Classically Inclined

October 3, 2020

One week down…

Filed under: Teaching — lizgloyn @ 4:02 pm
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I’ve just finished my first week of teaching completely on-line in the new exciting world of COVID-proofed education. Most of my colleagues have been experimenting with the exciting world of HyFlex delivery, where half the class attend in person and half beam in through MS Teams; while there are a couple of rooms where the technology isn’t working at all well, most colleagues seem to have found that it’s all worked a lot better than we feared. For reasons which were entirely predictable, I’m teaching entirely on-line for at least the first half of this term, and I anticipate that being extended to the second half at the very least; as such I’ve been doing a lot of reading and training on the best way to run a fully on-line class. Someone over the summer asked me how much time I thought I’d spent on this; I then guesstimated I’d spent about 40 hours on professional development stuff, and that’s only gone up. (My employer has been running a considerable amount of training, some of which has been catching up with things by the skin of their teeth as IT functionality is implemented, but there’s been a sincere and coordinated effort to provide something. Plus I’ve been spending a lot of time on Futurelearn.)

So this week, reality hit – the first week of teaching. Was it all going to work?

Do you know, it actually wasn’t bad. There were bumps and lumps, of course. Neville Morley has been documenting his particular set of trials and challenges over on his blog, which I’d been watching with some trepidation since one of the things he had noticed was that students were being reluctant to get stuck into the bulletin board aspects of the course. My experience has been very different, but I think I have a very different group of students which also makes a difference to the kind of engagement they’re willing to have. My advanced language course is full of second and third years who came up together from Latin Language & Reading last year, and so are well over the ‘but what if I make a mistake in front of these people?’ stage; some students hadn’t engaged at the time of writing, but there was enough of a lively debate for me to feel they were cracking on.

My other course, Contemporary Approaches in Latin Literature, was a bit more of a worry. Nothing. Crickets on the bulletin board. Why, I wondered, why are they being so quiet when I know from correspondence they’re keen and they’ve introduced themselves on the student introduction forum? All became clear when I got an e-mail on Friday asking why it wasn’t possible to post to the forum. Here’s a picture with the link to press! I blithely replied. We don’t have that link, they counted. Bother and blast, I said, undoing the setting which was meant to stop my colleagues’ inboxes being inundated with thousands of Moodle notifications. We’ll try again next week, but at least it’s a technical hitch which we know about now and the students will let me know if it repeats itself.

On Friday, I had three face-to-face seminars over Teams. Would it work? Would the students turn up? Would they end up in the right meeting? Would anyone press The Forbidden Button and start a parallel meeting? Would I manage to beam in the intercollegiate students who haven’t yet got registered on college systems for the MA seminar? Well, I guess it helps that I’m dealing with a small number of students, because not only did they all end up in the right place, they all managed splendidly. I had three hours of really good discussion-based teaching, including getting my Contemporary Approaches students to separate out into six separate break-out groups without getting lost there or on the way back. I know that coming on Friday, I may have benefited from mistakes earlier in the week – but, do you know, we had a great set of conversations, some really good insight building on the work earlier in the week, and it was as good as being back in the classroom. Yes, there’s work to be done on getting used to the asynchronous work they have to do and I want to do some tweaking for some tools – but, actually, I’m really pleased.

I also met all my dissertation students this week, and they’re as bubbly as ever, full of excitement and enthusiasm for the eclectic area of the subject they’ve identified as their focus for the next six months. The glory of the dissertation supervision is that I can give each student full focus just as well on a virtual meeting as I can in a classroom, and indeed the year before I started going on sabbatical I’d started doing Skype supervisions to make use of my non-campus days rather than cram everything into three days already overfull as it was. I love starting them off, and this year was no exception.

I know that not everywhere is having such a smooth ride. I know that the level of support being provided to colleagues across the sector is wildly variable (and that’s putting it mildly). I know professional service colleagues who are being required to be on campus are having a completely different experience. But for this very small corner of the world, and my contribution to the degrees of a small number of students – actually, it’s going alright. Thank goodness something is.

September 15, 2020

How did Seneca’s ideas relate to the world he lived in?

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 10:53 am
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This is one of a series of posts designed to support students and teachers looking at the Love and Relationships unit of the OCR Classical Civilization A-level. You can find all the posts in the series by clicking on the OCR Seneca hashtag.

I’m often asked what Seneca’s contemporaries thought about his philosophical ideas. Sadly, we don’t have any ancient sources which explicitly discuss this, so we have to make some educated guesses.

We know that some of the ideas he expressed would have been strongly counter-cultural. Arguing that one should base amor, and presumably one’s choice of marital partner, on virtue and the potential for virtue would have been odd in a world where the usual priorities for a spouse were about financial wealth, beauty, physical health (for child-bearing), or political alliance. All of these were Stoic indifferents, but not so much for Seneca’s non-Stoic acquaintances.

The implicit gender equality in the idea that all humans have the same potential for virtue on the one hand sounds pretty radical, but on the other hand, the Stoics didn’t advocate for an overhaul of social structures. Instead, they argued that people should exhibit virtue in the positions that they found themselves, meaning women should exercise virtue in their current social roles. Seneca thus did not challenge the idea of marriage, and marriage as traditionally expressed in Roman society. It’s also worth remembering that Roman women were pretty visible in Seneca’s period. They had big roles as civic patrons funding charitable works, as priestesses in city cults (particularly outside Rome), and as semi-discreet players in political life – not just the empresses, but the wives of significant politicians as well. The idea that Roman women had intellectual competence and autonomy is one that Seneca’s peers were very familiar with, even if they had particular ideas about where those abilities should be exercised.

The Roman idea of companionate marriage was well-established by Seneca’s time, so his development of that framework to philosophical ends does not come out of nowhere. The orientation of some of the language related to marriage in order to place virtue at the centre of a couple’s relationship is radical, but part of Seneca’s overall strategy is placing Stoic thought and conventional ideology next to each other and letting the moral lessons emerge from the comparison. While his contemporaries might superficially think that he is saying something quite conventional, the underpinnings of his overall argument are very different, and he constantly plays on the tension between conventional Roman ideas and the Stoic perspective on an issue.

That said, the critique of the sexual double standard in relationships is unusually explicit in his writing – other Roman authors play around with it, and other authors do suggest that it is a bad thing, but Seneca’s objection stands out as being particularly pointed.

Another important way that Seneca’s model of relationships works is that it runs counter to traditional Roman family structures. In a traditional Roman family, power lay with the paterfamilias, the most senior male; hypothetically he had the power of life and death over everyone who was under his legal control, even if we have very few examples of that power ever being exercised. The authority of the paterfamilias created a lot of restraints around what men could legally do before they were emancipated, and women technically always needed some kind of guardian or tutor (although there were lots of practical ways around these restrictions). Nonetheless, the Roman family was deeply hierarchical in terms of its operation.

By contrast, the Stoic model is based on a position of equality. All people have equal potential for virtue; nobody has inherently more or less power in any relationship. The family structure offered by Stoicism offers a reciprocal arrangement which respects and supports all the family members’ pursuit of virtue. Again, Seneca quite subtly presents his different model, but it is radically different to the way that Roman society was structured.

What about Seneca’s relationship to Stoicism? Some people have argued that he isn’t Stoic at all, labelling him as an eclectic thinking. However, Stoicism is by definition a fluid philosophy. Unlike Epicureanism, which follows the doctrines of a founding thinker, the Stoics emphasise the importance of using your own reason to react to the circumstances in which you find yourself. Rather than being eclectic, Seneca is part of the tradition of innovation and reflection that categorises Stoicism more broadly, working with and developing core theories in his own way.

Since ideas about love and relationships aren’t central to what we have that survives of Seneca’s writing, we have to unpick how it relates both to Stoicism and to the broader world. However, what he does say on the subject is steeped in Stoic philosophy and seeks to show his contemporaries that there is a different way to do things.

September 12, 2020

On Responding To Anger: Growing Pains

Filed under: Meta — lizgloyn @ 7:30 pm

With thanks and apologies to Sara Ahmed, without whom I would not even be attempting to write [like] this.

Something happened to me a few week ago. Someone thought I had got something wrong. What’s more, they thought I had got something wrong that I had tried very hard to get right.

This post is not about that incident. My personal encounter with the fallout of the Well-meaning White Woman’s Dilemma – do we act, write and speak about racism and colonialism in the knowledge that we are going to get it wrong, or do we remain silent and expect people of colour to pick up the burden yet again – is not particularly edifying, and is work best done more privately. This is a post about a process.

Earlier this summer, I read The Uses of Anger by Audre Lorde for the first time. Among all the observations that still remain insightful almost four decades after it was written, one in particular jumped out at me:

Most women have not developed tools for facing anger constructively. CR [consciousness raising] groups in the past, largely white, dealt with how to express anger, usually at the world of men. And these groups were made up of white women who shared the terms of their oppressions. There was usually little attempt to articulate the genuine differences between women, such as those of race, color, age, class, and sexual identity. There was no apparent need at that time to examine the contradictions of self, woman as oppressor. There was work on expressing anger, but very little on anger directed against each other. No tools were developed to deal with other women’s anger except to avoid it, deflect it, or flee from it under a blanket of guilt.

No tools were developed to deal with other women’s anger – or indeed for any kind of anger. Anger is not ladylike, not civilized, not appropriate.

But it is necessary. It is needed. We need a way of responding to it – but a way which takes anger as the gift that it is, that accepts the learning and the knowledge that anger gives us, and does not perform the kind of negation and willful ignorance that Lorde describes and that is so familiar, most of all in ourselves.

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September 7, 2020

Seneca, homosexuality and homoerotics

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 5:49 pm
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This is one of a series of posts designed to support students and teachers looking at the Love and Relationships unit of the OCR Classical Civilization A-level. You can find all the posts in the series by clicking on the OCR Seneca hashtag.

In order to understand Seneca’s position on homosexual relationships, we need to go back to the Greek Stoics, who defined erōs as the desire to create a relationship with someone else based on their moral and physical attractiveness. In the Greek world, this usually manifested in same-sex erōs; men identifying virtue in other men and forming erōs-based relationships as a result is the usual context for talking about this in Greek Stoic texts. However, over the centuries between the original Stoics and Seneca, the frame changes; what was originally a pretty homoerotic concept becomes thoroughly domesticated. Amor (the Latin for erōs) becomes what happens inside a heterosexual relationship, particularly the relatsionship between a married couple, as the example of the husband and wife overcome with affectus showed us.

So what does Seneca think of same-sex relationships? We have a bit of a challenge here, as he doesn’t actually say very much – it’s not a big priority for him compared to other ethical matters. The passage that is usually mentioned here is Moral Letters 122.7, which appears very explicit:

Do those who change their clothes with women not seem to you to live against nature? Do they not live contrary to nature who strive so that boyish youth shines out at the wrong time? What can be crueller or more miserable? Will he never be a man, so that he can endure a man for a long while? And although his gender should have snatched him from insult, will not even his age deliver him?

On the surface, this is an appeal to the importance of living in accordance with nature or secundum naturam – Seneca asks whether this kind of behaviour is precisely that, living against nature, and thus something that should be avoided. Similarly, there are appeals here to the nature of being a man which should have protected such a man from this fate, which again seems to draw on the idea of the lessons that nature gives us. But when we read on in the letter to 122.8, this is what we find:

Do these people not live contrary to nature who long for a rose in the winter and who force the lily, a spring flower, with the application of hot water and with the adjusted change of heat? Do they not live contrary to nature who plant orchards on the tops of towers? What about those men whose trees nod their heads on roofs and gables, with roots rising from the place where crowns reach for? Do they not live contrary to nature who build the foundations of bathhouses in the sea and don’t think that they are swimming pleasurably unless heated pools are struck with the wave and storm?

The wider context of Moral Letter 122, then, is about the dangers of ignoring the natural flow of time, ignoring the fact that we are meant to mature, and attempting to artificially hold on to youth – this is attempting to reverse the natural flow of things, just like trying to grow flowers in artificial weather.

The overall direction of the argument, then, is not about same-sex desire in and of tiself, but a particular manifestation of same-sex desire which seeks to artificially prolong youth to look attractive. All of the tropes here play into contemporary Roman stereotypes about homosexuality, in particular the cinaedus and pathicus, effeminate men who enjoyed being penetrated, and who were seen as staying in the role of a ‘youth’ longer than they should; these concepts were very much in line with the Greek model of pederasty, which saw the eromenos as a youth who would transcend the role as he matured. The cinaedus in particular is the subject of much aggressive satire in Juvenal and other Roman writers, so it would be very easy to get the impression that the Romans completely disapprove of homosexual relationships.

However, there’s more going on than that. Homosexual activities had a tacit acceptance in elite Roman circles, so long as they were not attached to particularly effeminate behaviours. Don’t forget that in 130 AD, the emperor Hadrian was so upset at the accidental death of his lover Antinous that he ordered him deified. The penetration of enslaved or low status free men doesn’t come in for comment, and the penetration of young free men is sort of acceptable within certain limits – Julius Caesar is meant to have taken the passive role in an affair with King Nicomedes of Bithynia, and the rumours around this didn’t do him any harm in the long term. In Seneca’s own time, Petronius’ Latin novel The Satyricon features a homosexual love triangle as its protagonists – the romantic entanglements certainty complicate their affairs, but their sexual preferences are not really an issue. So while a single line from Moral Letter 122 conforms with some general social prejudices against a particularly reviled stereotype, there’s not enough there to be sure of what Seneca’s actual position on same-sex relationships per se is; he is far more concerned about behaviour ‘against nature’ which involve extravagant and expensive displays than he is about same-sex desire.

A second example of Seneca’s views about same-sex desire comes from Seneca’s Natural Questions 1.16.1, reporting the antics of Hostius Quadra:

There was a man called Hostius Quadra, whose obscenity was even the subject of a stage performance. The divine Augustus considered this rich and greedy man, a slave to his millions, unworthy of vengeance when he was murdered by his slaves, and almost pronounced he seemed to have been killed lawfully. He was not depraved only with one sex, but was as greedy for men as for women, and made mirrors of the kind I mentioned above which reflect much bigger images, in which fingers exceed the length and width of arms. He arranged these in such a way that when he himself was enduring a man, he could see behind him all the movements of his stallion and enjoy the false length of his own member as if it were true.

Again, the theme of going against nature is upmost in Seneca’s commentary here. The critique of Hostius focuses on his misuse of mirrors and his excessive sexual desire – not the choice of sexual partner.

Working out Seneca’s views on same-sex relationships, then, has to be carefully untangled from a complicated web of widely shared social prejudices and Stoic concerns. Unfortunately, there’s far too little there on same-sex relationships specifically for us to be able to say with confidence what position he would have taken on them.

Edited on 29th September 2020, with thanks to Sophie Ngan.

August 17, 2020

Fitting the pieces together

Filed under: Teaching — lizgloyn @ 4:37 pm
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Like everyone else who will be teaching in the autumn, I am currently wrestling with how to move my teaching on-line and what the new world will look like. I think I’ve spent at least 40 hours on professional development over the last few months, what with getting up to speed on best practice for on-line learning and doing my best to respond responsibly to the Black Lives Matter protests and the increasing urgency of the need to decolonise academia in general and my classroom specifically (of which more in a different post). My current job is looking at my Moodles for the autumn and working out how best to apply them. My current brain-fog is sitting around the question of what a syllabus is actually for in a world of electronic teaching resources.

I would be the first person to confess that my use of Moodle over the years has been as a resource-dump rather than as a dynamic teaching tool. This isn’t surprising – Moodle didn’t exist when I did my undergraduate degree, and my introduction to it was much more as a repository than anything else. I was a bit more adventurous with using bulletin boards and so on for assignments when I was teaching as a PhD student, because of the more flexible assessment structure in US universities; when I got back to the UK, that flexibility went, and so did my use of Moodle for that sort of thing. (Because if there’s no grade, the students won’t do it – right?)

Fast-forward to now, a Certain Number of years on, and I am very behind on what can be done in Moodle these days, not to mention having had absolutely no training on digital pedagogy since whatever courses it was I took as a graduate student. Teaching digitally is a pedagogical specialism which can’t just be picked up; while I’ve had some excellent support from my institution for it, I’ve also put work into thinking about how best to organise a Moodle page, what the best way to structure on-line activities is, and multiple things of that nature.

One of the things I now find myself battling with, though, is what on earth a syllabus document is actually for.

In the old world (she types nostalgically), my syllabus was a comprehensive, one-stop shop for the course. It had general policy information, a schedule of classes, and then class-by-class prep work for each class so students could consult the file and have instant knowledge about what they were supposed to be doing. (Let us leave aside how often this happened for the moment, that was the point of the syllabus.) The syllabus also included bibliography, both for individual classes and for the course as a whole.

Fast-forward to the New Normal. Now, I have to have all my asynchronous activities and pre-seminar work clearly set up on Moodle for each week of teaching, so students can navigate through each week’s content independently, with only a small portion of overall learning activity being face-to-face and synchronous. My reading lists are all in our TALIS reading system, with a plug-in which lets me include a link directly in Moodle so students can click and find what they need. But I still need to have a syllabus document on my Moodle because… I still need a syllabus document. But why?

In fairness, I can see the point of having a syllabus which has some general information in it and a full schedule of the year’s learning, in a rather general sort of way, particularly since the Moodle page is not going to be built for the whole year by the start of term. (If I can get five weeks of activity built before term starts, I’ll be counting that as a victory.) But do I really need to duplicate my reading list? Do I need to have the full ‘what we’re doing each week’ seminar details when there’s going to be far more supported detail and activity on Moodle than there has been in any past year?

I suspect I would feel very differently about this question if I were not in an open-ended post, not least to make things easier when moving between institutions and having a core document with all my information handy. But as someone with institutional security (today’s governmental U-turn on A-level results not withstanding), that doesn’t feel as important now; Moodle will roll over next year, and I’ll be there to use it, so I’m pretty sure I will benefit from my work.

My solution at this point is to keep the first parts of the syllabus as they are, but to delete the detailed ‘what we are doing in each seminar’ bit – that’s going to be replicated on Moodle each week, with more interactive content, and I don’t see what the value of having a partial summary in a Word document students probably won’t pay a lot of attention to. I can also download my Moodle page as a PDF to keep a record of this year’s structure if I think that will be helpful (which it probably will be).

I suppose I’m sharing this because it’s an example of one of the small things I’m running up against in preparing for teaching next year which feels pretty straightforward in terms of making a decision but actually reveals an awful lot about some underlying assumptions about how teaching works  and is delivered. Sometimes that means asking whether what you’ve been doing… just because you’ve always been doing it is actually the best thing to do. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t be re-examining my teaching under these circumstances, but I do hope that there will be some long-term benefits that come out of it in terms of better practice around the digital environment. Although frankly, given from where I started, isn’t going to be too difficult.

July 10, 2020

On beginnings, endings, and beginning again

Filed under: Meta — lizgloyn @ 2:58 pm
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Hello, folks. It’s been a while.

Looking back on the blog, it really has been a considerable while; I’ve been pretty quiet since spring last year, apart from a few posts about Tracking Classical Monsters in Popular Culture, which was launched to a pleasing amount of acclaim last Halloween, and an announcement for a workshop which has now been indefinitely postponed in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What ostensibly draws me back is the news that some of you who follow me on social media will have seen earlier this week, namely that I have been promoted to Reader in the Classics department at Royal Holloway. I could easily do a self-congratulatory post and leave it there, but actually, I want to sit a while and do some unpicking of the tapestry.

The 2019-2020 academic year, you see, was going to be a great year. After some administrative to-ing and fro-ing, my research sabbatical had been confirmed; my son was going to start school; I was keeping my diary clear so I could make the most of tidying up old projects and getting started on the next book. It was going to be wonderful.

It didn’t turn out like that. I have since learned that quite a lot of people have stories of the Sabbatical That Went Rogue, where life decides that the moment you have a little more space to think is a perfect time to intervene and make sure you can’t. In my case, at this point we are looking at three close family bereavements (one at the start of September just before the sabbatical was due to begin), a lot of caring and support following those, my son starting school (fine under normal circumstances, challenging under these), two rounds of extended UCU strikes, and, of course, a global pandemic with the associated challenges of school-at-home. It has not been, shall we say, the most conducive environment for thinking. Or, let’s be honest, for blogging. (more…)

January 28, 2020

CFP: Ethics in the Early Stoa

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 3:11 pm
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Ethics in The Early Stoa
The Second Royal Holloway Stoicism Workshop
10am-5pm, Wednesday 1st April 2020
11 Bedford Square
London, WC1B 3RF

Call for Papers:

The division of Stoic doctrine into three parts – logic, physics and ethics – is familiar to academics working on Stoicism, as is the well-documented emphasis that the Roman Stoics placed particularly on ethical matters and how to apply Stoicism to their daily lives. However, in the conversation around Stoic ethics, the body of evidence available from the Roman period has overshadowed the attention that the early Stoa paid to ethics. Thinkers like Zeno, Aristo and Panaetius all made distinctive contributions to the ethical branch of Stoic thought.

In order to highlight the work of the early Stoa in this important and influential area, we invite proposals for papers for an informal workshop dedicated to early Stoic ethics. We welcome submissions relating to any aspect of ethics and any early Stoic thinker; possible themes could include definitions of eudaimonia, teleological ethics, oikeiōsis, the role of indifferents, practice versus theory, the role of the sage, the passions and the eupatheiai, and identifying and performing appropriate actions, although these suggestions are offered as prompts rather than as limitations.

We hope that this workshop will build on the Musonius Rufus workshop hosted in April 2019, and offer an opportunity for this with interests in Stoicism to come together, make new contacts, and think collectively about further research.

We welcome submissions from people at any stage in their career, from doctoral students and early career researchers through to more established academics. The event will take place on the first floor of Royal Holloway’s Bedford Square building, which we regret does not have lift access; full accessibility information is available from AccessAble. If anyone has specific access or dietary requirements, please contact us and we will do our best to cater for them.

Abstracts should be no more than 500 words long. Presentations will be around 30 minutes long, and followed by discussion. The deadline for abstracts is 28th February 2020.

If you are unable to attend the workshop but would like to be kept informed of future developments, please do get in touch.

Abstracts and any questions should be sent to the organizers:

Dr Liz Gloyn (Liz.Gloyn at rhul.ac.uk), Department of Classics, Royal Holloway, University of London
Dr John Sellars (John.Sellars at rhul.ac.uk), Department of Philosophy, Royal Holloway, University of London

September 25, 2019

Political monsters in reverse

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 1:55 pm
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I’ve said before that one of the side-effects of working on classical monsters in contemporary culture is that people tend to share examples they encounter while out and about. Well, a week or two ago, Helen Lovatt tagged me into a post shared by Phillip Reardon which featured an illustration of President Trump in the guise of a centaur crossed with a pig – I’m putting the image behind the cut to let you decide if you want to spare your eyes or not, and I’m afraid I don’t know who originally created the picture. I’m presuming it came from somebody’s observation on Twitter that Trump stands as if he’s a centaur without the body and hind legs – I can’t track down the original tweet to check the dates, but that idea seems to have become rather popular.

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July 30, 2019

Me on Coffee and Circuses!

Filed under: Out and about — lizgloyn @ 2:54 pm
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I was absolutely delighted to be interviewed by David Walsh for the latest episode of the Coffee and Circuses podcast. If you’ve not encountered Coffee and Circuses before,  the format is an hour or so’s chat with an academic about their current research project and the general state of the field – so obviously I had great fun talking about Tracking Classical Monsters in Popular Culture, as well as Seneca, decolonising classics and the state of my kitchen (guess which one didn’t make it into the final recording for technical reasons…)

Many thanks to David for hosting me, and I hope you enjoy listening!

July 24, 2019

The monsters are coming…

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 3:40 pm
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Tracking Classical Monsters in Popular Culture

It’s all starting to get a bit real now on the Tracking Classical Monsters front. I think I last wrote about the structure of the book when I thought it was going to look rather different, so I thought I’d take a moment to give a quick update on how it actually turned out. When I shared the original outline, not only did I think the book was going to have a different title, I also thought it was going to split nicely into two even sections. The first half of the book would do theory and overview, exploring a bit about film and television; the second half would look at four individual monsters as case studies, drawing out the consequences of the arguments made in the first half. Simple.

Alas, the book had other ideas, as I realised when writing the film chapter. It just was not going to be a single chapter, and there was no way I could condense the material down into a single chapter without horribly compromising what I was going to say. Similarly, when I got to the television chapter, I found myself with absolutely buckets to say about Hercules: The Legendary Journeys – in retrospect, I might have realised that there’d be quite a lot to say given that I had watched 111 episodes of the thing, but never mind. This is a great example of the way a project can change between your original conception of it and the final result – in this case, the source material was just so much richer than I anticipated, and I found that in order to say what I wanted to say, I needed to take more room.

Now, it was probably a bit of a blessing that I realised this in the middle of the book rather than at the end, because I was able to make adjustments to the overall plan to reflect this shift in my sense of what I wanted to include. In order to include all the things I’d found and wanted to say about the films and television, I decided that the most sensible thing to do was to cut two of the case study chapters. Sadly, the sirens and the centaurs fell by the wayside, although I did try to work them into other discussion wherever possible – hopefully I’ll be able to come back to them at a later stage when I’ve got a bit more time to look at them in detail. The Minotaur and Medusa stayed because in some ways, they are the most prolific of the ancient monsters who crossed my path while I was doing my research – not that other monsters weren’t there, of course, but these were the two who consistently got sent my way.

So there you have it – the book shifted shape not because the argument changed, but because my source material turned out to be so much more interesting than I thought it was going to be. It was a nice problem to have.

What’s next? Well, there are plans for a book launch in the works when the book is released on Halloween, so watch this space. There’s also now a Facebook group for the book, which you can like here – as well as updates on the progress of the book, I’m also using it as a place to share all the fantastic monsters who get passed on to me as the result of being A Person Who Does This Sort Of Thing. I’m sure there will be other things, but in the meantime I’m going to try and concentrate on not melting…

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