Positions available on the WCC UK Steering Committee (Second call)


Dear WCC UK members and supporters,

We would like to circulate a second call for 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 Monday 1st February 2021. 

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 8th February and run until Monday the 1st of March 2021. 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 atwomensclassicalcommittee[at].gmail.com

Assemblywomen: Video-journal of the Women’s Classical Committee (UK) Call for co-editors


Assemblywomen is the new video-journal of the Women’s Classical Committee, which is to be hosted on the WCC’s YouTube channel. It will provide an online, open-access platform to disseminate research about women and gender in the ancient world (broadly conceived, including receptions of women in the ancient world). The aim of the journal is to promote new research, presented in an innovative way, that will appeal to both scholars and the general public.

The WCC is currently seeking two co-editors to join the editorial team alongside editor-in-chief Dr Ellie Mackin Roberts. Together, the editorial team will be responsible for soliciting pitches (though regular calls and direct contact), reading and responding to pitches, assisting in development of ideas, organising peer-review for video essay scripts, organising captioning of finished videos, providing advice and assistance to video editing (where appropriate), and promoting the journal. Co-editors coming on board at this stage will be instrumental in determining the direction of the journal.

Candidates should have or be working towards a PhD in classics, ancient history, or a cognate discipline and have a research interest in women and/or gender, and an interest in promoting and upholding the aims of the WCC. All other things being equal, preference will be given to WCC members. Please refer to the role description below.


About the Journal

Assemblywomen is an innovative avenue for the dissemination of research on women and gender in the ancient world published by the Women’s Classical Committee UK. The journal publishes both ‘pre-print’ and peer-reviewed work in video format on YouTube. All content is therefore open access, and available to be used in a variety of settings including in the classroom. It will present current scholarly research in an engaging and accessible way, and is therefore suitable not only for professional scholars, but also for undergraduates and a general audience. The journal presents one issue per year, with content published on a rolling basis, as soon as possible following acceptance.

The video-journal will accept three types of submission:

1. Video Essays. These are 10-20 minute video essays, the scripts of which will have been peer reviewed prior to filming and publication on the site

2. ‘Work-in-Progress Shorts’. These will be 5-15 minute videos of work in progress, these are conceived as less formal as video essays and provide an opportunity for ‘pre-print’ sharing of ideas and conversations

3. Responses, these may either be to video essays or work in progress shorts that have been published on the site, or to wider debates within the field and will be 5-10 minutes in length


Expressions of Interest

If you are interested in applying for one of the positions please forward a brief expression of interest of no more than one page and CV to Ellie (ellie.roberts[at]sas.ac.uk). Letters should include a short summary of your research interests, a statement of why you are interested in joining the editorial team, and any experience you think may be useful for the position. Some knowledge of video editing and/or YouTube will be an advantage but is not required. Informal inquiries can be directed to Ellie on the above email address.


Editor Role Description

  • Work with contributors, peer reviewers, and the editorial board to ensure the content of the journal reflects the breadth and depth of work on women and gender in the ancient world
  • Uphold a commitment to compassionate and constructive support for contributors throughout the pitch and review process
  • Work with contributors to refine pitches to ensure that finished videos have the highest chance of acceptance
  • Where necessary, commission contributions for individual videos and short series of videos with interconnected themes
  • Liaise with editorial team and the steering committee of the WCC to ensure the smooth running and development of the journal
  • Represent the journal at conferences and workshops where appropriate, and to develop the profile of the journal


Expressions of interest should be received by Friday February 12th, 2021.

Author Interview: Allison Surtees


This post is provided by WCC UK member Cheryl Morgan, If you are a member of the WCC UK interested in contributing to the blog on any topic, please contact womensclassicalcommittee@gmail.com.

Exploring Gender Diversity in the Ancient World (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) is a new volume of academic essays exploring the ways in which people in ancient Greece and Rome expressed genders beyond what we in the modern, Western world view as the “traditional” gender binary. Born out of a discussion panel on “Gender B(l)ending in Ancient Greek and Roman Culture and Society” held at the annual conference of the Classical Association of Canada in Toronto in 2015, this volume is the work of Classicist Allison Surtees and Jennifer Dyer, a professor of Gender Studies. In conjunction with a review of the book, the following interview with Allison Surtees took place.

Why did you choose to look at gender diversity in the ancient world?
It came out of a panel on gender bending and blending at the annual conference of the Classical Association of Canada, which I helped organise. We got several great papers, but a lot of the submissions seemed to misunderstand the topic. People were submitting papers on subjects like men playing women on stage, which might play with gender but is very different from someone who identifies as, and lives their life as, a woman. There wasn’t much understanding of gender theory. Classicists are often concerned that Classics is not relevant today, but we become relevant by reflecting the society we live in, and that society is one in which gender has become an issue. I feel that the dearth of understanding of gender issues plays out in interpersonal relations and what happens in the classroom. Even cis women have difficulty with the old boys’ club that is Classics. It must be far worse for trans people.

Your colleague, Jennifer Dyer, is a professor of gender studies. How did you come to partner with her, and how did that work out?
Jennifer and I have been friends for many years and had long wanted to work together. I knew that she was just the person I needed on board to make this book work. We had a division of labour over what types of content we addressed in editing. She looked at the gender content, and I did the Classics. It seemed to work well.

A common complaint levelled at trans history is that trans people did not exist prior to the 20th century and the invention of medical gender reassignment techniques. How did you and Jennifer tackle that issue?
People of a variety genders have always existed. Gender is a construct. All that changes is how we make space for different genders in different societies. Western people want to claim the history of the Greeks and Romans, but often they only want to claim the good parts — the arts, the philosophy and so on. To be descendants of the Classical world we have to take on the whole of that society. That includes the slavery and the rape culture, it includes the very different attitudes to sexuality, and it includes the existence of people of a variety of genders.

Trans people often invoke the maxim, “Nothing about us without us”, when dealing with academics. Were any trans people involved in writing the book?
I haven’t met many of the authors so I don’t know a lot about them. I didn’t ask whether anyone was trans. I did ask for pronouns, and everyone gave either “he” or “she”, but that doesn’t mean that none of the contributors was trans.

Almost all of the written history we have from the Classical period was produced by elite men. How does that affect our ability to understand their world?
We took some techniques from theory. In the introduction Jennifer talks about abductive reasoning, which is used a lot in Queer Theory. This allows us to ask what is the most likely explanation for the facts, which is not always that reported. We also need to be aware that much that is taken as fact in Classics has actually been interpreted from the data by old white men. There is a very famous sculpture of the god Hermaphroditus, which adorns our cover. From most angles it looks like a beautiful woman, but the person depicted also has a penis. The traditional interpretation was that the Romans would have found this shocking or laughable, but that’s just us imposing a modern, transphobic reading on the statue. There is no clear Roman source saying that’s how it was seen.

The most obvious example of trans people in Rome is the cult of the goddess, Cybele, whose followers were castrated and lived as women. The cult seems to have been hugely important, with a temple on the Palatine Hill next to the Imperial Palace. Yet their activities were distinctly un-Roman and many ancient writers seem to have despised them. Do we know how ordinary Romans viewed these people?
This question hasn’t fully been addressed, but we need to remember that the Greek and Roman cultures were not the monoliths we have generally portrayed them as. Just like today, there were many different segments of their society, and each segment will have had different attitudes. We only have the view of the elite, but that can’t have been the only view as it doesn’t explain the obvious facts.

The book also covers intersex people, who would have been much more visible in the ancient world because everyone gave birth at home. Roman society seems to have changed a lot over the years in its attitude to such people, from originally wanting them killed at birth to the point where the philosopher, Favorinus, could be a close friend of the Emperor Hadrian.
It does yes. We didn’t have space to address that much. But we don’t see this book as the final word. We hope it will push conversations forward. There are more trans people in Classics now than ever before. I look forward to seeing what work they do.

Are there any other ambitions you have for the book?
We want the book to be read by undergraduates and non-Classicists as well as academic professionals. We have tried to make it as accessible as possible. In particular, we want to push back against the way that Classics is used by white supremacists and the alt-right to justify their politics. Classics should be for everyone.


Positions available on the WCC UK Steering Committee


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 Wednesday 23th of December 2020. 

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 4th January and run until Friday the 5th of February 2021. The elected members will be announced in mid-February, and will 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

Mid-career event – Thursday 7th January


The Women’s Classical Committee UK is organising an event aimed at mid-career scholars, to be held on Thursday 7th January 2021 on Zoom. We anticipate that the event will run from 10am to 1pm; should national lockdowns or other circumstances intervene, we will liaise with registered attendees to establish the most convenient alternative timing on that day.

The Women’s Classical Committee UK run a mid-career event annually to help colleagues in open-ended employment discuss the issues and challenges that face academics, particularly women, at mid-career. Topics to be discussed may include decisions about whether and when to move institutions, questions around disciplinarity/interdisciplinarity and collaboration in research, expectations about international mobility and balancing this with family/caring duties, managing institutional expectations (which may be gendered) around types and levels of administrative service, taking on leadership positions, ways of supporting precarious colleagues, and strategies to tackle unconscious bias in the workplace. We anticipate that any discussion will inevitably include consideration of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all these issues. Those who register their intent to attend will be invited to fill in an online questionnaire, the results of which will inform the precise choice of topics for discussion sessions. We envisage that the day’s discussions will help to set priorities for resource development and future campaigns by the Women’s Classical Committee UK.

The WCC UK recognises that the term ‘mid-career’ is open to a range of interpretations, but also that different challenges face women in classics in different situations and career stages. This event is aimed primarily at women who self-define as having reached mid-career; markers of this may include being eight or more years after the award of their PhD, holding an open-ended contract, and having an established publication profile. If the event is oversubscribed then we will give priority to women in this situation, but we welcome applications to register from anyone of any gender who feels they would benefit from attending.

Registration Options

Free registration is available to all via Eventbrite; if the event reaches capacity, WCC UK members will be given priority. Donations in support of the WCC UK and its activities are welcome.

Child-friendly Policy

The Women’s Classical Committee 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. We welcome the virtual attendance of children at this event.

“How goes your lockdown publishing?” webinar series


The WCC UK is pleased to announce a series of webinars featuring classics editors from book presses and journals, who will demystify the publication process and answer questions live. This is a free pre-lunch hour webinar from 11am to noon (GMT) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (We will confer with speakers about recording their talks). This series has been organised by Manu Dal Borgo and Cressida Ryan, the WCC UK’s mentoring officers, in response to our members’ requests for more support around publishing, and to provide some support which might address concerns around women submitting less work for publication in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Register on Eventbrite here.

December Line-up:

1st (Tues)
Tim Whitmarsh
Editor: Oxford Classical Dictionary and several series for OUP and CUP

3rd (Thurs)
Alice Wright
Editor Classical Studies and Archaeology Bloomsbury Academic Publishing

8th (Tues)
Charlotte Loveridge
Commissioning Editor: Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology Oxford University Press

10th (Thurs) Panel Discussion on Journal Publication

Rosa Andújar
Associate Editor in Greek Literature
American Journal of Philology

Katherine Harloe
Joint Editor–in–Chief
International Journal of the Classical Tradition

Third speaker TBA.

15th (Tues)
Clare Litt
Senior Commissioning Editor: Classics and Medieval Studies Liverpool University Press

17th – AVAILABLE (Thurs)


Once you have registered, you will find the Zoom link by clicking on the ‘Access the event’ button on the right hand side of the Eventbrite page.

We look forward to see you there!

CUCD Equality and Diversity in Classics Report 2020


We are pleased to share the announcement that the CUCD has released their Equality and Diversity in Classics Report. The report is the final output of the CUCD Equality and Diversity Project, 2019-20. The report can be found here. The report presents and analyses the results of two surveys that were disseminated in 2019. The Experience Survey aimed to take a snapshot of the field of classics and explored experiences of discrimination and barriers to progression among postgraduate and staff experiences. The Departmental Contexts Survey examined departmental policies and contexts, with input from Heads of Department and Equality Officers. A summary of the data used to compile the report can be found here. The report complements the WCC’s own survey and report, Women in Classics in the UK: Numbers and Issues (2016).

The report will be formally launched on the 25th of November 2020 in an event hosted by the ICS from 1-3:15 pm.

The launch event includes brief presentations by the co-authors of the report, Helen Lovatt and Victoria Leonard.

A panel of experts will present their own responses to the report, followed by discussion, and finally a Q and A session.

Presentations include:

Mathura Umachandran: Who’s Task is Equality?
Lucy Grig: Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution? A Perspective from a Head of Department
Victoria Leonard: Changing Equality In Classics? A Five-Year Perspective From The Data
Helen Lovatt: What We Did and What We Need to Do: the CUCD Perspective
Katherine Harloe: Spotting Patterns; Recognising Problems
Sukanya Raisharma: TBC

If you are interested in attending the launch event, please register here.

Open Letter to the Vice-Chancellor and Provost of the University of Roehampton


The University of Roehampton is faced with losing large numbers of posts in the Arts and Humanities as a result of university cuts. At the same time, other areas of the university are expanding, placing an unequal burden on budget savings in one area of teaching and research, including Classics. What follows is the letter sent on behalf of the WCC UK to the vice-chancellor and provost of the university. We encourage any members of the WCC UK or our community to send their own letters of support for the staff and students facing losing their jobs and degree programmes.

Dear Professors Ezingeard and Gough-Yates,

We are writing on behalf of the Women’s Classical Committee UK to express the very serious concern of our members at the news of the University of Roehampton’s plans to make significant funding and staffing cuts to Arts and Humanities. As a group working within the field of Classical Studies in the UK, weare dismayed at the effects these cuts will have on Classics at Roehampton, as well as across Arts and Humanities more broadly. Classics is a particularly successful subject at the university: the Roehampton Classics courses were ranked fifth in the UK in the Guardian league table 2020, 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 teaching and its effectiveness.

The Arts and Humanities are not disposable, not ‘soft’ subjects or things that are just ‘nice to have’: they remain a crucial part of Higher Education in the UK. Theirstudy teaches written and verbal communication and skills of creative and critical thinking that cannot be automated but are essential across the workforce; they empower citizens; contribute to sustaining a vibrant culture and economy; give students cultural capital and rounded personal lives; and ultimately help to create a cohesive society. Their fully funded inclusion on the curriculum at Roehampton is made essential by the traditional make-up of the student body at the university. Many Roehampton students are from working-class backgrounds; and a large proportion are from Black and other ethnic minority backgrounds. They are regularly the first in their families to go to university. Shrinking of the Arts and Humanities at Roehampton will reduce access for these communities and contribute to the exclusion of traditionally under-represented members of society from participating in the arts and creativeindustries.

Cuts of this magnitude will have a devastating effect on both the student experience and the quality of the research of whoever remains, and seriously harm planned innovation, such as new programmes in development, including a new MA in Environmental Humanities, due to launch next year. They will also harm the reputation of the University, demonstrating that it does not hold its own Arts and Humanities departments in high enough regard to provide adequate funding and support to them. As an organisation focusing on women inClassical Studies, we have been impressed by the equality of gender representation among Classics and Ancient History staff, and fear that these cutsrun the risk of damaging this balance, thus negatively affecting the University’s ability to claim the Athena Swan Bronze Award.

We understand that the present global situation is exceptional and puts Higher Education Institutions in a volatile position, and that management have a responsibility to the whole university community. Nevertheless, we strongly urgeyou to reconsider your plans and continue to support your excellent Arts and Humanities colleagues in their highly impressive and successful work. We look forward to hearing from you on this issue.

Yours sincerely,

Laurence Totelin and April Pudsey
WCC UK Co-Chairs
On behalf of the members of the WCC UK

‘Queer and The Classical: Future and Potentialities’ – Seminar Series at the University of Oxford


The WCC UK is delighted to share the program of the 2020 Michaelmas Term edition of the Corpus Christi College Seminar Series at the University of Oxford co-convened by Marcus Bell and Eleonora Colli.

The title of the series is ‘Queer and The Classical: Future and Potentialities’, and the seminars will take place online every Wednesday at 5 PM from the 21st of October to the 9th of December.

21st October

Sebastian Matzner (King’s College London) – Queer Theory and Ancient Literature: Now What?

28th October:

Hannah Silverblank (Haverford College) – Queer Assemblages in Anne Carson: Reception and Abjection in ‘Red Doc>’ and ‘Decreation’

4th November

Kadji Amin (Emory University) – Pederasty and the Politics of Scholarship

11th November

Emily Rutherford (University of Oxford), Mara Gold (University of Oxford), and Professor Jennifer Ingleheart (Durham University)–  In Conversation: Queer Scholarship and Classical Reception

18th November

Ella Haselswerdt (UCLA) – Sappho’s Body / Towards a Deep Lez Philology

25th November

Jordan Tannahill and Jeremy O. Harris – In Conversation: Title TBC

2nd December

Kay Gabriel – Classics’ Transfeminine Object 

9th December

Stephanie Burt (Harvard University) and Mark Payne (University of Chicago) – After Callimachus: Reading and Conversation

If you are interested in this seminar series and wish to take part in one or more of the events listed, you can express your interest by writing at oxfordqueerclassical[a]gmail.com.

For any other queries, and to get in touch with the convenors, please email marcus.bell[a]classics.ox.ac.uk and eleonora.colli[a]classics.ox.ac.uk. 

WCC ECR Research Dissemination Workshop: Notes


On Friday, the 10th of July 2020, the WCC UK hosted its annual early career research event, focusing on the dissemination of research. As the event was held entirely online, the organisers have provided notes for the various sessions as well as links for further resources on the topics discussed.

Live tweets from the event can be found at #WCCECR.

There are two playlists of videos for the event that can be found on the WCC UK’s YouTube channel: presentations and spotlight talks.

Publishing journal articles Q&A (Carol Atack)

Useful links:
List of Classics journals with submission instructions
Not-for-profit open-access repository site for sharing publications
ORCID sign up for a digital ID to identify you as an author across different platforms
Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society: distributes payments to members when UK-published articles are copied or books are borrowed from public libraries
WCC short-term mentoring scheme may be a useful resource to consult a mentor about specific issues relating to publishing an article

Key discussion points:

  • things to consider in turning a (section of a) PhD chapter or a conference presentation in a journal article
    • length!
    • tone (e.g. if a very conversational oral presentation)
    • specificity – e.g. a very broad lit review may be needed for a thesis chapter, should be more closely tied to precise topic of article. (If the lit review is outside of your specialist area, consult colleagues from that area for help!)
    • number of footnotes – long discursive notes that are necessary in a thesis can often be cut from articles
  • it’s fine to publish articles from your PhD before submission, though do consider how these may overlap with an eventual book (cf. monograph publishing below)
  • articles sent back for ‘revise and resubmit’ can still get published! NB these can take two routes – can be sent back to the same reviewers or to a different set; the latter case is going to be more like an initial submission than the former
  • if you receive a really unfair review, engage with the editor on it; taking it to an advisor or mentor to see how to proceed/respond is also a good idea
  • for multilingual authors, it’s a good idea to publish in a mixture of English and other language(s)

Publishing trade monographs talk (Issy Wilkinson)

Useful links:
Society of Authors: support and advice for authors

Key discussion points:

  • trade publishing aims at a general audience, with books marketed widely
  • two main kinds of relevant trade publication: narrative non-fiction (60-90,000 words) and illustrated non-fiction (25-50,000 words; more pictures!)
  • ways to find a publisher: go bookshopping! talk to independent booksellers, talk to colleagues
  • should you have an agent? they advocate/negotiate for you, but getting one without a completed MS is tricky; you’ll need to self-represent to get a book deal before MS completion. Small publishers are more likely to accept MSS without agents.
  • things editors will consider when commissioning a trade book: why publish this now? who is the audience? what are the competitor publications?
  • you can approach editors directly; they may also commission books based on previous publications, journalism, public events, social media…keep profiles up-to-date!
  • book proposal should be succinct and direct, specifying audience (age, what shops they visit, what else they read…). check out what books are bestsellers in your area. tone should be similar to that of a cover blurb. and personalise your emails to the editor you’re writing to!
  • remember in trade publishing deadlines are REAL 

Publishing trade and academic monographs Q&A (Issy Wilkinson and Michael Sharp)

Trade-specific points

  • IW tries to find new/less-published authors – maybe half of her authors are ECRs; specialism is more important than experience
  • market for ebooks is increasing for narrative non-fiction, but not for illustrated, and in general hard-copy sales are not being pushed out by ebooks
  • point at which contracts are issued varies – may be based on just an initial proposal, or on a complete MS
  • deadlines are firmer and turnarounds quicker in trade publishing than academic: a couple of years is really the maximum time between agreement and publication. other commitments can be factored in when making agreement, but timing is just less flexible
  • the key difference is that trade books are not new research, which is what takes most of the time for academic publications
  • co-authorship can lighten the workload or lead to its own issues; it’s more common to have multiple contributors to a volume with a single main editor

Academic-specific points

  • for the ‘thesis book’ – it’s worth embargoing your thesis if it’s deposited in an online repository as some presses will not publish it if it’s freely available (not CUP – MS regards the book as sufficiently different from the thesis that it doesn’t matter – you will need to revise it for publication anyway!)
  • for the ‘second book’, most people approach a publisher with an idea, perhaps with some related articles published. a good first book plus strong proposal including sample chapters can lead to a provisional contract before the MS is completed
  • NB contracts for first-time authors often specify that publisher is to be given first refusal on the author’s second book
  • publishers may issue a ‘letter of interest’ if needed for e.g. applications – this will come after some input from readers, enough for editor to know they are interested, but is not a commitment to publish as a contract is
  • generally a contract is only issued after a full MS is submitted (though no need to have fully sorted out e.g. conforming to house style at this stage)
  • authors who are not in academic jobs are just as welcome to publish as those who are; time-frames can be flexible (deadline specified in agreement can be up to 4-5 years away; to allow for longer timeframe it’s possible to wait until later in writing process before making agreement)
  • co-authorship is the exception, not the norm, for monographs (as opposed to edited volumes)


  • you can include work previously published e.g. as articles or book chapters – rule of thumb is something like up to 1/3 (academic) or half (trade) of the complete work.
  • Agreements with article/chapter publishers should mean you are able to re-use your own content in the book, though you may need to notify them
  • pros/cons of trade vs academic publishing: trade books have larger reach, potential greater impact; but may be less of a contribution to ECR academic CV

Research plans for job and funding applications Q&A (Naoise Mac Sweeney and James Clackson)

Key discussion points

  • Start looking for postdoc jobs/funding early – you never know when e.g. the perfect postdoc will come up – but final year of PhD is when to start seriously applying
  • If you know of people who are applying for/have got project funding in your area, by all means get in touch to ask about opportunities even if formal job ads not yet published
  • post-PhD projects should be connected to your PhD but new — e.g. expand outwards to a bigger topic; transfer the question to a different dataset/context; comparative analysis
  • When writing research plans, show drafts to as many people as possible — including non-specialists (especially for funding applications and JRFs); ask to see previous successful (or unsuccessful!) applications
  • You can use current trends/debates to make your research topical for an interdisciplinary committee – but remember research doesn’t always need to be topical, just to matter to your particular discipline
  • Ditto, if you can show an impact on adjacent fields of research, do – but a single project doesn’t need to do everything: sell it on its own strengths
  • When writing for people outside your own discipline, tell them what the current debate is, what your contribution to this is, why it matters
  • Job applications imply an applicant needs to do everything – you can’t tell from them what criteria are actually key for a particular department’s. Look at department members/activities, esp those on interview panel – e.g. for impact, look at previous REF submissions (environment statement, impact case-studies) – different departments will have different focuses on e.g. media work vs local community engagement
  • When choosing an institution for a funding application, the most important thing is the benefit to your own research, rather than strategy about e.g. how many previous grants they’ve won
  • As well as individual research, research plans can certainly include things like organising a conference/journal special issue/edited volume. Make sure these include a proper research output from you – ie a paper and/or intro/conclusion with substantial research content, not just a summary of contents
  • Value of (published or proposed) trade publications in applications varies – for a job it can be a plus, showing wider impact/knowledge transmission/communication with wider audience; less so for a research grant. More traditional institutions can still see trade books as less ‘serious’ than academic.
  • Ditto other forms of wider communication like blogging, running workshops, etc – the system has not yet figured out how to properly value things like this. Academic publications should still be the priority. NB that people interviewing you will look at your social media if you have it.
  • Differences between applications for jobs and funding:
    • for a job, it’s about the whole person, not just the research project; but can be harder to sell interdisciplinary work in a job app than a funding proposal
    • Proposing to spend time on turning PhD thesis into a book is fine in a job application, not for a funding application – these expect to fund new research

BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinkers Q&A (John Gallagher)

  • Application: pitch for a radio show plus review of recent cultural item
  • Pitch for show should be based on your research but potentially broadened in scope (e.g. JG’s was about phrasebooks – his area of research – but expanded beyond early modern period)
  • Review: good idea to review something unrelated to your research – showing breadth/range (e.g. JG reviewed a recent novel). Subject doesn’t have to be “highbrow”!
  • Anyone at an AHRC-funded institution (including e.g. cultural heritage orgs as well as unis) is eligible to apply; no previous media experience required but having some definitely isn’t a disqualifier
  • 60-person shortlist -> workshops in groups of 20 with BBC producers and AHRC people; talks, workshopping and delivering pitches and answering questions on them (e.g. unpicking jargon, backing up big claims, giving examples – reacting on your feet is what’s important), simulated radio show discussion
  • Just because there’s already a high-profile person who’s often in the media talking about your area doesn’t mean you can’t apply/won’t be successful – aim in first instance is to create interesting programmes rather than finding new ‘go-to’ people in particular topics
  • Benefits of programme – as well as the obvious media exposure, there are benefits in expanding presentation skills (helpful for teaching!), answering the ‘so what’ questions about research, and definite CV benefits
  • Question about support provided for dealing with potential harassment arising from media exposure, especially as e.g. a woman or person of colour. JG has experienced a lot of discussion around potentially sensitive subjects, but not so much about protection of individuals; senses that producers are increasingly aware of this as an issue but the support mechanisms are not necessarily very strong. But NB a social media presence is not required either for application or if successful.

Knowledge exchange projects (Emma Cole)

Useful Links:
South West Creative Technology Network mailing list
Pervasive Media Studios newsletter
Bristol and Bath creative R&D
Creative Clusters Programme

Key discussion points:

  • Possible starting-points: local meet-ups, mailing lists/networking events for organisations you might want to collaborate with
  • When setting up a collaboration, be clear on IP ownership, and who has control over which elements of the project — best to have elements where the timeline is under your own control in case of external delays affecting your research/publications from project.
    • Consult uni legal teams for advice on contracts, NDAs, etc. Note that universities will often want to control IP.
  • Start small and build up – e.g. having an existing collaboration (with seed money, or even unfunded) can help gain larger-scale funding to scale up the project
  • Ditto in job applications – existing projects with room for growth and potential to attract further funding are attractive
  • Institutional backing can help – e.g. some funding opportunities are only available to those with (permanent) uni jobs – but there’s also a freedom to explore possibilities when not on a permanent/research contract
  • consider that you may wish to borrow research methods from other disciplines when involved in KE but that you’ll have to explain clearly how you’ve adapted them
  • there could be all kinds of ways you could participate in KE – let your imagination run wild!

Other useful resources:
Classicists’ PDF Society (Discord)

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