I’ve studied the ancient world at various British universities since 2012, but as much as I love what I do, I often wonder how I got mixed up in classics. In many ways, I’m a typical classicist, of the kind who made up almost the entirety of the discipline 50 years ago: an able-bodied neurotypical cisgender man who studied at Oxbridge and whose research takes a fairly standard approach to ancient literature (in my case, Latin epic). On the other hand, I’m mixed-race and gay, from a working-class background, and those facets of my identity – my ethnicity in particular – have a major impact on how welcome I feel within the field.
This blog started in July 2020, at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19 placed issues around race, class and institutional injustice or inclusivity firmly in the spotlight. Conversations on these topics, which have been happening for a long time, have become more urgent and more mainstream, with pressure on governments and organisations to enact real change. One strand of this blog considers ways to achieve inclusivity in my own specific academic discipline.
Another strand offers reviews of modern literature, with a focus on authors from traditionally-marginalised backgrounds and perspectives, as I attempt to diversify my own bookshelves and reading habits. I hope to help readers from all sorts of backgrounds to broaden their wider reading habits, and expose themselves to the different perspectives that books and other media can offer. My aim is to post at least two reviews each month, from a range of fiction and non-fiction texts; I don’t include affiliate links, but if you want to follow up any of these suggestions, please support your local libraries and independent bookstores if you can!
It’s important to stress that this is a personal blog. My experiences are my own, or those of my friends. I make no claims to speak for any community or institution, nor do I claim specific expertise (especially when it comes to advice or reviews). I also reject any moral responsibility to stay on topic! Classics will be a big part of this blog, and so will race and reading, because those are all big parts of my life, and have been for a long time; but as other issues arise which affect me, I will write about those too. Schools and universities, and no doubt our societies as a whole, would benefit from more awareness of the complexities of every individual. I hope my readers can pull something informative and enjoyable out of everything that’s mixed up in me!