Scholarships in Classical Studies for UK Schoolteachers

The Open University is delighted to be able to offer three fully-funded EDI scholarships for teachers in UK state schools wishing to study either of the following Open University modules:

  • A229 Exploring the Classical World
  • A276 Classical Latin: The Language of Ancient Rome

These scholarships, funded by the OU’s Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, will be awarded to UK schoolteachers who intend to introduce or develop the provision of Classical Civilisation or Latin in the curriculum of the non-fee-paying school or college where they work.  They are open to teachers of any discipline and at any level (primary, secondary or tertiary) looking to develop their knowledge of the ancient worlds of Greece and Rome and/or Latin language and Roman culture with this aim in mind.

In the award of these scholarships, preference will be given to:

  • teachers working in schools with a high proportion of students from backgrounds which are traditionally under-represented in the teaching of classical subjects, e.g. those from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background and/or where a high percentage of pupils are eligible for Free School Meals;
  • teachers from backgrounds which are traditionally under-represented in the teaching of classical subjects, e.g. those from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background (including people with a mixed ethnic background) or from a working class background.

These scholarships are open to those teaching in non-fee-paying primary and secondary schools as well as sixth form colleges. Please note that applicants will normally be expected to have worked for at least two years as a teacher.

Studying with the Open University

A229 Exploring the Classical World and A276 Classical Latin: The Language of Ancient Rome are 60-credit modules, requiring regular study each week.  Students are supported by a dedicated tutor, enjoy access to regular tutorials, and study using a combination of printed and online materials. The Open University’s distance learning model gives students the flexibility to study where and when they want.  Modules run from October to May and are assessed via a series of assignments submitted throughout the year.

A229 Exploring the Classical World

This module provides an introduction to the worlds of ancient Greece and Rome. It covers a range of topics such as Homer’s poetry and the society where it was created; Athens in the fifth century BCE; republican Rome; and Roman social history. This module explores ancient poetry, prose, drama and historical texts in English translation along with art, architecture and archaeological evidence to help you build up a solid understanding of key periods of classical history and culture. The material covered provides a strong foundation for the teaching of Classical Civilisation up to GCSE level (or National 4/5 Classical Studies in Scotland).

Further information about Exploring the Classical World is available on the OU website , and on our departmental website.

A276 Classical Latin: The Language of Ancient Rome

This module combines a beginners’ course in Latin with the study of Roman culture and literature in translation. You’ll learn the core principles of the language, while also exploring a range of Latin texts in translation (including Livy, Virgil, Ovid, and Horace) from literary, cultural, and historical angles. The module focuses on the themes of Roman identity, Rome’s origins, and the use of stories from the past in Augustan Rome. The material covered provides a strong foundation for the teaching of Latin up to GCSE level (or National 4/5 in Scotland).

Further information about Classical Latin: The Language of Ancient Rome is available on the OU website, and on our departmental website.

What’s included in the scholarship

The Open University EDI scholarships consist of a grant of £3,228 to cover the full cost of the tuition fees for the module.

Successful candidates will be provided with support and advice on developing or introducing classical subjects in their school and are asked to provide a report on their progress following their completion of the module.

Developing the teaching of classical subjects in schools

There is good support available for teachers looking to introduce classical subjects into state schools provided by the charity Classics for All. For more details, go to the Classics for All website and click on ‘My school wants classics’.  The ACE project website (Advocating Classics Education) also provides useful advice for those wishing to develop Classical Civilisation (and Ancient History) in their schools.  Charities such as the Roman Society and Hellenic Society can provide grants of up to £500 for classroom resources and books.

Applicants may be interested in the panel discussion at the Open University’s Advocating Classics Education event in 2019, in which representatives of the ACE project, Classics for All and a schoolteacher with recent experience of developing Classical Studies provision in a state secondary school shared their experiences and offered guidance and advice. The full discussion is available online here.

Note that your plans to introduce or develop classical subjects in your school need not necessarily mean offering a formally examined course (such as a GCSE).  Your plans might instead involve introducing classical content into other subject areas, teaching classics-related classes or clubs off-timetable or offering Latin as a foreign language at KS2, for example.  Please outline your plans and their expected impact (e.g. in terms of student numbers) in your application.

How to apply

To apply for the scholarship, please complete the EDI-scholarship-application-form-July-2022 and send it to FASS-ClassicalStudies-Enquiries@open.ac.uk. With the form you should also send:

  • a separate curriculum vitae (CV) of no more than two pages;
  • a copy of your degree certificate (or a transcript of your degree that makes clear the level of your academic achievement);
  • a statement from your headteacher indicating that they are willing to support your plans to introduce or develop Classical Civilisation or Latin in your school or college. (This need be no more than one side of A4.)

The application form includes a section for a short personal statement (of no more than 800 words). You should use this section to outline:

  • the nature of the school you work in and its student body (where possible, please provide information on the percentage of pupils with English as an Additional Language, Special Educational Needs and Free School Meals, plus a link to the latest Ofsted report);
  • how you propose to develop the provision of classical subjects in your school;
  • how the scholarship will facilitate greater access to classics for those from backgrounds which are traditionally under-represented in the field (this may apply either to you as the candidate and/or to your students);
  • your teaching experience to date;
  • your need for the qualification;

The successful applicants will be selected on the basis of this statement, their eligibility, and their academic and professional achievements to date, also taking into account the level of support from the school or college.

The scholarships will not be awarded to students receiving full funding from other funding bodies. It is not necessary to register for the OU study before making this application.

The Open University is proud to promote diversity in education and we welcome applications from all sections of the community. If it would help to have the application in an alternative format, please contact FASS-ClassicalStudies-Enquiries@open.ac.uk.

The deadline for applications is 4pm on Monday July 18, 2022 and we intend to inform all applicants in August.

(Note this is deadline has been extended following an earlier call for applications to allow candidates more time to apply.)

Informal enquiries about these scholarships can be made to: Prof James Robson (james.robson@open.ac.uk).

 

Leventis and EDI Studentships for UK Schoolteachers

We are delighted to offer the following studentships for UK schoolteachers to study with us:

  • Leventis MA Studentships
  • EDI Studentships (for undergraduate modules)

Please see below for details and get in touch with us if you have any questions!

Leventis MA Studentships for Teachers:

We are delighted to be able to offer three fully-funded scholarships for teachers in state schools wishing to study our MA in Classical Studies.* These scholarships, generously funded by the A.G. Leventis Foundation, will be awarded to UK schoolteachers who intend to introduce or develop the provision of Classical Civilisation (or closely related subjects) in the curriculum of the school where they work.

The Open University’s MA in Classical Studies:

The MA in Classical Studies at the Open University focuses on the question ‘How do we know what we know about the ancient world?’ It is designed both to introduce you to key concepts and themes in Classical Studies and to allow you to explore some of these in more depth. Over the course of the two modules that make up the qualification, it gradually builds up your knowledge and the skills you need to explore ancient visual and written material, while also training you to become an independent researcher. This is the ideal qualification for anyone who wants to know more about the ancient world and the ways in which we can approach it as researchers. It also offers an excellent starting-point for those wishing to teach classical subjects in secondary school. It is a two-year qualification requiring approximately 16 hours of study time a week, which means that it can be completed alongside employment, and it is taught entirely online. No specific prior knowledge is assumed, and there is no requirement to have studied Latin or Ancient Greek, but an undergraduate degree in a cognate discipline is recommended as a basis. By consultation other arrangements can sometimes be made if you do not hold a degree in such a discipline. This usually involves preparatory reading. Further information about the MA is available on the OU website, and on our departmental website.

The Leventis scholarships consist of a grant of £8000 to cover the full cost of the tuition fees for the MA with the balance available to assist with the cost of book purchases related to the study of the MA modules and the acquisition and development of resources for teaching Classical Studies, or related subjects, in the scholarship holder’s school.

Developing Classical Studies in Schools:

Applicants may be interested in the panel discussion at the Open University’s Advocating Classics Education event in 2019, in which representatives of the ACE projectClassics for All, and a teacher with recent experience of developing Classical Studies provision in a state secondary school shared their experiences and offered guidance and advice. The full discussion is available online here.

Note that your plans to introduce or develop classical subjects in your school need not necessarily mean offering a formally examined course (such as a GCSE or National 4/5 in Scotland).  Your plans might instead involve introducing classical content into other subject areas, teaching classics-related classes or clubs off-timetable or offering Latin as a foreign language at KS2, for example.  Please outline your plans and their expected impact (e.g. in terms of student numbers) in your application.

How to apply:

To apply for the scholarship, please complete the MA-scholarship-application-form-2022 and send it to FASS-ClassicalStudies-Enquiries@open.ac.uk. With the form you should also send:

  • a separate curriculum vitae (CV) of no more than two pages;
  • a copy of your latest degree certificate and/or transcript;
  • a statement from your headteacher indicating that they are willing to support your plans to develop Classical Civilisation (Classics, Latin and/or Greek, ancient history)

The application form includes a section for a personal statement. You should use this section to outline your teaching experience to date and to provide a clear indication of the way in which you propose to develop the provision of Classical Civilisation (Classics, Latin and/or Greek, ancient history) in your school. The successful applicants will be selected on the basis of this statement, and on the level of support from their school for their development of the curriculum.

The scholarships will not be awarded to students receiving full funding from other funding bodies. It is not necessary to register for the MA degree before making this application.

The Open University promotes diversity in education and we welcome applications from all sections of the community. If it would help to have the application in an alternative format please contact FASS-ClassicalStudies-Enquiries@open.ac.uk.

The deadline for applications is 4pm on Monday June 6, 2022 and we intend to inform all applicants by late June.

Informal enquiries can be made to Trevor Fear (trevor.fear@open.ac.uk).

*In line with the Open University’s commitment to EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion), we anticipate awarding these studentships to teachers in state/state-funded schools. We do not rule out applications from private or selective schools, but it will be particularly important in these cases to demonstrate how expansion of the curriculum in the school environment will lead to dissemination of opportunity for the wider community.

EDI Scholarships in Classical Studies for UK Schoolteachers:

We are delighted to be able to offer three fully-funded EDI scholarships for teachers in UK state schools wishing to study either of the following Open University modules:

  • A229 Exploring the Classical World
  • A276 Classical Latin: The Language of Ancient Rome

These scholarships, funded by the OU’s Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, will be awarded to UK schoolteachers who intend to introduce or develop the provision of Classical Civilisation or Latin in the curriculum of the non-fee-paying school or college where they work.  They are open to teachers of any discipline looking to develop their knowledge of the ancient worlds of Greece and Rome and/or Latin language and Roman culture with this aim in mind.

In the award of these scholarships, preference will be given to:

  • teachers working in schools with a high proportion of students from backgrounds which are traditionally under-represented in the teaching of classical subjects, e.g. those from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background and/or where a high percentage of pupils are eligible for Free School Meals;
  • teachers from backgrounds which are traditionally under-represented in the teaching of classical subjects, e.g. those from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background (including people with a mixed ethnic background) or from a working class background

These scholarships are open to those teaching in non-fee-paying primary and secondary schools as well as sixth form colleges. Please note that applicants will normally be expected to have worked for at least two years as a teacher.

Studying with the Open University

A229 Exploring the Classical World and A276 Classical Latin: The Language of Ancient Rome are 60-credit modules, requiring up to 16-18 hours of study each week.  Students are supported by a dedicated tutor, enjoy access to regular tutorials, and study using a combination of printed and online materials. The Open University’s distance learning model gives students the flexibility to study where and when they want.  Modules run from October to May and are assessed via a series of assignments submitted throughout the year.

A229 Exploring the Classical World

This module provides an introduction to the worlds of ancient Greece and Rome. It covers a range of topics such as Homer’s poetry and the society where it was created; Athens in the fifth century BCE; republican Rome; and Roman social history. This module explores ancient poetry, prose, drama and historical texts in English translation along with art, architecture and archaeological evidence to help you build up a solid understanding of key periods of classical history and culture. The material covered provides a strong foundation for the teaching of Classical Civilisation up to GCSE level (or National 4/5 Classical Studies in Scotland).

Further information about Exploring the Classical World is available on the OU website , and on our departmental website.

A276 Classical Latin: The Language of Ancient Rome

This module combines a beginners’ course in Latin with the study of Roman culture and literature in translation. You’ll learn the core principles of the language, while also exploring a range of Latin texts in translation (including Livy, Virgil, Ovid, and Horace) from literary, cultural, and historical angles. The module focuses on the themes of Roman identity, Rome’s origins, and the use of stories from the past in Augustan Rome. The material covered provides a strong foundation for the teaching of Latin up to GCSE level (or National 4/5 in Scotland).

Further information about Classical Latin: The Language of Ancient Rome is available on the OU website, and on our departmental website.

What’s included in the scholarship

The Open University EDI scholarships consist of a grant of £3,228 to cover the full cost of the tuition fees for the module.

Successful candidates will be provided with support and advice on developing or introducing classical subjects in their school and are asked to provide a report on their progress following their completion of the module.

Developing the teaching of classical subjects in schools

Applicants may be interested in the panel discussion at the Open University’s Advocating Classics Education event in 2019, in which representatives of the ACE project, Classics for All and a schoolteacher with recent experience of developing Classical Studies provision in a state secondary school shared their experiences and offered guidance and advice. The full discussion is available online here.

There is good support available for teachers looking to introduce classical subjects into state schools provided by the charity Classics for All. For more details, go to the Classics for All website and click on ‘My school wants classics’.  The ACE project website (Advocating Classics Education) also provides useful advice for those wishing to develop Classical Civilisation (and Ancient History) in their schools.  Charities such as the Roman Society and Hellenic Society can provide grants of up to £500 for classroom resources and books.

Note that your plans to introduce or develop classical subjects in your school need not necessarily mean offering a formally examined course (such as a GCSE).  Your plans might instead involve introducing classical content into other subject areas, teaching classics-related classes or clubs off-timetable or offering Latin as a foreign language at KS2, for example.  Please outline your plans and their expected impact (e.g. in terms of student numbers) in your application.

How to apply

To apply for the scholarship, please complete the EDI-scholarship-application-form-2022 and send it to FASS-ClassicalStudies-Enquiries@open.ac.uk. With the form you should also send:

  • a separate curriculum vitae (CV) of no more than two pages;
  • a copy of your degree certificate (or a transcript of your degree that makes clear the level of your academic achievement);
  • a statement from your headteacher indicating that they are willing to support your plans to introduce or develop Classical Civilisation or Latin in your school or college.

The application form includes a section for a personal statement. You should use this section to outline:

  • the ways in which the scholarship will facilitate greater access to classical subjects for those from backgrounds which are traditionally under-represented in the field (this may apply either to you as the candidate and/or to your students);
  • the nature of the school you work in and its student body (where possible, please provide information on the percentage of pupils with English as an Additional Language, Special Educational Needs and Free School Meals, plus a link to the latest Ofsted report);
  • your teaching experience to date;
  • your need for the qualification;
  • the precise ways in which you propose to develop the provision of Classical Civilisation or Latin in your school.

The successful applicants will be selected on the basis of this statement, their eligibility, and their academic and professional achievements to date, also taking into account the level of support from the school or college.

The scholarships will not be awarded to students receiving full funding from other funding bodies. It is not necessary to register for the OU study before making this application.

The Open University is proud to promote diversity in education and we welcome applications from all sections of the community. If it would help to have the application in an alternative format, please contact FASS-ClassicalStudies-Enquiries@open.ac.uk.

The deadline for applications is 4pm on Monday June 6, 2022 and we intend to inform all applicants by late June.

Informal enquiries about these scholarships can be made to: Prof James Robson (james.robson@open.ac.uk).

 

 

 

Another letter from Provence…

We’re very pleased to share another update from “our alumnus in Provence”, Paul Jackson.  Thank you Paul, and good luck with the writing! 

So, this year’s Classical Association conference has just drawn to a close, and what a conference, with papers ranging from Tolkien’s Unique Reception of Pythagorean ‘Dissonance’ in the Ainulindalë of the Silmarillion to Cyrus the Great, Caught Between Persia and Iran.

Well, I say ‘this year’s’, but Swansea was of course meant to have hosted this event two years ago, only for the pandemic to put the dampers on that. Chapeau to Swansea, then, for being able to pick things back again, and though I wasn’t able to be there en presential this time, not able to follow Wordsworth to Tintern Abbey and then tour the West Country as I had planned to, the hybrid nature of the conference did at least allow me to present an updated version of my original paper, The Other Dumas: Alexandre Dumas and the Classics, albeit en distanciel, and to speak on the classical education, passions, and varied works of the popular and famous feuilletoniste by way of Zoom.

The pandemic has unfortunately also had an effect on the Classical Dumas Series I am working on with Noumena Press, with the publication of Isaac Laquedem: A Tale of the Wandering Jew being delayed until next year, though that will at least allow Acte of Corinth: A Tale of Greece and Rome to become the first in the series when it comes out later this year. Look out for news on this here, where you will also find a link to the eBook version of the prologue to Isaac Laquedem, for those who want a little taste of that in advance.

Circumstances have also allowed me to finish a first draft of a little novella I have been working on, which I suppose comes out of my doctoral thesis, De natura deorum Epicureorum. The Last Days of Epicurus is set in Hellenistic Athens, in the arconship of Lysitheides, when an Amynomachus, veteran of Thermopylae, finds what he is looking for, himself, in Epicurus’ Garden. More on this soon.

Back to Dumas, though, before I finish, for we did follow him – and Isaac ­– recently along the Appian Way, though on electric bikes, passing the likes of the Tomb of Caecilia Metella and the Casal Rotondo along that cobbled way like his eponymous protagonist. Here are some photos:

Here too is a little poem of the day that I penned, drawing on Dumas’ descriptions and culminating in a distinctively (Horatian) Epicurean couplet:

The Via Appia

For Paul-Jean Toulet

Who else hath trodden those antique, paved ways,

Gone from distant seas to loftiest walls,

Through those sweeps of green lined with marble halls,

‘Neath shady pines, those abodes of manes.

From within they watch, from within they gaze,

And to all who pass by, they calmly call,

Hoping to hold those strange souls in their thrall,

This now their life, these now their deathless days.

But who hath heard the silence of those stones,

Ever reaching for us with wraithlike arms,

Speaking to us in epitaphic tones,

Whispering so softly oracular charms,

“Seize the moment, whilst you still have some breath,

Knowing that with this life, comes deathless death…”

Oh, Paul-Jean Toulet, if you haven’t heard of him, was a French poet and fellow feuilletoniste, best known for his Contrerimes ­­­– a collection of poems in a verse form of his own invention, la contrerime – some of which the great French actor and director Daniel Auteuil put to music for his album Si vous m’aviez connu, one of the songs of which is entitled Les Alyscamps, that huge Roman necropolis outside of Arles which both Gauguin and Van Gogh painted. It was this song that really inspired my own poem, thus the nod to him.

Right, I suppose that ought to be enough for now. See you soon in our next episode,

Stay safe,

Paul x

 

John Stephen Kassman Memorial Essay Prize 2022

An annual prize is awarded for the best essay in a competition, open to all current Open University undergraduate students. It is likely to be of particular interest to students on A229, A276, A330 and A340. The essay, of not more than 3000 words, should be on any topic related to Greek and Roman Antiquity.

Submission dates for the next prize are as follows:

·         the closing date for notice of intention to enter the competition is 30 June 2022, and 

·         the deadline for submission of essays is 30 September 2022.

For further details, rules and regulations for the competition, see below.

—-

Information and Regulations for Entrants

1. The prize is an annual award based on the income from a donation given by the late Alec Kassman in memory of his son. Alec was an Arts Faculty Staff Tutor in London Region of the Open University and a contributor to Classical Studies courses. The purpose of the prize, which is awarded for the best essay in an annual competition, is to develop and foster study of Classical Antiquity in the Open University. The award takes the form of a book-token (or other academic related goods) to the approximate value of £100. 

2. The competition is open to all current OU Undergraduates and Associate students (i.e. current at the date of notice to enter the competition – see below 4). Candidates may compete in more than one year if they wish, but no candidate may submit an essay more than once on the same topic.

3. Details covering presentation of essay:

i) The essay may be on any topic related to Greek and Roman Antiquity; this regulation may be interpreted liberally – including e.g. comparative study, provided that a substantial part of the essay deals with a Greek or Roman aspect of the topic. The right is reserved to refuse proposals deemed unsuitable.

ii) The essay should be an original piece of work, written for the purpose of the competition, and should not replicate material submitted by candidates for previous assessment (TMAs and EMAs) at the OU or elsewhere.

iii) A word-limit of 3000 words, including notes, should be observed (if appropriate to the essay subject, a limited amount of additional illustrated and/or diagrammatic material may be included). A bibliography should be appended, together with a statement that the essay is the candidate’s own unaided work.

iv) Essays should be submitted as an attached file e.mailed to FASS-ClassicalStudies-Enquiries@open.ac.uk. In order to preserve anonymity for judges, the candidate’s name and address should not be written on the essay itself but enclosed on a separate cover-sheet.

4. Notice to enter the competition should be sent, together with the proposed essay title, by 30th June 2022 via email to FASS-ClassicalStudies-Enquiries@open.ac.uk

The deadline for receipt of essays is 30th September 2022. This timing is intended to give competitors an opportunity to work on their essays after the 2022 academic session. The decision of the judges, which will be final, will be announced to all competitors as soon as possible after the closing date.

5. The administration and adjudication of the competition will be by a Committee appointed by the Department of Classical Studies. The committee reserves the right not to award the prize in any given year if there is no essay of an acceptable standard.

6. Guidelines for competitors. The following criteria will be observed by the judges:

i) Quality of the Essay as a piece of English prose

ii) Appreciation of the issues involved in the selected topic

iii) Quality of thought displayed in setting out and addressing such issues

iv) Sensitivity to the historical ambience of the topic, and its significance within that setting

v) Capacity for independent critical analysis

vi) Imaginative choice of topic.

Asterion: Neurodiverse Classics

Over the last few months, several OU Classical Studies students and graduates have been involved in setting up a new organisation called Asterion, which aims to represent neurodiversity in Classics.

Asterion logo

For the OU Classical Studies Blog, Asterion Director and OU tutor Cora Beth Fraser caught up with two neurodivergent members of the Asterion Editorial Board, Hilary Forbes and Tony Potter, to talk about neurodiversity, OU study and Asterion.

Cora Beth: In setting up Asterion, I’ve been hearing a lot of late-diagnosis stories from people who’ve only found out in adulthood that they are neurodivergent. For many people the diagnosis explains traits and problems that go back a long way. It certainly has done for me. After I was diagnosed as autistic in my 30s, I could look back at my childhood and see all the quirks and difficulties that would have added up to an obviously autistic profile, if I hadn’t been trying so hard to hide them, and if autism hadn’t been so little understood in those days! How about you: when did you first realise that you experienced the world a little differently? 

Tony: I think I’ve always known I was different and that I experienced the world more sensitively than others from my early childhood. Even in primary school I was called a ‘quirky’ child. I remember being told off for having a sort of nervous tick when I got stressed out. I also remember it being referred to as a habit that I’d grow out of. Now however, I see it for what it was, it was a physical manifestation of a condition that at the time I knew nothing about and it was brought on by factors outside of my control. Plus, we’re talking about the late eighties and early nineties here and neurodiversity wasn’t really something that got loads of attention back then. This is the bizarre bit though; in my later teenage years I seemed to do exactly what had been predicted and grew out of it – well, at least that’s what I thought. I sailed through my early twenties with ease. I think this was because I lived in another country and was essentially a different person. I’d escaped my upbringing, so to speak. I worked as a holiday rep for five years and didn’t seem to experience one bit of OCD or anxiety. On the contrary, I would stand up in front of hundreds of people to conduct welcome meetings, I was outgoing, confident and very adventurous and I partied really hard (perhaps too hard if truth be told), but none of this bothered me one bit and any suggestion that I suffered from a mental condition would have had me rolling on the floor in fits of laughter.

It wasn’t until my late twenties to early thirties that I started to experience the world differently again. I could feel myself becoming more and more conscious of my surroundings and how I felt I was being perceived by other people. I think what triggered my OCD and anxiety after all those years was my working environment which at best could be described as stressful and at worst, toxic. There was a very unpleasant culture where I worked at the time, and day in day out people feared for their jobs because the company turned over staff like it was a competition. I personally think that spending three years in that environment sort of broke me. It wasn’t until I bit the bullet and left the business that I felt more secure, but unfortunately the damage had been done and the anxiety and OCD were back to stay. 

Hilary: I think I’ve always known this for as long as I can remember… but I couldn’t express it as a child. I used to think that all the other children at school were in on some secret which I didn’t know, and that’s why they all seemed to be able to communicate with one another, when I didn’t know how.

I have always wanted to know how things worked – from the time when I undid all the nuts on my pram (it nearly collapsed while I was being pushed in it because I did it so quietly and without being seen… but I was fine – it was saved just in time!), to taking radios to pieces. Everything that could come apart, I took apart to see how it worked, so science was a big draw to me. But so was English Literature because I enjoyed learning about how novels and plays were constructed and the context of them, so I was a big Shakespeare fan… so for me delving deep into the possible influences of the ancient world on current science was and is part of the same path. I tend to see history, science, theology etc as one thing rather than chop them up into different disciplines.

Cora Beth: I know you’ve both been studying for a long time. My own path through education has been a winding one: I’ve completed a bunch of degrees in different subjects – and gotten part-way through several more – because when I take an interest in something, I find myself needing to know everything about it! What have your education journeys been like, and how did you end up in Classical Studies?

Hilary: I came to Classical Studies as a natural (to me) progression from Astrophysics and Theology… I know it seems strange, but it makes sense to me! I have had a love of all things astronomy and the night sky since I was four years old and that developed into a BSc in it, and I followed this by a BD (specialising in Old Testament Lit and Lang). However I did these degrees many years ago back in the early 80s and so I have come to Classical Studies quite late in life after a career as a secondary school and then FE maths teacher and after thirteen years of also teaching Astronomy GCSE in FE. Then around fourteen years ago, I found Aristarchus of Samos, who lived around the end of the 3rd and throughout most of the 4th century BC. He was the first person who has been referred to as proposing that the Sun was at the centre of the then known Universe, and that he did this 1800 years before Copernicus did fascinated me.

After reading as much as I could for many years and considering various MA s, I came across the Classical Studies MA at the OU. I love context, and so it satisfied two aspects of study for me, studying the context of ancient cosmologies – and by context I mean, what was everyday life like for the ancient Greeks and Romans? It also gave me a way in to study more of the context of the Roman world in the time of Christ, and the events referred to in the New Testament. Of course, having come now to the end of this MA, I feel I have only just begun to dip my toe in the water…

Tony: I enrolled with the Open University in 2009 and at the time it wasn’t possible to do a degree in Classical Studies alone, so I registered for the BA (Hons) in History. Luckily for me there was a good range of modules available so I was able to tailor my degree pathway to my interests and ended up making up almost 50% of my degree with Classical Studies related modules. Starting in 2009 I studied one 60 credit module per year. I started with AA100: The Arts Past & Present, followed by A219: Exploring the Classical World. I then completed A200: Exploring History: Medieval to Modern followed by A330: Myth in the Greek & Roman World. In my final two years I studied A330: Empire, and finished my degree with A223: Early Modern Europe. So, as you can see, my degree was very varied – but I enjoyed every part of it! I caught the OU bug very shortly after enrolling on my first module so continuing with an MA in Classical Studies after my undergrad degree was finished was a no-brainer for me. Although it has taken me longer than I would’ve liked to complete my MA, owing mainly to a rather inconvenient flare-up in my OCD and anxiety, I’m very pleased to be at the stage I am now.

When I started with the OU in 2009 I wanted to get into secondary teaching. Although teaching in some form or other is still my long-term goal I now know that I’d be better suited to the type of teaching that takes place in further and/or higher education environments. Now that I’ve completed my MA, though, I’m planning a PhD, so hopefully I’ll be a student of the OU for bit a longer! I can’t honestly say with any certainty where I’ll end up after my OU journey, but I know whatever happens I’d love to be involved with Classics and Ancient History and I certainly want to continue researching. Perhaps I’ll apply to become an OU tutor!

Cora Beth: I know that in my own career as a student, and later as a teacher, I’ve had to put a lot of strategies in place to help me, because my autistic brain struggles with certain things. I’ve learned, for instance, that emails tend to overwhelm me – it can take me an hour to compose an answer to a simple query, because I find it so difficult to get my meaning across without misunderstanding. So for me, emails have to be tackled at the right time of day, and in short bursts. Do you find that you’ve had to make adjustments or invent ways of approaching your work differently, because of your neurodivergence?

Hilary: I much prefer learning in my own time and space at my own pace. I enjoy not having to engage with many other students in groups and I have enjoyed especially not having to have my webcam on during tutorials – thanks, Cora Beth, for not asking us to do this…!

This all makes me sound horribly unsociable! I am quite sociable really – but in particular ways when I have the energy to be so, and not in groups or crowds. I did attend one OU conference and it was really lovely to meet people but it also wiped me out for a week or two afterwards so there is a cost to being social around more than three people. The flexibility of the OU also allows study to fit in around work, which is the other major reason it works so well for me.

Tony: I suppose I’ve subconsciously adapted my study methods to appease my OCD and anxiety. For example, one problem I have resulting from my OCD is that I seek perfection in anything I do, or in this case, anything I write which is both physically and mentally exhausting. I’ve tried hard to accept that there’s a point when a piece of work is as good as it needs to be but this just doesn’t work for me so I still strive for perfection. Because my writing style (not sure if ‘style’ is the best word to describe this though!), is a relentless cycle of write, review, delete and repeat, it takes me much longer to get a polished piece of work across the finish line ready for submission. For this reason, over the years I’ve had to be very pro-active in my approach to TMAs. I would start early and work on the little but often approach. I tended to write my TMAs as I worked through the module readings, ending up with a conglomeration of ideas which I could then mould into a coherent piece of work. This approach was exhausting and time consuming, but it was the only workable method I could use.

Luckily for me, I developed a better approach throughout my MA. I still massively over complicated things and made my life very hard, but it worked better for me. I’m still striving for the elusive ‘perfect’ approach (I’m not even sure that exists), and hopefully if I do get on a PhD programme, I’ll have the time to work on that. Despite my convoluted processes though, I always seemed to produce very good work which was at least a reward for the hours I spent polishing my essays. 

Cora Beth: You’re both serving on the Editorial Board of Asterion, alongside neurodivergent classicists from schools and universities around the UK and overseas. Why do you think an organisation representing neurodiversity is needed in Classics?

Tony: Despite a great deal of hard work and tireless effort by a lot of very committed people in our field, the word ‘Classics’ still carries lots of negative connotations, and the perception of it being an ‘exclusive club’ of sorts still persists. Although our field is no longer dominated by elite white males with old-fashioned opinions, it remains difficult to shake off these historic biases. In a world where more and more people are coming to terms with their own mental health and neurodivergencies it’s never been more important to embrace this diversity in our field, particularly if it’s to survive well into the future and become an ‘all-inclusive’ discipline. Classics is a multifaceted and enormously varied area of study and researchers in our field are now regularly exploring the links between neurodiversity and the Classical World, which makes our presence as neurodivergent individuals more and more essential to the future of the discipline.

Hilary: There is a great need generally to raise awareness of neurodivergent people and how we view the world. In the world of Classical Studies – at any level of enjoyment – it is great to have a place which welcomes those who have had experiences of not fitting in anywhere. To be accepted and valued is the one thing we all need.

If you’d like to find out more about the work Asterion is doing, visit our website at https://asterion.uk/ and read our blog. We welcome enquiries and new members – so if you’d like to get in touch, do send us an email at enquiries@asterion.uk, or pitch us an article at content@asterion.uk!

John Stephen Kassman Memorial Essay Prize 2021

An annual prize is awarded for the best essay in a competition, open to all current Open University undergraduate students. It is likely to be of particular interest to students on A229, A276, A330 and A340. The essay, of not more than 3000 words, should be on any topic related to Greek and Roman Antiquity.

Submission dates for the next prize are as follows:

·         the closing date for notice of intention to enter the competition is 30 June 2021, and 

·         the deadline for submission of essays is 30 September 2021.

For further details, rules and regulations for the competition, see below.

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Information and Regulations for Entrants

1. The prize is an annual award based on the income from a donation given by the late Alec Kassman in memory of his son. Alec was an Arts Faculty Staff Tutor in London Region of the Open University and a contributor to Classical Studies courses. The purpose of the prize, which is awarded for the best essay in an annual competition, is to develop and foster study of Classical Antiquity in the Open University. The award takes the form of a book-token (or other academic related goods) to the approximate value of £100. 

2. The competition is open to all current OU Undergraduates and Associate students (i.e. current at the date of notice to enter the competition – see below 4). Candidates may compete in more than one year if they wish, but no candidate may submit an essay more than once on the same topic.

3. Details covering presentation of essay:

i) The essay may be on any topic related to Greek and Roman Antiquity; this regulation may be interpreted liberally – including e.g. comparative study, provided that a substantial part of the essay deals with a Greek or Roman aspect of the topic. The right is reserved to refuse proposals deemed unsuitable.

ii) The essay should be an original piece of work, written for the purpose of the competition, and should not replicate material submitted by candidates for previous assessment (TMAs and EMAs) at the OU or elsewhere.

iii) A word-limit of 3000 words, including notes, should be observed (if appropriate to the essay subject, a limited amount of additional illustrated and/or diagrammatic material may be included). A bibliography should be appended, together with a statement that the essay is the candidate’s own unaided work.

iv) Essays should be submitted as an attached file e.mailed to FASS-ClassicalStudies-Enquiries@open.ac.uk. In order to preserve anonymity for judges, the candidate’s name and address should not be written on the essay itself but enclosed on a separate cover-sheet.

4. Notice to enter the competition should be sent, together with the proposed essay title, by 30th June 2021 via email to FASS-ClassicalStudies-Enquiries@open.ac.uk

The deadline for receipt of essays is 30th September 2021. This timing is intended to give competitors an opportunity to work on their essays after the 2021 academic session. The decision of the judges, which will be final, will be announced to all competitors as soon as possible after the closing date.

5. The administration and adjudication of the competition will be by a Committee appointed by the Department of Classical Studies. The committee reserves the right not to award the prize in any given year if there is no essay of an acceptable standard.

6. Guidelines for competitors. The following criteria will be observed by the judges:

i) Quality of the Essay as a piece of English prose

ii) Appreciation of the issues involved in the selected topic

iii) Quality of thought displayed in setting out and addressing such issues

iv) Sensitivity to the historical ambience of the topic, and its significance within that setting

v) Capacity for independent critical analysis

vi) Imaginative choice of topic.

Another Letter from Paul Jackson in Provence

Two years ago we published a ‘Letter from Provence‘, sent by our recent PhD graduate, Paul Jackson. Since then, Paul has been busy  working on his Alexandre Dumas translations (and much more), and it’s a pleasure to receive this second letter updating us on his progress. We love keeping in touch with our graduates, and would welcome other letters like this from our OU Classical Studies alumni. You can email us on FASS-ClassicalStudies-Enquiries@open.ac.uk

Greetings, or should I say salut, from over here in Provence again, from Pont-du-Loup to be precise, which was apparently once one of Queen Victoria’s favourite haunts! Given the travel restrictions, I find myself working my way through Depardieu’s filmography and Pagnol’s bibliography as well as hunting down Romanesque chapels and local cheeses and wines, all of which are as numerous as the chickens, pheasants, quails, pigeons, tortoises, cats, and rabbits our garden seems to be accumulating, wannabee Cincinnatus I seem to be. Well, I haven’t completely dedicated myself to the plough yet, trying to maintain the philosophy of Émile Zola – and Pliny the Elder before him – “Nulla dies sine linea”, whether that be reading or writing, difficult as that is in these uniquely trying times…

Still collecting recipes and writing poems and penning travel diaries and delving into the legends of Roland, as well as recently providing consultancy for the development of a rather wonderful Italian pedagogical tool, Alatin, work on my Classical Dumas Series is also progressing, with Isaac Laquedem: A Tale of the Wandering Jew finally due for publication later this year, the first part of which was teased as an eBook last Christmas (https://gum.co/aGlOA). Unfortunately, circumstances prevented me from speaking on the project at last year’s Classical Association Annual Conference in Swansea as planned, but the paper I was to read, The Other Dumas: Alexandre Dumas and the Classics, was subsequently published in Classics for All’s online Ad Familiares journal (https://classicsforall.org.uk/reading-room/ad-familiares/alexandre-dumas-and-classics), and hot off the press, coming next in the series will be Acte of Corinth, The Convert of Saint Paul: A Tale of Greece and Rome, with several other exciting ones to come thereafter!

Again, further details and updates can as always be found on my website, https://paultmjackson.com

Valete,

Paul.

Leventis MA Studentships for Teachers

We are delighted to be able to offer three fully-funded scholarships for teachers in state schools wishing to study our MA in Classical Studies. These scholarships, generously funded by the A.G. Leventis Foundation, will be awarded to UK schoolteachers who intend to introduce or develop the provision of Classical Civilisation in the curriculum of the school where they work.

The Open University’s MA in Classical Studies:

The MA in Classical Studies at the Open University focuses on the question ‘How do we know what we know about the ancient world?’ It is designed both to introduce you to key concepts and themes in Classical Studies and to allow you to explore some of these in more depth. Over the course of the two modules that make up the qualification, it gradually builds up your knowledge and the skills you need to explore ancient visual and written material, while also training you to become an independent researcher. This is the ideal qualification for anyone who wants to know more about the ancient world and the ways in which we can approach it as researchers. It also offers an excellent starting-point for those wishing to teach classical subjects in secondary school. It is a two-year qualification requiring approximately 16 hours of study time a week, which means that it can be completed alongside employment, and it is taught entirely online. No specific prior knowledge is assumed, and there is no requirement to have studied Latin or Ancient Greek, but an undergraduate degree in a cognate discipline is recommended as a basis. By consultation other arrangements can sometimes be made if you do not hold a degree in such a discipline. This usually involves preparatory reading. Further information about the MA is available on the OU website, and on our departmental website.

The Leventis scholarships consist of a grant of £8000 to cover the full cost of the tuition fees for the MA with the balance available to assist with the cost of book purchases related to the study of the MA modules and the acquisition and development of resources for teaching Classical Studies, or related subjects, in the scholarship holder’s school.

Developing Classical Studies in Schools:

Applicants may be interested in the panel discussion at the Open University’s Advocating Classics Education event in 2019, in which representatives of the ACE projectClassics for All, and a teacher with recent experience of developing Classical Studies provision in a state secondary school shared their experiences and offered guidance and advice. The full discussion is available online here.

How to apply:

To apply for the scholarship, please complete the application form (available at this link: MA-scholarship-application-form-2021) and send it to FASS-ClassicalStudies-Enquiries@open.ac.uk. With the form you should also send:

  • a separate curriculum vitae (CV) of no more than two pages;
  • a copy of your latest degree certificate;
  • a transcript of your degree that makes clear the level of your academic achievement;
  • a statement from your headteacher indicating that they are willing to support your plans to develop Classical Civilisation.

The application form includes a section for a personal statement. You should use this section to outline you teaching experience to date and to provide a clear indication of the way in which you propose to develop the provision of Classical Civilisation in their school. The successful applicant will be selected on the basis of this statement, and on academic excellence in their studies to date.

The scholarships will not be awarded to students receiving full funding from other funding bodies. It is not necessary to register for the MA degree before making this application.

The Open University promotes diversity in education and we welcome applications from all sections of the community. If it would help to have the application in an alternative format please contact FASS-ClassicalStudies-Enquiries@open.ac.uk.

The deadline for applications is 4pm on Friday 4th June and we intend to inform all applicants by late June.

Informal enquiries can be made to Trevor Fear (trevor.fear@open.ac.uk).

Podcasting Thucydides

Thucydides Mosaic from Jerash, Jordan, Roman, 3rd century CE at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

OU PhD student Liz Webb recently had the opportunity to record a podcast episode with James Renshaw, who teaches Classics at Godolphin and Latymer School and runs their weekly Ancient World Breakfast Club for both the school and community. The conversation centred on Liz’s PhD research on ‘Audience Sensory Experience in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War.

Click on this link or on the image above to listen to the podcast episode.

Liz’s research utilises theory from phenomenology, sensory archaeology and literary sensory theory to develop a framework for understanding how Thucydides deploys sensory hierarchies, time, space, emotion and movement in his narrative. The objective of illuminating this aspect of his work is to consider how his historiographical technique draws on sensory experience to underline the points at which Thucydides requires the audience to exercise its judgement, which contributes to our understanding of early ancient historiography.

You can follow Liz on Twitter at @WebbEA02. James’ Twitter handle is @jajrenshaw, and the Godolphin and Latymer School can be found at @gandlschool and @gandlclassics

Thank you to Liz and James for sharing this conversation!

Image on this page: Thucydides Mosaic from Jerash, Jordan, Roman, 3rd century CE. Now in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

 

Kassman Essay Prize 2020 – winners announced!

The John Stephen Kassman Memorial Essay prize is an annual award based on the income from a donation given by the late Alec Kassman in memory of his son. Alec was an Arts Faculty Staff Tutor in the London Region and a contributor to Classical Studies modules. The prize is open to all current Open University undergraduates, who are invited to submit a 3,000 word essay on any aspect of Greek and Roman antiquity.

We’re delighted to announce that the winners of the 2020 John Stephen Kassman Memorial Essay prize and the titles of their essays are as follows:

First prize: Steven Vitale‘The Case of the Missing Toponym: A Reinterpretation of the Archaeological Evidence at Iron Age Lefkandi’

Second prize: Patrick Bell, ‘Plague and pandemic; echoes down the ages’

Third prize: Lisa Fortescue-Poole, The Metamorphosis of Pygmalion – scientists and sex-robots: the re-creation of Ovid’s myth in contemporary science fiction’

We asked each of our prize-winners to tell us a bit about their essays and about their OU study journey so far:

Steven: ‘I am in the second year of my studies with the Open University, on track toward a BA in Classical Studies. Though I have a university education in science, this is my first formal opportunity to study the Arts and Humanities, my first time studying through a distance learning program, and my first time studying with a British University. I grew up, and still live, in the United States where distance learning is not popular (present pandemic circumstances excluded) and there is no real alternative to a traditional, residential learning experience for a field such as Classical Studies. The program offered by the Open University is ideal as I can perform my studies interleaved between the responsibilities of work and parenting. I hope in the future to be able to combine my background in science with my study of the classical world to be able to answer archaeological and art historical questions through advancements in forensic technologies.

My Kassman essay addresses a problem I find personally vexing. Lefkandi is an Iron Age settlement on Euboea, Greece, which has been the subject of excavation from the 1960’s through the present day. The archaeological evidence at Lefkandi is extraordinary for its period, including gold jewelry, valuable foreign imports, and monumental architecture. It is not an overstatement that Lefkandi has re-written the previous understanding of a depopulated and impoverished Greek “Dark Ages.” The problem is: this apparently important settlement is no where attested in ancient sources. Lefkandi is a modern name. How can it be that the wealthiest city of the Greek Iron Age has completely disappeared from ancient texts? In my essay I suggest this apparent mystery is due to a misinterpretation of the archaeology. One can show that essentially all of the extraordinary finds are concentrated in one location on the edge of the excavated area, which likely represents a cemetery and ritual centre for wealthy landholders whose estates were distributed throughout the Lelantine Plain. The remainder of the settlement is actually not so remarkable and could plausibly have been ignored by history.’

Lefkandi centaur, from Lefkandi I. The Iron Age. Text. The Settlement

Patrick: ‘My OU studies in classics represent longstanding unfinished business. At school in the 1960s opting for science subjects meant dropping Latin and much else. My interest in classics was kept alive as I encountered all sorts of connections whilst studying and later practising medicine. When retirement came 4 years ago, embarking on a BA in Classical Studies was an easy choice. It turned out to be a great experience, not least because of uniformly excellent tuition and support. I completed my degree earlier this year and, when the final assessment was cancelled, had time to enter the Kassman Essay Prize.

In the year of coronavirus I used the benefit of a medical background to examine how ancient Greek literary sources dealt with plague. It soon became clear from the chosen sources, Homer’s Iliad, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and Thucydides’ History, that the attitudes and responses of the ancients are still relevant today. Specifically we see the same mistakes being made: explaining events in entirely irrational ways, indulging in a toxic blame culture and avoiding difficult political decisions.

I have taken a break from OU studies since the summer, but have been recruited by my old medical school in Belfast to deliver a talk on ‘The Legacy of the Classics in Medicine’ in one of our undergraduate special study modules. I hope there may be other opportunities to demonstrate the importance of classics to the next generation of doctors.’

Plague in an Ancient City, Michiel Sweerts, c. 1652–1654

Lisa: ‘I am currently in my final year of a Classical Studies degree with the Open University, pursuing a lifelong passion. In my first careers interview at school, I said I wanted to be an archaeologist and despite being an English teacher for twenty-five years, I still think there’s time!

I began the course very much focused on ancient Greece, having lived and worked in Greece as a teacher many years ago. I found, however, that the course introduced me to the wonders of Rome, which I am now equally passionate about in terms of Ancient History. My personal area of interest are the constructions of narratives: whether Homer, Ovid or Augustus, the inclusions and omissions, the focus and purpose of each construction. Fascinating too, and connected to this, is the use of myth and its modification in everyday contemporary society.

Inspired by Paula James’ discussion of Pygmalion in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in A330 and being an avid fan of contemporary science fiction film, it occurred to me I had seen this myth rendered more darkly and this provided the basis for my essay. I have recently seen another area: video games, which also explores classical history and myth, namely Assassin’s Creed. Time allowing, I will pursue this; it does involve playing video games, too, another hobby! It’s fascinating how strikingly relevant classic is.’

The evolution of Pygmalion in Blade Runner 2049

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to everyone who entered the competition – we really enjoyed reading all your essays!