The image of the tweed-clad classicist sitting, isolated in their personal library, surrounded by Greek and Latin texts and writing by hand, or perhaps on a typewriter, could not today be further from the truth. Digital classics is a booming part of the discipline, encompassing a range of international projects such as the Open University’s Research Cluster on Digital Classics and Tufts University’s Perseus Project, to name but two. As a classicist I regularly utilise such resources. However, I’m not a so-called ‘straight classicist’ but one who researches reception studies, or the ways in which the classics are received by later societies, and consequently am doubly exposed, as it were, to digital technologies.
My academic area is the reception of ancient tragedy in contemporary theatre, and specifically avant-garde productions of tragedy that can be labeled site-specific, immersive, or postdramatic. When researching new productions I often utilise online databases such as the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman drama, I watch videos of performances such as these, or speak to theatre practitioners via email or even on twitter. Being at the centre of so many different forms of digital humanities, and utilising such a range of new technologies recently got me thinking about how I too could utilise digital media to disseminate my research, and what other types of online resources could be created. Thus, in March 2015 my PhD Vlog was born.
Classicist Emma Cole shares her advice on academic videos.
Video blogs, or vlogs, are predominantly the domain of fashion, beauty, and fitness professionals, but to me they seem an untapped medium for academics too. Since I began experimenting with vlogs, academics, academics’ spouses, students, librarians, and interested individuals from other professions have tuned in and watched me struggle with a chapter, triumph over a chapter, define postdramatic theatre, share my teaching preparation strategies, and attend and present at an academic conference. I’m hopeful that the vlogs I’ve uploaded will be long-term a resource for students wanting to see what academia is like, for colleagues to compare and contrast with their own journeys, and for people outside academia wanting to see what being a modern classicist or academic really looks like. And I think you should get in on the action, too, by joining my conversation and even creating your own vlog, for all the reasons outlined in this video.
Emma Cole is a third year PhD candidate in the Department of Greek and Latin at University College London (UCL). She previously completed a BA Hons at Sydney University, and an MA in Reception of the Classical World at UCL. Her doctoral thesis explores the reception of ancient tragedy in postdramatic theatre. She previously completed research on Katie Mitchell’s productions of Greek tragedy, co-convened the UCL/Gate Theatre 2013-14 Theatre Translation Forum and has a forthcoming publication for the former project. You can subscribe to Emma’s video channel and stay up-to-date with her future vlogs, follow her on Twitter, and read more about her academic work.