I applied for pre-viva, but I don’t think it was very many, it being September-October and my viva being only 6 weeks after submission. The majority of the jobs I applied for came up after I had passed my viva. These were a mixture of hourly, fixed-term and permanent positions – the latter I didn’t hold out much hope for, but was advised to apply for everything, as I think many of us are. This is good advice in some ways, as it gives you a lot of practice at writing applications, but unless you’re a really exceptional candidate (as in, book contract in place as soon as the PhD is done, lots of publications, lots of teaching experience, and probably some other x-factor too) these permanent positions seem to go to people a little further along the career road, and so applying for them at the stage immediately post-viva adds a healthy dollop onto an already weighty pile of rejections. I don’t know what the best route is, in that case – but I have to say that I really did hone my application-writing skills over the many applications I submitted.

All in all, I submitted 37 applications to 18 different institutions. Four of these were academic skills positions; the rest were in subdivisions of Classics. Three of the jobs were research-only; the rest were solely or primarily teaching, with one or two 50/50 exceptions. For 32 of the jobs, I was rejected at the first stage, prior to shortlisting.

Before talking about the other five, a word on those rejections. Writing it out, 32 doesn’t seem like many. It felt like A LOT. Some rejections hurt more than others – ones at institutions where I knew colleagues, ones where the job description seemed to perfectly fit my skills – basically, ones that I let myself get my heart set on. This sucks, but if you’re an emotionally-focused and future-imagining person like me, it’s unavoidable. I’m lucky that I’m also good at picking myself up and dusting myself off. Still, some of those rejections were firmly drowned in wine and chocolate. It also didn’t help that it was (what felt like) a long time – 6ish months) – of applying and rejecting before I started getting any shortlistings. I know a lot of people go a lot longer, and my heart goes out to them.

It was just at the point of the year when I was starting to get really antsy about the coming year’s financial (and, let’s face it, psychological) situation when I started getting some shortlistings. I passed the first round of the Leverhulme ECR applications, which was a whole thing. I was shortlisted for two academic skills posts – both were two hours commute by car from my home, one 3 days a week, one full time. I interviewed for both within one week of each other, thought I gave a great performance at one and a pretty good performance at the other, and was offered neither. I wasn’t heartbroken about this in terms of the jobs themselves – I’d applied for them because I believed I had the skills, they paid well, and I really needed a job this year – but the double blow and the ‘back to square one’ feeling hit harder than I was expecting, along with a fresh dose of financial anxiety (and the fact that one of them never paid me my travel expenses claim). A couple of weeks later, I got rejected at the final stage for the Leverhulme. This one hit really hard, particularly because of the long and laborious application process, but also because of how much I love my post-doctoral project idea – I think it’s really great, and I’m still pursuing it. The only good thing was that these rejections all come out at the same time, so there were plenty of people to commiserate with on twitter.

Another couple of weeks passed, and then I received two invites to interview in one week – for my job at the OU, and another job. The OU gave me about four weeks until the interview, which was great – I felt I had plenty of time to prepare, and was able to arrange a mock interview at the UCL careers service. For the other job, I had around a week, which I understand is very common. This meant I’d be doing the interview the day after I arrived back around 11pm from a conference in Poland. I didn’t hold out a whole lot of hope because of this, and because of the nature of the activity I had to prepare for the interview – the job was firmly weighted towards Greek History, and I have more literary knowledge. I went, I interviewed, I wasn’t offered the position. It went to a colleague, who I couldn’t be happier for.

I went into my OU interview relaxed and reasonably confident. I felt I’d prepared well – the mock interview was really helpful, and highlighted some areas that I hadn’t fully realised were weaknesses in my interview style. I’d really recommend this sort of service if it’s available to you. I also felt better having had three academic interviews already, including one in Classics, because I felt I had a better sense of the things I might be asked, and therefore a clearer idea of what sort of research to do. I also really, really wanted the job, primarily because I loved the job description and the OU’s mission, but also because I wouldn’t have to relocate. I interviewed and felt it went well – I came out with the sense that if I wasn’t offered the position, it would be because they were looking for something different from what I was offering, not because I hadn’t given a good account of myself (as I felt was the case at the first Classics interview). Clearly they were looking for someone like me, and I got the job.

I’m very aware that this isn’t the end of my job application journey, but I’ve got a little breathing room until I need to start the push again. I’ve taken some valuable lessons from this first round, which I’ll summarise:

  • Do try to get as much experience writing applications as you can. I never got feedback on any of my applications from colleagues, at least not to a great extent, but this is a good thing you can do if it’s possible for you. But as with anything, the more you write them, the better they get.
  • Continue doing CV-enhancing things while you’re on the market. Your CV can be improving all the time, and it helps to break up the seek-apply-seek-apply monotony.
  • Give yourself room to breathe, especially after rejections. Just be as good to yourself as you can – this is a really hard thing to do.
  • If you don’t get shortlisted for the ‘perfect job’, the world will not end. There will be other perfect jobs, I promise. (It’s also a little trite, but if you don’t get it, it’s not your perfect job, is it?)
  • Take advantage of any interview preparation services you can if you do get shortlisted. I can’t stress how invaluable this was to me, especially in highlighting things like…
  • If you feel like you don’t have direct experience of something, find indirect experience, or extrapolate from other experiences. In any case, find a positive response to the question – I was a devil for: ‘what’s your experience with x?’ ‘I don’t really have any, but…’ That’s not something an interviewer really wants to hear.
  • Let your personality shine through at all stages. If you write that you’re friendly and collegial, be friendly and collegial at interview.

There is also plenty to be said about deciding if and when it’s the right time to leave academia and pursue something else, but those issues have been covered much more meaningfully than I can right now. All I’ll say is that there’s nothing wrong with deciding not to do all this. It’s a lot, to be sure. Everyone has a path to go down, and if it feels wrong, it might just be.

I hope that some of this might help someone on the academic job market for the first time. If you have any questions about any of this, or related issues, please tweet me or comment here – I’m happy to impart whatever tiny grains of knowledge I might have. And finally, here’s to all those on the job market – may your fortitude be maintained, your applications be brilliant, and your wine glass be full.

Academic new year

Academic new year

My academic new year’s day is going to be this coming Monday, 18th September. It’s a particularly exciting one this year, as it’ll also be my first day under contract (though not actually on site) in my new job at the Open University. This is not only my first academic position (yay!) but my first salaried job ever (double yay!) – and also the first year of my life since I was four when I won’t be some kind of student. That’s weird. I guess that after 22 years of education, I’m a real person now.

I’ve seen several colleagues on Twitter making resolutions for the new academic year. I love a resolution – people are often glib about making resolutions at (calendar) new year, saying that it’s an arbitrary time to make changes, but I think an arbitrary time is better than no time at all. Of course, the beginning of a new teaching session, and a new job, isn’t arbitrary at all. So, some resolutions or goals for the coming academic year:

  • Learn lots about distance teaching and learning technologies – This is a bit un-quantifiable, and also pretty compulsory in my new role, but I’m excited about it nonetheless. It’s an area of experience I can really expand on, and that I’m passionate about, for the purposes of making education more accessible. (What does it say about me that in my first year when I’m not a student, the first goal I have is to learn new things?)
  • Apply for Fellowship of the HEA – I found my Associate Fellowship application a really rewarding experience, and I’m keen to progress further and reflect on my own teaching practice. It’s also good for the CV, of course.
  • Sign a contract for the thesis book – This is a big one. It’s reliant on finding the right publisher, amongst other factors. I’m antsy about it, because I wanted to have it done by Christmas, but I think that was a bit too optimistic. The stretch goal for this is to actually finish the book – there’s not an enormous amount of work to do, as far as I can see.
  • Write one/two great conference papers, and turn at least one into an article – Whether it’s one or two depends on whether I get accepted to the second conference I’ve submitted to. I have one conference confirmed for the year, and I’m excited about the paper – it’s the kind of textual-analysis-as-social-history approach that I really love and employ heavily in my thesis. It’s also something quite different from what I’ve been working on recently, though still within forensic oratory. If it comes out as well as I’m hoping it will, I think it would make a neat article. The other submission is another foray into my new ongoing project on space and place in oratory, and I really hope it gets accepted so that I have an excuse to write it.
  • Buy academic books – This may seem like a weird one, but my personal library is tiny – like two shelves on a narrow IKEA Billy bookcase tiny. This is because I’ve never had any money for books. Now I’m actually going to be being paid to be a classicist, I’m going to invest a little of that money back into my own research resources.
  • And finally, a non-career-related but still important one: stay active – In two weeks, I’m running 10km for the Race for Life. After that, and particularly through term time, I’m determined to keep exercising. This is something I’ve been terrible about for my whole life, and better about this year – but I need to keep it up, if only because I don’t want my back to go back to being in pain all the time, when it’s just starting to get better. I blame desks (no, I blame myself for being sedentary).

With these goals in mind, I’m keen to dive into the new year and make it an amazing one. I’ve never been so excited for the start of term. Happy academic new year everyone!

I graduated!

I graduated!

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-31 at 22.25.55

On Wednesday, I graduated from UCL with my PhD! This felt weirdly ceremonial and unreal, particularly as I officially received my degree at the end of February and got my certificate in the post several months ago. Also, because UCL is massive, they don’t even read out the title of your thesis; when I graduated from Royal Holloway with my BA, I remember the one PhD student graduating getting a brief description of her research read aloud. As it was, I was in the middle of a parade of maybe 25 Arts and Humanities PhDs, and not even next to my colleagues, who were classified under C for Classics while I was under G for Greek. I chose bad shoes, which were hurting already by the time I had to walk across the stage, and I was convinced I’d fall/lose a shoe/limp. But in spite of all that, it was a pretty wonderful day. My parents and friends whooped for me as I crossed the stage (as was encouraged by the Vice-Provost); my mum said afterwards she was about to cry, but turned it into a cheer. My Nanny, well into her 80s, was there along with my parents and my partner – I know it’s a cliché, but I really couldn’t have done it without all their support. In that spirit, I’ll close this brief post by reproducing my thesis acknowledgements – it’s strange to think it’s really, officially finished, but I’m excited for all the next steps.

Acknowledgements

First and foremost, my thanks go to my supervisor Chris Carey, who has been an unfailing guide as I wrote this thesis. When I began, I hardly knew where I was going with it, and it would not have grown into the shape that it did without our discussions and good-natured arguments. I also thank the staff of the Greek and Latin Department at UCL for their support and the opportunities they have offered me; particular thanks go to Peter Agocs, David Alabaster, Dimitra Kokkini, and Antony Makrinos.

            Spending three months working at Yale University was a great privilege, which could not have occurred without the support of the Yale UCL Collaborative Exchange Programme and the UCL Doctoral School. I am very grateful to Victor Bers for his warm welcome, insightful comments, and continued support. My thanks also go to the graduate students of the Yale Department of Classics for making me feel so welcome, particularly Rachel Love and Jennifer Weintritt, and Bryant Kirkland for allowing me to speak at the Work-in-Progress seminar. I am also grateful to Adriaan Lanni for meeting with me while I was in America, and for her supportive and constructive comments.

For advising on the workings of the modern UK legal system and providing the highest level of specialist knowledge, my thanks go to John Lafferty. My proofreaders were invaluable: David Bullen, Emily Chow-Kambitsch, Joe Dodd, Tzu-I Liao, Rebecca Payne, and Andreas Serafim, who together caught my very glaring and amusing typos and offered helpful comments and essential moral support. I am also grateful for the support of my other colleagues and former colleagues in the department at UCL: Manuela dal Borgo, Emma Cole, Manuela Irarrazabal Elliott, Ioannis Lambrou, Victoria McVicar, and Oliver Schwazer, who have made my time at UCL so enjoyable and the process of writing the PhD far less daunting. And thanks to my friends – Hattie Kassner, Laura Sowman, and Kat Thompson – who have been there through thick and thin.

I really could not have done any of this without the support of my family: my Mum and Dad, Susan and David, who have supported me in every sense of the word at every stage of the process, and who I cannot thank enough for letting me pursue my dream. Thanks to my grandparents, who may not have always understood why I was doing it, but were always proud of me anyway. A special mention should go to Dada, who would have loved all of this Greek. This thesis is dedicated to my Grannie – here’s one for the boasting book.

Above all, thanks to Alex Burnett, who has seen me through the toughest times and brought me out of them laughing. Thank you for writing the soundtrack to this project, and to my life.

Project planning

Project planning

I have a confession: I’m a terrible project planner.

Or I have been up until this point, at least in formalised terms. I’m a very organised person – I tend to know what needs to be done and when, but the information is all held in my head, combine with some skeletal to-do lists in the form of things to do this week, this month, and this year. These lists were managed in Evernote, which as an app is basically fine, except that I never learned to use any of the features beyond making checklists and notebooks, and is really a better notetaking app than a planning one. Besides that, I tend to just think about what needs to be done in the next month or so, and then… do it.

Somehow, in spite of this aversion to Gantt charts, bullet journals, Trello, and the other tools of the project planning trade, I managed to write a PhD, while working various part time jobs, in just over three years. That sounds like a brag, but really I’m trying to say that I think this was a fluke – and, in fact, I know there are some areas of my thesis that would have greatly benefited from more formal project planning from the beginning – not least the bibliography, which was a little bit all over the place during my final edits, and ending up lacking a couple of major sources (because I was terrible at keeping up with recent publications).

So, my new academic year’s resolution is to learn how to do project planning properly. Now is the ideal time, as I’m embarking on the first section of my career where I’ll be juggling numerous ‘projects’ at once: teaching work, my new research project on Space and Place in the Attic Orators (more on that in another post), and (hopefully!) my thesis book. All this on top of the daily projects of life, like keeping my house from running into complete disarray, trying to keep up some reading for pleasure, and trying not to be so terrible at running.

Today I embarked on the first two steps of this journey, and signed up to Asana and Mendeley. I like Asana already, despite the fact that it’s really designed for team work rather than solo projects. The lists of sections and tasks and sub-tasks appeal to my tickbox-oriented mind, and it was satisfying to lay out deadlines for a whole project over the next three years. I’ve set up some home tasks to be completed over the weekend, so I’m hoping that’ll give me a chance to actually test the functionality (of the phone app, as well as the programme more generally). If anyone has any tips on how to use it successfully for this kind of planning, I’d love to hear them – please tweet me @chrissieplastow.

Mendeley I’m not so certain about. I have a vague idea of how the interface works, but little to test it out on properly yet. It doesn’t strike me as particularly intuitive, and the layout is rather Windows Explorer-esque, which makes me less inclined to use it for some reason. Still, I’ll give it a chance in the initial stages of my new project, and see how it works in practice. Again, if anyone has any tips, or any other reference management software recommendations, let me know.

I expect that I’ll continue using Evernote, as I do like the system, but that I’ll transition to using it more for actual note-taking on sources etc than for planning. I’m also a devil for failing to keep all of my analytical notes in one place, so there’s another hurdle to jump there.

(Perhaps a note on why I’m doing all of this digitally – I love the aesthetic of bullet journals and handwritten notes in moleskine notebooks, and my ideas do tend to flow more freely on paper – all of my structural planning is done that way first, and then transferred to digital means. Unfortunately I don’t have the creative inclination to set up a bullet journal successfully, much as I’d like to. But the more pressing issue is how heavy all of those notebooks are to carry around. My laptop is a reasonably cheap thing, and therefore much heavier than the Macbooks and similar used by many of my colleagues. As a result, I try not to carry too much additional weight alongside it in my bag – especially as I gave myself back problems in the first year of my PhD, essentially by being too sedentary – so physical notebooks just aren’t the best option.)

I’m excited about taking control of this kind of planning and doing it the ‘proper’* way. Hopefully it’ll result in several successful end products. Onto the brave new frontier of not winging it!

*there’s no ‘proper’ way to plan; it’s ok to do whatever works for you!

Conference summer (plus bonus job news)

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!

Why have a website? Why have a blog? (A first post)

Why have a website? Why have a blog? (A first post)

Hello! On this momentous occasion of my first blog post on my new personal website, I thought I’d share a few reflections on why I have a website at all, and what this blog might consist of.

My primary reason for having a personal website is to have a space for my professional presence online – and a space that’s my own, rather than governed by academia.edu. Several colleagues on Twitter have discussed moving off the platform recently, for reasons that I have to agree with – namely, the lack of open access. I’m strongly in favour of open access publishing where possible, and although I’m early on in my career, I’m looking to start out the right way.

Connected to this, blogging is a nice way of informally sharing the research I’m doing. I’m in the beginning stages of a new research project, leading out of my PhD, which looked at Athenian homicide rhetoric in context. Now, I want to examine how spaces and places figure in all kinds of rhetoric in Athens. I’ll be exploring some of my initial thoughts here, as a way of cataloguing my progress as well as sharing my work with the world.

I also hope that another aspect of the blog might be geared towards holding myself accountable to running. I started exercising regularly at the beginning of 2017 for the first time (more on this in a later post); I started running about 8 weeks ago, having always hated it. This is something I’ll go into more detail about in future posts, but I’m finding the journey interesting if challenging, and am hopeful that writing about it will make that challenge a positive one.

Thirdly, I’d like to use this blog as a place to share aspects of my general everyday life, and particularly my culinary life. I’m a keen but broke home chef; I cook a meal from scratch most nights. I don’t think this is all that unusual, but I’ve heard differently. I like experimenting with recipes, and sharing them when they work out well, so that’s something you can expect here too.

I’ll file all of this as best I can, so those of you interested in my research don’t have to trawl through posts about how I make chilli con carne! 

I’m looking forward to seeing how this website project grows, develops, and changes. Thanks for reading!