A cathedral field trip

One of my academic specialisms is the study of inscriptions, otherwise known as epigraphy. Most of the material I work with is epigraphic, and sometimes this is one of the biggest challenges in my work. Learning how to read inscriptions is a skill that you need to learn by trial-and-error and, ideally, by having someone with…

Nurses and “milk-buddies” in Roman epitaphs

One of my favourite things about the Roman death course I’m teaching this year is that every week teaches me something I never knew before. A few weeks ago, while I was translating some epitaphs to use in a lecture, a particular word caught my eye. The inscription ran: Rottio hic sit[us es]t iuve/nili robore…

How I write a lecture

This term has involved a lot of lecture writing for me. Planning, writing and teaching two brand-new courses at the same time has been brilliant fun so far, but also lots of work. Talking to colleagues, I’ve realised that not all of us take the same approach to writing new courses – and talking to…

New Module: Roman Death

This term, I’ve been doing something pretty new for me – planning an 11-week course on Roman Death for 70 first and second year students, complete with 22 hours of lectures and 5 seminars. It’s a big task, both for me and for the students, so it’s lucky that our subject is completely inexhaustible. We’ve…

My 2015 in review

I’m following the lead of the excellent Liz Gloyn and Ellie Mackin and looking back over the past year. It’s all too easy to forget all the achievements and milestones of the past year – when I was a PhD student I was encouraged to write a list of everything I’d done at the end of…

The problem with long alpha

This week, a lot of us who teach Classical Philology and Linguistics at Cambridge have been teaching our first essay of the first year course on the sounds of Greek and Latin. I had a request from a student for a good example of the difference between long and short alpha, which really stumped me for a…

My Own Exam Howlers

Around this time of year, academics are breathing a sigh of relief that exams (and exam marking) are over. At about the same time, newspapers often invite people to send in their students’ funniest “exam howlers”. Rather than revealing their students’ mistakes, academics on twitter have generously responded to this yearly demand for “howlers” by…