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)

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 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!