We're just a little short of the halfway point at the conference, and so far it’s been really good. As far as anyone knows, there’s never been a conference on this theme before, so everyone is super-enthusiastic! There’s a great variety of talks and I’m looking forward to hearing more from authors later in the week.
Highlights so far have included a fascinating talk from Abigail Baker about using narrative fiction – specifically Caroline Lawrence’s Roman Mysteries – to bring museum exhibits to life. I think this is a brilliant idea. I remember going around Greece on a school trip when I was a teenager and knew nothing at all about ancient Greece and being thoroughly bored. Our teacher insisted that we must pay more attention in the museums, so we all decided to pretend that we were, in fact, the gods in disguise (or something to that effect) and all the statues, vases etc were actually of us – thus rendering them much more interesting! (And ensuring our places in the Crazy Hall of Fame). Using a properly written and thoroughly researched, engaging story is an even better idea. Obviously, the texts have to be chosen carefully (or, alternatively, any artistic licence taken by the text pointed out) but I believe Caroline’s books are very well researched and entirely suitable (Caroline, I’m afraid I have to confess, I have not yet read them – they are at the top of my list of Things To Read After The Thesis Is Submitted!)
Lisa Maurice’s paper on Greek and Latin classes in girls’ and boys’ school fiction was also really interesting – I hadn’t really thought about it before, but the attitude of boys to Latin (it killed off all the Romans and now it’s killing me) is very different from that of girls. Tracy Barrett offered a fascinating (and, to a potential future author, very useful) insight into the difficulty of selecting material and dealing with adult topics in books designed to be read by children but purchased by adults. I also really enjoyed Deborah Kerr’s paper on the presentation of Jason and Medea in children’s compendia of myth (and would have done even if she wasn’t a good friend of mine, whose paper we have discussed it in the pub a few times!)
I should point out that all the papers I have been able to see have been really good – these are edited highlights, but I haven’t seen a bad one yet! Unfortunately, I can’t go to everything – with a final draft of my thesis due at the end of July, I’m having to spend a lot of time in my room working on my Introduction. Hopefully I won’t have to miss too much – and hopefully my paper on Thursday will go OK and I won’t come away with any bad memories! (The fear of humiliation during the question portion is ever present...)
Really old, really blurry picture of Delphi from our school trip, winter 2000, before I had heard of digital cameras. It snowed while we were there - not a weather condition I usually associate with Greece!