Statement of Solidarity: UK Classics representative bodies deplore attacks on Arts and Humanities across Higher Education institutions
As a united group comprising Chairs and Presidents of the primary representative bodies for Classics professionals in the UK – the Council of University Classical Departments, the Classical Association, the Institute of Classical Studies, the Women’s Classical Committee UK, the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, and the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies – we wish to express our solidarity with all those affected by the deeply worrying programme of closures and redundancies in the Arts and Humanities announced this month across institutions, including Bishop Grosseteste, De Montfort, Dundee, Roehampton, and Wolverhampton.
As institutions working in Classics, we deplore, and are angry at, attacks on Classics at Roehampton. The University’s decision to close Classics comes only months after a celebration of 21 years of Classics at Roehampton – two decades of pioneering research and teaching. The University’s research culture has historically stressed and rewarded the production of high-quality academic publications, and many areas of its School of Humanities and Social Sciences have been strong in this regard, notably Classics, which has led the way in terms of the institutional aims around practical humanities, applied research and innovation.
Classics at Roehampton has been at the forefront of world-leading research in feminist and disability studies in Classics, and its closure would be damaging to the discipline as a whole. Roehampton has also been exemplary in creating teaching practices for neurodivergent students in Classics, and the loss of this Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion work sets back efforts in this area, which are of incalculable value to all students. Indeed, major publications are forthcoming from Roehampton Classicists around their projects on Classics and autistic children, involving partners such as English Heritage, Keats House, and Pupil Referral Units. Other important, ongoing, collaborations include the Acropolis Museum, Athens, and Heritage of London’s ‘Proud Places’; these are precisely the kinds of projects and partnerships through which Classics at Roehampton has fantastic potential to develop its already highly successful practical and employability training for students.
Classics at Roehampton, since its inception, has championed employability; as a team it earned the Roehampton Teaching Fellowship for embedding employability into the classical programme, and its research and teaching staff have published around pedagogy and employability in Classics in high quality, peer-reviewed journals and held sessions on student employability at major national and international conferences. This work has blazed a trail, and has directly and positively impacted on the development of comparable initiatives at other institutions. Classics at Roehampton is in fact at the forefront of moving the subject, and by extension the institution, towards practical focused and employability training with potential for exceptional Graduate Outcomes.
More broadly, the effects that these cuts would have on access to Higher Educationare potentially devastating. Classics and Ancient History in particular are far too often considered the preserve of Russell Group institutions with Classics or Greek & Latin departments, whose entrance criteria and history of systemic under-privileging of first-generation students, BAME students, and state-school-educated students are well-known; Roehampton Classics colleagues have in fact been instrumental in working with colleagues in such departments to make headway in terms of inclusion. Classics at Roehampton bucks this entry trend and is already significantly boosting and broadening access to these subjects: Roehampton’s Classics courses were ranked fifth in the UK in the 2020 Guardian league table, one of only two non-Russell Group universities in the top ten for the subject, with exceptionally high scores for teaching satisfaction (96%), on a par with Durham and St. Andrews. In the most recent NSS survey, Classics received a score of 100%, showing colleagues’ outstanding level of successful teaching.
Roehampton has great experience in teaching students who have had little previous formal education in Classics, and who have entered university from less privileged backgrounds. Many of them are the first in their family to go to university. Roehampton Classics is a partner in a growing number of non-RG institutions offering this subject to diverse student bodies, the Post92Classics Network, who are collectively at the heart of invigorating the shape of the discipline for future generations in a changing world; indeed Roehampton Classics is very much a leading light in this regard.
As with Arts and Humanities subjects more broadly, Classics encourages and develops appreciation of cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, while broadening students’ horizons to a global range of philosophical and intellectual outlooks that have influenced modern thought; it teaches critical thinking and analysis of complex source material in a range of languages, and requires students to view humanity through a critical lens, with empathy. Classics in such educational contexts has the transformative power to engage students in discussion around a wide range of cultures, religions, ethnicities, genders, sexualities and disabilities, across huge spans of space and time. These are not soft skills, nor are they fringe topics. They are vital skills and perspectives for modern life, and indeed the cornerstone of good training both for social and civic participation, and for employability.
Studying the Arts and Humanities can be transformative for students: over their time at Roehampton, students expand their cultural horizons, and build their employable and creative skills. Further, they become active, empowered citizens. The University’s stated rationale for its decision to close these subjects is in fact at odds with the likely outcome of this action. The University’s objective in terms of sustainability of programmes in growing fields, especially those with emerging markets of future economy and society, is one which Classics is extremely well positioned to achieve and at which to excel. There is potential here for multidisciplinary work to develop and further embed employability into its teaching, as evidenced by recent programme revalidations, particularly in areas of institutional strategic importance such as Roehampton’s BA in Liberal Arts and its MAs in Cultural Heritage and Environmental Studies.
The loss of any Classics provision will undoubtedly hurt the Classics community as a whole, but the loss of Roehampton in particular would diminish our field, and its potential loss is symptomatic of the damage caused by competition for its own sake, that has been actively encouraged by successive governments. Higher Education departments need time, space, collaboration and long-term team-building to provide an excellent education and student experience. Roehampton Classics has built up such a team and collaborations both national and international, including for example major international AHRC, ERC, DFG, Loeb Foundation and Leverhulme Trust grants. The loss of Classics at Roehampton would leave a massive hole. University management and government higher education policy are together destroying a long-cherished site, like Erysichthon cutting down the grove of Demeter. Such willful destruction of Arts and Humanities in UK Higher Education cannot be allowed to stand.
CUCD, Council of University Classics Departments, Chair: Prof Helen Lovatt
WCC UK, Women’s Classical Committee UK, Co-Chairs: Dr April Pudsey & Dr Ulriika Vihervalli, Administrator: Prof Laurence Totelin
ICS, Institute of Classical Studies, Director: Prof Katherine Harloe
SPHS, Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, President: Prof Paul Cartledge
SPRS, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, President: Prof Roy Gibson
CA, Classical Association, Chair of Council: Prof Douglas Cairns
Following the second call for nominations to the Steering Committee, we were delighted to welcome two nominees, Dr Elena Giusti and Dr Stephe Harrop. As no other nominees were able to stand for election, the election has been considered uncontested.
We are delighted to welcome Dr Giusti and Dr Harrop to their new roles as members of the Steering Committee, and to share Dr Giusti’s CV and electoral statement, and Dr Harrop’s CV and electoral statement. We look forward to their valuable contribution to the ongoing work of the WCC UK!
We would also like to thank Dr Laurence Totelin and Dr Ellie Mackin Roberts, for four years of outstanding service as members of the Steering Committee. Dr Totelin and Dr Mackin Roberts are standing down following the 2022 AGM, after which Dr Giusti and Dr Harrop will officially assume their position as our newest Steering Committee members.
Once again, many thanks to our outgoing and incoming SC members!
Appointment of the WCC UK’s Administrator 2022-2027
We are delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Laurence Totelin to the position of Administrator. Dr Totelin will be taking over the role following the end of Dr Liz Gloyn’s tenure as the WCC UK’s first Administrator.
The WCC UK would like to offer our deepest thanks to Dr Gloyn for her instrumental role in the founding and development of the committee, and we look forward to her ongoing contributions and involvement.
Dr Totelin has been a central member of the Steering Committee since 2018, and we are delighted to welcome her to her new position as Administrator.
WCC UK are delighted to be collaborating with the Institute of Classical Studies, the Journal of Hellenic Studies, the Journal of Roman Studies and Britannia on this event about publishing articles in these journals. The workshop will take place on Friday 6th May at 10am-12pm.
This online event, hosted by the ICS and WCC-UK, is intended to demystify the process of submitting an article to some of the leading Classical Studies journals. The Editors of the Journal of Hellenic Studies (Lin Foxhall), Britannia (Will Bowden), and the Journal of Roman Studies (Peter Thonemann) will speak about the kinds of things they are looking for in submissions, the peer review process, and ways of maximising your chances of a successful submission. As well as providing a forum for the editors to speak and answer questions about their journals, the event will also be an opportunity for the Journal Editors to get feedback from the subject community about their journals and their image, and to better understand some of the challenges or barriers that potential contributors feel they face.
The event is targeted particularly at women, non-binary people and people of other marginalised genders, and early career researchers, though others are of course most welcome to attend.
Elizabeth Schafer is Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at Royal Holloway. Her work focuses on Shakespeare in production; women’s theatre work; Australian drama and theatre; and Caroline playwright Richard Brome. In this guest post, she pays tribute to her secondary school teacher and the influence that she had on Prof. Schafer’s own personal and professional journey.
Elizabeth Warren, who died late last year, was an extraordinary Woman in Classics, with a particular passion for teaching Greek. From 1969 onwards, Elizabeth taught Greek, Latin, Ancient History and Classical Civilisation in a wide range of educational contexts including Bristol University and the Joint Association of Classical Teachers (JACT) Greek summer courses at Bryanston school, Blandford Forum.
I first met Elizabeth when she joined the staff of King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham, in the mid 1970s. She looked like no other teacher I’d ever met: tall, willowy, with Pre-Raphaelite yellow hair and phenomenal reserves of energy. As my Latin and Greek teacher she helped me navigate Catullus, Virgil, Livy, Homer and Thucydides, but she was also my form teacher for one year, concerned and supportive – often with a twinkle in her eye – as 24 teenagers over-shared their problems. Meanwhile in Latin classes she tactfully steered discussions of Catullus’ poetry, sensitive to her pupils’ different levels of worldly experience, and understanding. She led us through the newly introduced Cambridge Latin course, collapsing with laughter at the howls of protests that erupted when we found out that the irritating Quintus had survived the eruption of Vesuvius, along with boring Grumio, when clearly poor Melissa should have been the one to escape.
Elizabeth’s confidence that girls could achieve what they wanted intellectually was inspirational. Setbacks became challenges, mistakes became learning. She told memorable stories of her solo travel adventures; one came back to me as, around 35 years ago, I was interrailing around Europe and my (very slow) train stopped at Trasimeno. Elizabeth had enlivened Livy’s account of the battle of Lake Trasimeno by telling us how she had once, in her enthusiasm for seeing the site of the battle, jumped off the train at Trasimeno and set off to explore. What she found was very little lake, squadrons of mosquitoes and that there wasn’t another train for days.
My entire class was also convinced that when Elizabeth, aged 20, had married Peter Warren, a research fellow at Corpus Christi, in 1966, they had eloped to Gretna Green. So when Elizabeth brought Peter into school to deliver a sixth form general knowledge lecture on archaeology, there was great interest in seeing this romantic figure. I was entrusted with Peter’s slides, stacked neatly in a carousel. I promptly dropped the lot (I still feel mortified about this). Peter and Elizabeth were totally unfazed and years later when I read Elizabeth’s ‘Memories of Myrtos’ in Aegean Archaeology, I realised why. Archaeologists are used to dealing with stuff scattered all over the floor. What really impressed me, however, as Peter lectured from his unpredictably sequenced slides, illustrating Early Bronze Age Crete and the discovery of the Goddess of Myrtos, was his emphasis on how pivotal Elizabeth had been to the success of the excavations during the two seasons in 1967 and 1968. She managed food and accommodation with no electricity, drains, rubbish collection, or tarmac in 44 degrees centigrade. She also helped carry out study seasons after the excavations had finished, drawing and tracing vases and small objects for subsequent publications.
Elizabeth instilled a passion for the Classics in me, and I continued with Latin as part of my London University English degree, taking an option in the Classical Background to English Literature which included translating a significant amount of Senenca’s Medea. I lectured on Greek tragedy at La Trobe University and I put Greek drama on the first year core Drama course at Royal Holloway. I love working with the APGRD, and all that Seneca paid off when I was researching Elizabeth Cary and her neo-classical dramaturgy.
Although some of Elizabeth’s achievements were conventional – mayor for five years and deputy mayor for two – Elizabeth’s kind of brilliance, her ability to engage, interest and inspire students was of the sort that can easily be undervalued. When she left KEHS, her then form missed her so much that they hired a bus to go and see her (the catering experience in Myrtos probably came in handy that day). But for me, the most telling tribute to her came from a friend and class mate, Susan Clarke, who was no Classicist and who was ready to drop Latin as soon as she could:
For someone who was really only good at maths and science I remember her lessons being a safe and comfortable place and her making Latin a fun subject.
The Women’s Classical Committee UK is pleased to announce its 2022 Annual General Meeting, ‘Activism‘, on Friday 29th April 2022. The AGM will be held via Zoom: please register for the event on Eventbrite and you will be sent details of how to join the meeting.
People of any gender expression or identity who support the WCC UK’s aims are welcome to attend this event. Further details are available here. Around the website you can also find more information on the Women’s Classical Committee UK, including our aims and activities and how to join.
9.15am: Room opens; welcome and housekeeping.
9.30am: Business meeting
10.30am: Coffee break
11am: Keynote round table on meaningful activism.
The panel will include participants from Trans in Classics, London Classicists of Colour, the Network for Working Class Classicists, WCC US, and Asterion.
1pm: Spotlight talks
Efi Spentzou – The Myth and Voice Initiative
Cheryl Morgan – Trans Men in Labour
Kirsty Harrod – Approaching A Theory of Rape Narratives in Greek Tragedy
1.50pm: Screen break
2pm: Break-out discussion rooms on the theme of activism. Each group will be given the same prompts to begin discussion.
3pm: Wrap-up and close
Spotlight talks – call for papers – deadline passed
We are reserving time during the day’s schedule for a series of short (five-minute) spotlight talks by delegates. Through this session, we hope to provide a chance for delegates to share projects, experiences or research connected to the WCC UK’s aims. We are particularly interested in talks that address the AGM’s theme of activism; that highlight new, feminist, intersectional and gender-informed work in Classics, ancient history, classical reception or pedagogy (inside and outside the university sector); and that feature new work by postgraduate students and early career researchers. If you would like more information or to volunteer to give one of these talks, please e-mail Liz Gloyn (liz.gloyn at rhul.ac.uk). The deadline for expressing interest was noon on Thursday 14th April.
Please feel free to pass on this CFP to anyone you think may be interested in participating or saving the date.
The Women’s Classical Committee UK is committed to making our events as inclusive as possible, and recognises that the financial and practical challenges of childcare often impede people from participating in workshops and conferences. Anyone who needs to bring a dependent child or children with them in order to participate in one of our events is usually welcome to do so, but we ask you to inform us of this in advance so that we can take them into account in our event planning and risk assessment. The safety and well-being of any children brought to our events remain at all times the responsibility of the parent or carer. While we do our best to ensure that rest and changing facilities are available for those who may need them, this will depend on the individual venue we are using. Again, please contact us in advance to discuss your needs, and we will do our best to accommodate them.
The WCC UK conference graduate mentoring scheme will run for the third time at this year’s Classical Association Conference in Swansea, 8th-11th April 2022 (postponed from 2020). This scheme matches mentors and mentees for a one-off mentoring meeting during the conference. Mentees should be enrolled on an MA or PhD course at any stage from registration to post-viva final submission; mentors should consider themselves mid-late career. We would particularly like to encourage senior staff members (Senior Lecturers/Readers/Associate Professors/Professors) to sign up as mentors. Both mentors and mentees can sign up using the same form here. Applications close at midnight on Monday 21st March 2022. Pairs will be put in touch by Friday 25th March 2022. People need not be attending the conference in person to participate in this scheme. Virtual meetups can also be facilitated.
To access this, you should be a member of the WCC UK in good standing; please see the Membership Page for details.
We are delighted that the WCC UK will be well-represented at the upcoming Classical Association conference in Swansea and on-line. As well as two panels, we also intend to run our mentoring scheme for members – stay tuned for more details!
Saturday 9th April 11.30am-1pm – Session 2, Panel 5
This workshop has been organised by Victoria Leonard, Anna Judson, Katie Shields and Kate Cook on behalf of the WCC UK, and represents the continuing activity of the #WCCWiki project.
Following the success of #WCCWiki’s workshop at the FIEC/Classical Association in 2019, the Women’s Classical Committee (UK) will hold a Wikipedia editathon at the CA in 2022 to improve the online representation of classicists who identify as women or non-binary. Classicists are broadly conceived, to include archaeologists, ancient historians, religious studies experts, theorists, and art historians, and others who work on the ancient world.
The workshop seeks to improve the representation of classicists who identify as women or non-binary on Wikipedia, with a particular focus on overlooked Welsh women or non-binary classicists, such as Kathleen Freeman, Käthe Bosse-Griffiths, Jacqui Mulville and Juliette Wood, or those whose research focuses on Wales’s culture and history, such as Catherine Clarke. Of those six women historians who are Fellows of the Learned Society of Wales, an important notability criterion for Wikipedia, five need their pages improving and one lacks a page entirely. The workshop will be an important starting point to addressing this imbalance and promoting the online visibility of Welsh classicists (broadly conceived) who identify as women or non-binary.
The workshop welcomes people of all genders, and it is aimed at those who have never edited Wikipedia before, as well as more experienced contributors. Training will be provided for the first 30 minutes, followed by a supported editing session.
This panel has been organised by Ellie Mackin Roberts, Claire Stocks, Penny Coombe and Thea Lawrence on behalf of the WCC UK and in conjunction with Assemblywomen: The Video-Journal of the WCC UK.
This panel seeks to investigate the ways that women and girls (broadly defined) were politicised in the Greek and Roman worlds. Politicisation, whether imposed internally or externally, is a lens through which we can interrogate the lives of women in a world that is patriarchal and socially constructed. Women’s lives are not simply about the production of new generations of citizens, but they are integral to the political, economic, and social fabric of the ancient past. By looking at several cases from Greece and Rome the papers of this panel will trace the lives of distinct women, and then men and societies that frame them as political.
Elena Duce Pastor (Universidad de Zaragoza) – Peisistratos and the politicisation of marriage
Briana King (University of St Andrews)- “Brides of Disaster”: Homeric Heroines and the Ideology of Male Victory
Laura Fontana (Università degli Studi di Milano) – Politicising matrons’ mourning in the early Roman Republic
Caitlin C. Gillespie (Brandeis University) – Death Becomes Her: Poppaea Sabina’s Political Beauty
Applications are now open for the post of Administrator of the WCC UK. The Administrator is responsible for overseeing the administrative aspects of running the WCC UK for the duration of their five year term of service. The current post-holder, Dr. Liz Gloyn, will step down at the next AGM, which will be held on 29th April 2022, and the new Administrator will take up the post then.
According to the WCC UK Rules, “elections are to be held where possible, and nominations by the Steering Committee are to be approved where there is only one candidate” for the Administrator post. To that end, the current WCC UK co-chairs, Dr. Laurence Totelin and Dr. April Pudsey, invite those interested in the post to get in touch by Monday 7th March 2022. Please send a short CV and a one page statement of interest to womensclassicalcommittee @ gmail.com.
Click below the cut to see a detailed role description of what the Administrator currently does. Dr. Gloyn estimates that this work takes about an hour a week, with crunch points of increased workload around the two Steering Committee meetings and the Annual General Meeting. She is happy to discuss the post with interested parties; please e-mail her directly at liz.gloyn at rhul.ac.uk.
We would like to circulate a second callfor nominees to run for election for the Steering Committee of the Women’s Classical Committee UK. The Steering Committee runs the WCC UK, including organizing events, workshops, and future development of the WCC UK. Two new Committee members will be elected by the membership, and will serve for four years, with the option to run for re-election for a further four year term. The Steering Committee wishes to encourage a diverse organization comprised of representatives from any background, location, or career level.
In addition to nominations of others, we also strongly encourage members to nominate themselves if they are interested in the roles. Nominees must be members of the WCC UK in good standing (please check with Christine Plastow at christine.plastow[at]open.ac.uk) if you are unsure of your membership status). Names of nominees should be submitted to Thea Lawrence, the Elections Officer, at TLawrence[at]lincoln.ac.uk, by Friday 21st January 2022.
Nominations are being solicited for joining the Steering Committee of the Women’s Classical Committee UK. The Steering Committee runs the WCC UK, including organizing events, workshops, and future development of the WCC UK. Two new Committee members will be elected by the membership, and will serve for four years, with the option to run for re-election for a further four year term. The Steering Committee wishes to encourage a diverse organization comprised of representatives from any background, location, or career level.
In addition to nominations of others, we also strongly encourage members to nominate themselves if they are interested in the roles. Nominees must be members of the WCC UK in good standing (please check with Christine Plastow at christine.plastow[at]open.ac.uk) if you are unsure of your membership status). Names of nominees should be submitted to Thea Lawrence, the Elections Officer, at TLawrence[at]lincoln.ac.uk, by Friday 14th January 2022.
The Elections Officer will contact nominees for permission to place their candidacy on the ticket. The Elections Officer will require a short CV (1 page) and an election statement from each nominee. These will be made available on the WCC UK website for members to review prior to voting. For previous examples of such materials, see here.
Voting will open on Monday 31st January and run until Monday the 28th February 2022. The elected members will be announced shortly afterwards, and then assume office at the AGM in April. If you have any questions about the Steering Committee or the process of elections, please e-mail us at womensclassicalcommittee[at]gmail.com