2016 was pretty awful for many, many people and I wasn’t really any different. Like many people I was devastated by the Brexit vote in June, and around that time I’d also reached the conclusion that my academic career was very sadly probably over, after having not secured a 12-month full-time contract for the 2016/17 year. This was a really tough time for me, especially after coming so close to winning a Leverhulme. I felt really dejected and down about the prospect of my career, although I kept up my research (in part because I just didn’t know what else to do, and in part, because I find a lot of comfort and calm in doing it). I felt uneasy about the direction I was trying to push my book in, and that certainly didn’t help my overall frame of mind about my academic career.
But, there was some good stuff in the year too. I started my YouTube channel, and I’m still definitely in the learning and growing phase of video making. I’m really enjoying doing that and looking forward to taking that into my next adventure.
I got to teach some new things at King’s and tried out some exciting classroom activities and teaching techniques. In part, I think, this was pushed by the knowledge that this may well have been the last time I taught. I almost felt obliged to try out some of the stuff I’d always wanted to do in my classroom, but never before felt I had the freedom or authority. This term I not only had the freedom to play but also had the confidence in my experience to give some new stuff a go. By and large, there were more successes than not-successes in that, so I’m pretty pleased.
I made a huge decision about my book that saw me decide to not resubmit it to a UP and instead entirely rethink it and submit it to another press. I was hoping to hear back about the review before the end of the year - but I knew it was a bit of a long-shot (especially given the closure over Christmas and New Year!). Hopefully, that might be the first big news of 2017.
On publishing, though, I did get the first piece of my PhD research accepted to a proper grown up journal. I submitted the corrected proofs just before the Christmas closure, so my article should appear on the advanced articles page pretty soon. It’s called ‘Girls Playing Persephone (in Marriage and Death)’ and looks at two different cases of girls imitating Persephone to undergo status change.
At present, it’s hard to start properly planning 2017 because I just don’t know what I’ll be doing in a specific sense. In a general sense, though, I’m really happy to be joining the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester as a Teaching Fellow in Ancient History from January 16th.
I’ll also be heading to the Classical Association annual conference in April to present some work on the sensorial experience of the young girls who attend Athena Polias, and that will form the basis of the next big article I hope to publish. I’ve obviously got Reciprocity and Death under review at the moment, and I’m also preparing a proposal for a short edition on Hades. I'm keeping publishing plans short and specific for this year. I want to use this time to clear the decks a bit, before really starting on Belief, Behaviour, and Belonging in ernest once everything else is wrapped up. One of my biggest issues this year has been trying to do too many things at once - jumping about a bit. It's worked well, but if I want to start getting things from 90% there to Finished then I need to spend some time tying up those lose ends. By the end of 2017 I want to be finished with my PhD research, and have a truly clean slate to move onto B3.
I can’t say too much about 2017 at the moment because I just don’t know. For the first time in a really long time, though, that’s kind of an exciting sense of ‘just not knowing’, rather than a terrified sense of ‘Having No Bloody Clue’.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me this year – to my family, Andrew, my daughter, my mentors, my friends, Twitter, readers of my blog and viewers of my videos. Thank you. And, let’s get going on 2017!