Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

on my holidays

Hey! I just got back from a weekend in Antwerp, staying with my and J's friend Inez, who - awesomely - is a nomadic writer going from place to place, residency to residency, across Europe and the States and India. And she just sent us this link to a YouTube video of an interview she did for Antwerp TV, which shows the very flat that we stayed in with her, as well bits and pieces of the city, which is beautiful.

(It was a great weekend, thanks. We had the obligatory long discussion about Kids Today And Their Essays, which was highly enjoyable, and also some fantastic rambling talk about science and religion and Communism over tapas, and J and Inez are both writing memoirs so I got to eavesdrop on a lot of writers' talk, which I enjoy. And we drank Belgian beer and looked at statues and parks with baby bunnies, and stunning Art Nouveau architecture, and I bought some new jeans, so that was a successful trip.)

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

bit of cyberactivism

Also, I'd ask everyone living in the UK to consider writing to their MPs and/or the Home Secretary about Marina Silva and Rosa de Perez, two women working as cleaners at SOAS (part of the University of London) who are facing deportation: several of their colleagues have already been deported, in some cases breaking up family relationships here in the UK. The deportations were carried out in an unnecessarily aggressive and possibly illegal way, and timed to coincide with a planned rally by the cleaners in support of their recently sacked Union rep. In a newspaper article here, the Labour MP John McDowell says:

As living wage campaigns are building in strength, we are increasingly seeing the use of immigration statuses to attack workers fighting against poverty wages and break trade union organising.

The message is that they are happy to employ migrant labour on poverty wages, but if you complain they will send you back home. It is absolutely shameful.

There is lots of information about the case here, with details about how to contact your MP and the UK Border Agency. The academic solidarity statement is kind of heartening.


This is interesting. More a note to myself to read it properly when my brane hasn't just been clubbed to bits by a three-hour exams board meeting (though actually it was infinitely smooth, efficient and pleasant, but still three hours long. Also I was up at 6am because I stayed in London last night and had to get back to Bristol for a 9:30 meeting).

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

oh yeah and superkids

Is a full-on thriller (full of people tightening their grip on their browning semi-automatic pistol and becoming enthralled by the quality of the workmanship on the golden bracelet known as the Seneghor Serpent while all around them security alarms go off), with a pretty wince-inducing construction of race. I've only read a few pages so far but I see from leafing ahead that a girl called Bonnie is about to appear, and the sight of her name produces a bit of a warm glow in my heart, so we'll see.

Monday, 15 June 2009


Still here, still writing. Actually I printed out a complete (so far: missing four 'interludes', which are going to be brief readings of particular passages of Latin which serve as transitions between the five chapters, and an introduction) draft of N&R the other day and read through it, which was nerve-wracking, but you know, I think it's okay. Well, it's like there's a narrow, perilous bridge of thinking-it's-okay over a cavernous abyss of doom in which I think I should be more scholarly, more relevant, more poetic/difficult, more lucid, more disciplined, more wild... But sometimes a narrow perilous bridge is all you need.

Other stuff that's going on: I have two conference papers to write (both for July, one on queer family in Diana Wynne Jones and one on sovereign violence in Lucan) and a fifty-minute paper (probably a version of the Doctor Who: Fires of Pompeii Latin-as-time-travel paper) for the Classical Association of Victoria. I'm behind on my postgrad supervisions because it's the end of the undergraduate marking season (sorry postgrads), and looking forward to getting to those: this year I'm supervising a PhD on ideology and phenomenology in Tacitus' Agricola and one on Penguin Classics, and MA dissertations on: (1) social control/propaganda in contemporary advertising techniques and Vergil's Aeneid; (2) memory, secrecy and revelation in Augustine's Confessions; (3) the construction of Hollywood cinema in the novels of Carl Van Vecht; and (4) appropriations of Plato and contestations over the meaning of 'Greek love' in the work of John Adyngton Simonds Addington Symonds, whose name I should learn to spell. I'm also working on a new third-year undergraduate unit I'll be teaching next year, 'Literature's Children', on childhood/children in literature (including children as implied readers), which is fun but involves a huge amount of reading. Oh, though, I am reading Carolyn Steedman's Strange Dislocations: Childhood and the Idea of Human Interiority, 1760-1930 and it is really, really interesting and thought-provoking: I hope we can get her to come to Bristol and talk about reception.

The other main thing that's going on is this: I'm starting to realize that despite the fact that it's after we get back from Australia, September is still, unfairly, going to happen. I'm supposed to spend the month holed up doing final revisions on N&R, but I notice that in my insouciant disbelief in the existence of the bloody month, (1) I've agreed to chair a panel at a very excellent postgrad conference in Bristol, (2) the research group I head up (Word Unbecoming Flesh: Beyond Text, Across Media [link is to a pdf document, scroll down to p.2]) is doing two or three biggish events, (3) I really want to give a paper at a conference in memory of Don Fowler (an amazing, amazing Latin literature/literary theory person), and (4) I've just agreed (subject to funding) to be keynote speaker at a postgrad conference in, er, Melbourne. That's right! Four weeks after I get back from six weeks in Melbourne, I will be flying out there again for, like, five days! But the theme of the conference is 'cultural capital' which is a subject dear to my heart, and plus, invitation to keynote, what could be more flattering than that?

And then in November, another conference, this time in the States and part of the 'imperialisms ancient and modern' series, where I am not keynoting because Homi Bhabha is keynoting. Which, squee.

Friday, 5 June 2009


I've just realized, I've been working on this book for a quarter of my life.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


So when I was little, there was this book I really loved, called Superkids by Michael Maguire. (You can tell I really loved it because I haven't read it since I was about ten and I still remember the author's name.) I can't remember that much about it, except that it was about a bunch of gifted children - were they super-clever or super-physically-gifted or something? It was published in 1978, Google tells me, and I seem to remember that it was very much that sort of 70s/80s children's superhero team grouping - a white able-bodied guy in the lead, with a mix of sidekicks involving femaleness, blackness, and disability somewhere. (Often a black female, freeing up more people to be white and male. In this case I'm pretty sure there was a black able-bodied boy and someone in a wheelchair.) Anyway, they... solved a mystery and saved the world in some way. And I think at some point in the course of events someone rode a motorbike onto a yacht. (But I just saw that happen yesterday in Tombraider 1, which I am currently playing on my ancient Playstation, so maybe I am confabulating that.) There was definitely some kind of motorcycle stunt, anyway.

Anyway, every now and then I think ooh, I'd like to read that again, but today was the first time I had that thought while being near a computer, so I had a google for it: Abebooks don't have any copies, Alibris don't have any copies, eBay don't have any copies, has one used copy for a hundred and eight dollars wtf (I mean, I don't think - with all apologies to Michael Maguire - that it was actually all that good. In terms of being a long-lasting children's classic or anything.) But the eBay search page (here) tells me that 'people who like Superkids by Michael Maguire' - and remember that we are here dealing with a children's thriller from 1978 - 'also like Go Fish [DVD] and Magical Moments from Great Musicals'.

So everyone else who liked it grew up to enjoy either/both lesbian independent film or musicals. That... probably explains a lot.

[ETA: An awesome person with more google-fu than me (thank you, G!) has directed me to a copy for sale for £6, so I have one on the way now! I will let you know what it's like.]