Symbols in Crisis

On the night of May 30, 1941 two young men, Manolis Glezos and Apostolos Santas were wondering in Athens. By then, the city was occupied by the brutal German forces. The men avoided carefully the military patrols while they walked across Plaka, the nineteenth century neighbourhood. Their footsteps brought them at the foot of the Acropolis. The climbed carefully uphill and they headed for the top of the Sacred Rock. Without losing valuable time, they reached for the Swastica that was desecrating ... »

Phisher attacks Historian: Ancient Curse

Today my twitter account has been attacked by phishers. Only yesterday have I received a direct email message from one of my followers, who wrote “Ha, ha. This you?”. A shortened url completed the sentence. I should have known instantly that a person who wrote such grammatically incorrect emails could not have been one of my followers. Despite my premonition, I clicked on the link at the bottom of the page, which said “If you want to read the full message, click here”. In my confused mind, I tho... »

Sensitive Topics in Ancient History

As you probably already know, I am teaching a third year module on Roman and American Slavery in Leicester. This year, and for the first time, I decided to encourage my students to contribute to a collective blog http://romanandamericanslavery.wordpress.com . Only then, it became obvious that they were intensely preoccupied more with issues of racism than with the generic topic of slavery. I suspect that the reason for such a preference is the fact that they have had no direct experience with sl... »

Gifts for PhD students

A friend recently asked me what gift would I give to a PhD student. That was an odd question, I thought. But then I realised the awkwardness of the situation and the dilemma in which my friend was. PhD students are different and effectively they have different needs. So, here is a list of what I think is suitable. • Chocolates. There is nothing better than the pleasure a piece of chocolate can give. In addition, it works also as powerful brain food. • Half a bottle of wine. This is just about ri... »

The PhD Student and the Supervisor

Admittedly, this is a complicated relationship, which develops along the same lines as a dysfunctional love story. It starts with the excited anticipation of a blissful future together. The student will be the eager learner and the supervisor will become the wise teacher and guide and protector. The student would look up to the (godlike?) supervisor with pure admiration and the supervisor will look at the student as a protégée and valuable future colleague. The intricacies of the situation and t... »

Professional Skills for Ancient Historians, Classicists and Archaeologists

The study of the classical world may look obsolete in the eyes of the close-minded but, in fact, it has never been timelier. The restructuring of modern societies, the declaration of semi-religious wars, the economic crisis… they all resemble comparable incidents that took place in the past. A student of classical antiquity can easily make parallelisms and learn from previous mistakes, which is a lot more than what government officials can claim. Since the graduate of ancient history, archaeolog... »

How to Survive the First Week of Term

The Winter Semester is upon us! Tomorrow I start teaching and I feel that I am not as prepared as I should be. I have been dealing with the administration and rewriting of modules for the past three weeks but everything seems to be half finished. A sense of inadequacy and fear lurks somewhere in the deeper folds of my soul, as the students are arriving for their lessons. Even before teaching starts, I am already overworked, tired and anxious about the outcome. And I am probably not the only one.... »

Relocation, Relocation: The Fate of an Academic Gypsy

Last Sunday I went for tango in Market Harborough. There, I have been introduced to a young dancer with excellent leading skills. Curious about his style, I asked him where he took tango lessons. He mentioned that he started in Paris and then he continued in Canada and the UK. Then it was my turn to reveal the whereabouts of my teachers: Ireland, UK, Italy, Germany and Greece. The next question took me by surprise. He asked me: Are you a Researcher? How could he have guessed? Was it my scholarly... »

Seven Requirements to get an Academic Job.

Ancient Historians are struggling to get their first post after they finish the PhD. The qualified candidates are too many, while the available jobs are always scant. In a previous article I insisted that the one prerequisite for getting a placement in a university is that the applicant should be a “good fit”. Even if this is essentially true for all cases, we should not forget that the competition is stiff and that the prospective candidates should meet also a set of other requirements. 1)     ... »

What jobs can you do with an Ancient History or Classics degree?

Contrary to the image I usually project, I do not expect my students to dedicate themselves to a life of poverty in their pursuit of learning Greek or Latin. Instead, I am a firm believer that a course in Ancient History or Classics is only the first step to achieve an illustrious career outside academia. Unfortunately, the direction they may take is not an obvious one. Up to now, when they asked me about the application of their degrees in real life, I tended to joke and claimed that “we are us... »

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