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Positions available on the WCC UK Steering Committee

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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

A new interpretation of the Ceres and Proserpina myth

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This week’s guest post comes from Hannah Morrish, an actor and screenwriter who has among other things played a number of roles in Shakespeare’s classical plays, about her latest project. 

Ceres is a short film, currently in development, that tells the story of a daughter seeking refuge from her abusive relationship at the home of her estranged mother. It follows their attempt to reconnect, and move forward, before the daughter’s inevitable decision to return to what she knows. But now with earth underneath her fingernails.

The film is a modern retelling of the myth of Ceres and Proserpina, a film about mothers, daughters, regrowth, and the complexities of abuse.

I grew attached to the myth while working on it as an actor at the RSC, at a time when I found myself having frequent conversations with friends and colleagues about their experiences with coercive-controlling relationships.

Ceres uses the roots of the myth to look at the everyday shadows of emotional abuse, the far-reaching effects it has on those close to the victim, and the near-impossibility of extricating oneself from its hold.

Set in modern-day suburban Norfolk, this fifteen-minute film is about the subtle psychological movements that can often only take place in safe female spaces.

This section of Ted Hughes’ translation of the Proserpina myth is the essence of the film:

From this day, Proserpina,

The goddess who shares both kingdoms, divides her year

Between her husband in hell, among spectres,

And her mother on earth, among flowers.

Her nature, too, is divided. One moment

Gloomy as hell’s king, but the next

Bright as the sun’s mass, bursting through clouds.

The Rape of Proserpina, Tales from Ovid by Ted Hughes

The film will be directed by Amelia Sears and the parts of Ceres and Proserpina will be played by Juliet Stevenson and myself respectively. Due to the subject matter of the film, we aim to assemble an all female, trans, and non-binary crew for the shoot.

Ceres aims to shed light on the nuances and complexities of emotional abuse, the scars left on women that can’t be seen, and the female connections that help to bring women back to themselves.

We are currently in the fundraising stages of production with one week to go to reach our goal. If this film and the subject matter resonate with you, and you felt like supporting in any way, or indeed sharing with others, you can find more information on Kickstarter.

Assemblywomen Call for Pitches

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We are thrilled to be opening Assemblywomen: the Video Journal of the Women’s Classical Committee (UK) for the first Call for Pitches. Please find further details about the journal and the types of submissions below. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at assemblywomenwcc@gmail.com with any queries you may have.
Assemblywomen is the video journal of the Women’s Classical Committee (UK).The Women’s Classical Committee was founded in 2015 in the United Kingdom with the following aims:
  • Support women* in classics**
  • Promote feminist and gender-informed perspectives in classics
  • Raise the profile of the study of women in antiquity and classical reception
  • Advance equality and diversity in classics
*By ‘women’ we include all those who self-define as women, including (if they wish) those with complex gender identities which include ‘woman’, and those who experience oppression as women.
**By ‘classics’ we understand the study of the ancient Mediterranean world and its reception, including but not limited to scholarship by students and post-holders in academic departments of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology.
Assemblywomen furthers the general aims of the WCC by providing an innovative platform for the open access publication of research on women and gender in the ancient world. We will accept submissions that focus on women, or take feminist or gender-informed approaches to the ancient Mediterranean world, work that undertakes comparatives studies between the Mediterranean world and global cultures or which examines global cultures in relation to the ancient Mediterranean. While we are actively working to create a platform in which we can accept work that does not have a connection with the Mediterranean world, at this point in time we do not have the sufficient breadth of knowledge in order to do this.
There are three types of submissions currently being accepted.
Video Essays: these are our peer reviewed submissions. These may undergo several stages of peer review depending on the submission, including review of the pitch and the final script. Video essays should present original research and be between ten and twenty minutes in length (around 2000-4000 words, depending on speech patterns).
Work in Progress Shorts: these are not peer reviewed, but undergo the same pitch development process with an editor as video essays. They should present original research, but as the name suggests this will likely be ‘work in progress’ and does not need to present firm conclusions. These should be between 5 and 15 minutes in length (1000-3000 words approximately).
Review or Response videos: These videos will vary in length but should be no longer than 15 minutes. These are videos that either:
  1. Review a body of work (more like a review essay than the review of a single book). These may take the form of ‘state of the field’ type essays, and should make some general observations about the place of each of the books/articles/videos within the (sub)discipline more broadly).
  2. Videos that respond to another Assemblywomen video or to an article or book. The original author will usually be given an opportunity to respond also. Please note: these are not places for criticism, but for constructive critique and/or dialogue. These may take the form of “here is another example that illustrates this point”, “this responds well to X methodology”.
Assemblywomen Editors: Ellie Mackin Roberts, Claire Stocks, Thea Lawrence, Penny Coombe

Steering Committee Elections

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Following this year’s election, we are delighted to announce that Dr Cora Beth Fraser and Dr Emma-Jayne Graham have been elected to the Steering Committee of the Women’s Classical Committee UK.

We would like to extend our thanks to all of the excellent nominees, and to the many members of the WCC who participated in the election. During such a turbulent year, it was wonderful to see so many members enthusiastic to participate in the running of the Committee.

Dr. Fraser and Dr. Graham will officially assume their positions in the Steering Committee at the AGM on Friday 14th of May. We look forward to welcoming them and congratulating them in person!

AGM 2021: announcement and CFP

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The Women’s Classical Committee UK is pleased to announce its 2021 Annual General Meeting, ‘Care and Caring‘, on Friday 14th May 2021. 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’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.

Schedule

9.15am: Room opens; welcome and housekeeping.

9.30am: Business meeting

10.30am: Coffee break

11am: Keynote – Véronique Dasen (University of Fribourg) – “Amulets and Women’s Agency: Heracles and Omphale, a Knotted Life”.

12pm: Lunch

1pm: Spotlight talks

Lenia Kouneni – (Re)Introducing Greek embroidery in Classical Reception studies.

Jennifer Stager – Towards an archaeology of care

Helen Tank – Motherhood as a colonised concept: an ancient perspective

1.50pm: Screen break

2pm: Break-out discussion rooms on the theme of care. Each group will be given the same prompts to begin discussion.

3pm: Wrap-up and close

 

Spotlight talks – call for papers – now closed 

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 care and caring; 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 5pm on Monday 3rd May.

Please feel free to pass on this CFP to anyone you think may be interested in participating or saving the date.

 

Child-friendly policy

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.

 

 

Launch of the Network Caring in Classics

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The Women’s Classical Committee UK is very pleased to launch the Caring in Classics Network. The Network aims to support people of all genders and at all career stages who are affected by caring. This includes, but is not limited to, care for older people, care for younger people, children, and infants, care for disabled people, and kinship care. Whilst COVID-19 has impacted on every country in the world, the pandemic is not universally experienced. Stark inequalities experienced by those who provide or receive care have been revealed by the pandemic, which has worsened existing disadvantages. The Network aims to provide support particularly during, but also beyond, the pandemic.

The Network has created a new WCC UK policy document, Guidelines for Supporting Carers and Organising Events. It is available for download here. These guidelines are designed to assist those who are organising conferences and other events to support those participating in events who have or are affected by caring responsibilities. The provision of support for those with caring responsibilities is a central strategy for ensuring gender diversity and inclusion.

The Network is organising regular and online ‘coffee-hour’ style meet-ups for members of the Women’s Classical Committee (UK) who are affected by care to come together in an informal and private community setting.

The next Caring in Classics Network Meet-up will be held on Zoom on Wednesday 24 February, 15.00-16.00 GMT. Please email victoria.leonard at coventry.ac.uk for details of how to join the meeting. The time and date of the meetings will not be within a set pattern in order to maximise attendance. There will be break-out rooms available within the meeting, depending on attendance numbers.

The Network is led by Ellie Mackin Roberts, Adrastos Omissi, Rosalind Janssen, and Victoria Leonard. If you would like to get more involved with the Network, please email womensclassicalcommittee at gmail.com.

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

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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

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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

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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.

 

CUCD Equality and Diversity in Classics Report 2020

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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.

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