We have received an open call of interest from John Brendan Knight MA, Postgraduate Research Student University of Liverpool School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology:

Accessibility beyond the Academy: Inclusion in Contemporary Classics


August 6th – 9th 2020 (provisionally)

Dear Colleagues,

I am sure many of you, like myself, are currently experiencing the disappointment of having conferences and seminars cancelled due to the outbreaks of Covid-19 being experienced across the world. While the plight of those suffering from this illness and their friends and families is utmost within our minds, I and many others will still feel a sense of disappointment at the cancelation or postponement of these events and the missed opportunities to disseminate our work, engage in dialogue with peers, learn new things and spend time with old and new friends alike. Beyond the Covid-19 outbreak we must also recognize our responsibilities regarding the climate emergency. The contribution of international travel to CO2 emissions is significant and damaging and this is a responsibility that we, as scholars, thinkers and humans, must take seriously.

The current climate must also force us to think about our traditional modes of practice; how we teach, how we research, and above all how we learn. We cannot ignore that at these events we are only ever really meeting and talking to people who have similar social and educational backgrounds and access to resources as ourselves.

In this sense traditional conference and seminar formats can act as exclusionary mechanisms. Individuals such as teachers, disadvantaged pupils, undergraduate students, those with caring responsibilities, disabled people, people outside the academy and those in non-traditional roles can be excluded from these forums for a variety of reasons. Some may lack access to the necessary resources, while others may be unable to attend because of venue choice, time restrictions or nonacademic commitments. Subsequently, their ideas, experiences and insights are often be overlooked, undervalued or irretrievably lost.

It is not just a case of listening to those voices otherwise silenced by traditional research and education paradigms but working together to create spaces which allow for meaningful dialogue.

While I count myself fortunate in the opportunities afforded to me, I also have some personal experience of the difficulties of participating in traditional knowledge exchange forums. For almost a decade I have had to balance my studies and research with full-time employment in a non-academic role, then as a stay-athome full-time care giver for my infant son, all while living within a relatively small rural community removed from the day-to-day life of my parent institution.

No doubt I am not alone in my reliance on digital platforms to communicate, disseminate and access material without which it would be almost impossible for me to pursue my research. Despite the commonality of these experiences and the potential for voices of those in non-traditional learning contexts to be lost, there seems to be limited effort to widen participation in international knowledge exchanges such as conferences, workshops and seminars.

Therefore, it is my intention to organise an international e-conference focusing on the subject of inclusion in Classics, Ancient History, archaeology and related disciplines. The medium and topic are intended to offer a forum for those from non-traditional and traditional backgrounds to participate equally.

But to do so I need your help!

At this preliminary stage I am looking to gauge interest in such an event and to that end I would be grateful to hear from anyone who would like to be considered as:

Organisers – experience in hosting or organizing e-conferences or webinars would be useful but is not required. I would like this to be a learning experience for all. This is a particularly important role, the assistance, enthusiasm and experience of others is vital to making this a rewarding experience for all.

Committee Members – Anyone who could spare some time to help look over paper and session proposals would be greatly appreciated, again experience is not necessary.

Panel Chairs – Those who would like to participate but are, for whatever reason, unable to offer a paper would be more than welcome to chair a panel.

Presenters – While suggested topics are provided below all relevant papers will be given consideration. Those who would like to organise a panel are very welcome to provide an outline and proposed speakers.

Participants – I would like to encourage as many people as possible to engage with the conference and so anyone who would like to attend is more than welcome to get in touch.

I would be particularly grateful to those who would be open to undertaking any of these roles as some may garner more interest than others. It does not matter whether you are an undergraduate or senior academic, outside the academy altogether, or just have a good idea, I would like to hear from everyone with an interest in participating and the roles set out are open to all. Furthermore, I would welcome any ideas for how to make the conference a more rewarding experience for all, including other necessary roles, ideas for panels or sessions and activities such as museum, site e-tours and workshops.

I am interested in hearing from anyone who would like to present a paper on any aspect of inclusion in Classical Studies and is cognate disciplines. I am particularly interested in presenters who would like to speak on novel approaches to teaching and dissemination in both digital and analogue formats, the roles of non-traditional classics and classicists in informing our thinking, inclusionary and exclusionary strategies in ancient and contemporary contexts, the role of space in inclusion and exclusion, identity and inclusivity in ancient and contemporary contexts, and strategies for accessibility. Suggested panels include:

Digital Classics

Inclusion in Classics Teaching

Non-traditional Classics

Classics and Open-Access

Inclusion and Exclusion in the Ancient World

Gender and Classics

LGBTQ+ Classics

Identity in the Ancient World

Race and Ethnicity in Contemporary Classics

Accessible Classics

Proposals for other panels are very welcome as are papers on other subjects which fall under the broader rubric of inclusion.

The dates set out above are provisional and though I cannot accommodate everybody, I am flexible and open to all ideas including alternative dates and times.

The conference will be offered through Microsoft Teams 365™ which offers the appropriate features to host such an event.

Any questions, feedback, offers, abstracts, proposals or other communications can be sent to: [email protected]

At this stage there is no deadline for getting in contact. Once I have gauged interest I will send out circular to all potential participants providing dates, media and other information.

It remains for me to thank everyone for reading this communication and to wish you, your family and friends good health.

All the best,

John Brendan Knight MA

Postgraduate Research Student University of Liverpool School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology