It is about time for a new interview! This week it is featuring Catherine Steel, Professor at the University of Glasgow and Adjunct Member of the new FIEC Board:
1. What is your current position at the University of Glasgow?
I am Professor of Classics in the subject area of Classics, which is part of the School of Humanities. I am also at the moment Dean of Research for the College of Arts.
2. What does your research focus on?
I work on the political history of the Roman Republic and on Roman oratory. That means Cicero, of course, but also the many other orators of the Republic whose speeches don’t survive – or survive only in fragments – but whose activity is attested in other sources.
3. What made you study the ancient world?
I was lucky enough to be able to study Latin and Greek at school, and it was because of the inspiring teachers there (South Hampstead High School in London) that I decided to study Classics at University. Once my knowledge of Latin was good enough to read and not just stumble through a text word by word, I found myself entranced by Cicero’s oratory, and things developed from there.
4. What is your job as Adjunct Member of the FIEC board?
As an Adjunct Member of the Bureau, my job is to contribute to board discussions and advise the officers. There is also the opportunity to tell the national Classics community in the U.K., where I’m based, about FIEC’s work and encourage U.K.-based scholars to participate in its activities. The 2019 FIEC meeting in London has made that side of the job much easier!
5. One of the main objectives of FIEC is to foster cooperation among classical scholars! Where do you see the future for classicists in that regard?
Co-operation is vital for the future of the discipline. Open exchange of ideas is fundamental to the humanities; and, more specifically, tackling big research ideas requires co-operation between specialists with different expertise. There are huge opportunities in terms of funding for collaborative research which classicists should be seeking to exploit; and increasingly we need to engage in research across disciplinary boundaries. The humanities need to be part of the effort to tackle big societal changes, and classicists and ancient historians have a great deal to contribute here – more than perhaps sometimes we realise. But we need to be open to new definitions of our discipline, which embrace areas and approaches outside traditional conceptions of Classics, and to new ways of doing the subject.
6. Another very important objective is to point out the relevance of classical studies to governmental authorities. What do you consider to be the biggest challenges as well as opportunities for classics?
The perennial challenge is ‘relevance’: why should people today still be interested in the Classics, let alone in classical Greek and in Latin? As a discipline we have good answers to those questions and we need to proclaim them confidently and in ways that respond to the different contexts in which they are asked. The opportunities, I firmly believe, lie in combining a confidence in the value of our research with a willingness to work with others across the Academy.