Presentation Review: Gemma Newlands “Sibling Rivalry: Roma and Constantinopolis in the 4th Century AD”

In Sibling Rivalry: Roma and Constantinopolis in the 4th Century AD, delivered on 16 January as part of the Oxford-Princeton seminar series, Gemma Newlands investigated in detail the way Rome’s relationship with the new city of Constantinople was represented in literature and art through the two cities’ respective personifications: Roma and Constantinopolis. The range of…

Punting through the English Summer

Growing up I learnt about the far-off land of Britain from me Mum, who grew up here. When she was in kindergarten, she drew a picture of a sunny green landscape with a bright blue sky. Furious, the teacher dragged mum outside, pointed at the sky and declared: “That’s not what the sky looks like. It is not…

Reading (not so) modern historians

I’ve accomplished a little bit of writing for my thesis. The most urgent problem is no longer quantity, but quality, which is a step forward. As I polish up the literature review, I have been dealing with a lot of nineteenth century scholarship on Sicily. There are many Germans, fewer Italians than you’d expect, and a couple of…

Question Time

One of the chief rituals of the Oxonienses is the assembly of scholars and students to listen or approximate the act of listening to a person talk about something they (correctly or not) believe is important and interesting for an hour. These assemblies are known as “seminars”, “papers”, “panels” or “colloquia”, or “symposia” – almost…

English New Year

It is nearing the end of the holiday period at Oxford. Next week will be noughth week (under no circumstances to be referred to as zeroeth week) and then we will begin Hillary Term. People are dribbling back in. New Year’s resolutions will soon be wrecked by the return of Hasan’s. A retrospective on the…

On Expatriotism

The weird thing about living in Britain is that most of the time it’s not very weird. On the whole, everything works basically the same way as I expect it to: I don’t get run over if I look right before looking left, alcohol’s still legal, and nobody would shoot me if I had political…

Roaming in Rome

(Nobody’s ever thought of that pun before) Since the 1600s, Oxford students with more money than sense have been disappearing off to the Continent for Grand Tours – pleasure trips, disguised as education. These last few weeks I’ve been extraordinarily busy preparing work-in-progress seminars, studying languages, or whatever it is that I claim that I do,…