Today on Ujima – Marlon, Periods, Queer Film & IWD

I began today’s show with some extracts from Marlon James’ Tolkien Lecture. You can listen to the whole thing here.

The second segment was an interview with Chloe Tingle of No More Taboo, the period poverty charity. We talked about how Bristol is leading the way in tackling period poverty, about a course that Chloe will be running in Bristol next week, and about how a film about periods won an Oscar. If you want to go on the course, booking details are here.

In segment 3 I was joined in the studio by Harry Silverlock of the Palace International Film Festival, queer film festival which originated in Poland (in an actual mediaeval palace) and is coming to Bristol next week. It sounds like a really great event. I’m particuarly pleased with how diverse the selection of films is.

Finally I was joined by Lisa Whitehouse who has an International Women’s Day event on Saturday to promote. It is going to be at Hannah Moore Infants School on Saturday but there’s an issue with the Facebook presence right now so I can’t link to it. The most important think is that Lisa assures me it is trans-inclusive, unlike certain other IWD events I could mention.

You can listen to the whole show here.

The music today was largely devoted to remembering the great Jackie Shane who died peacefully in her sleep last month aged 78. It is good to know that some trans women of color can live long lives. Here’s the full playlist:

  • Jackie Shane – You Are My Sunshine
  • Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower
  • Liane la Havas – Midnight
  • Santana – Flor D’Luna
  • Andy Allo – Angels Make Love
  • Jackie Shane – Money
  • Jackie Shane – I’ve Really Got the Blues
  • Jackie Shane – Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag
  • Jackie Shane – Any Other Way

Marlon James’ Tolkien Lecture

I spent Tuesday night in Oxford attending this year’s JRR Tolkien Memorial Lecture on Fantasy Fiction. This year’s guest lecturer was Marlon James, whose Black Leopard, Red Wolf I reviewed here. Along the way I got to catch up with many friends including Olivette Otele, Stephanie Saulter, and of course Juliet McKenna. (Green Man 2 is progressing well; thank you for asking.)

I was hoping to get an interview with Marlon for Ujima, but sadly his schedule was too packed. However, I did get to chat with him briefly. We talked mostly about the X-Men. If anyone at Marvel is reading this, you need to get him to write for you. Seanan, Nnedi, please put in a good word for him.

The lovely folks at Pembroke have now posted the video of the lecture, so you can get to enjoy Marlon as well. I hope you find him as erduite and entertaining as I did.

Classics Evolves

My final LGBT History Month event of 2019 was one that I was not speaking at. It was organised by my good friends Jana Funke and Jen Grove from the University of Exeter to celebrate the launch of their new book, Sculpture, Sexuality and History. It is a niche interest, but it does overlap with the history of robots as fictional entities. I need to read it for a talk I am giving later this year.

As part of the festivities, Jana & Jen invited three graduates students to give a seminar. They provided three great papers.

Rebecca Mellor talked about secret collections of “erotic” objects at museums, and how a museum makes the decision to class something as erotic. Interestingly the decision can often depend far more on who donated the object than on what it looks like.

Mara Gold’s talk was about how Western lesbians from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries used references to Sappho and Ancient Greek culture in general as code for their sexuality. I learned a lot. I had no idea that Hope Mirlees and Sylvia Townsend Warner were lesbians. And there’s another person who deserves a whole blog post of her own.

Finally we had Georgina Barker who talked about the Russian poet, Elena Shvarts, whose Sappho-influenced work scandalised mid-20th Century USSR. That’s less of interest to me, but Georgina and I spent quite a bit of time chatting about Scythians, who also fall into the Russia-Classics crossover.

On getting home I found email inviting me to view a colloquium on Diversifying Classics at the College of Charleston. South Carolina is perhaps not the place that would immediately spring to mind when considering progressive views of the Classics, but it turns out that it is an excellent event. The whole thing is available on Farcebook.

Rebecca Futo Kennedy talked about how the idea of “Western Civilisation” was invented by white people in the 19th Century. This is particularly ironic because at the time both Greeks and Italians tended to get views as “black”.

Arum Park talked about the need for women and people of color to revisit translations of ancient works. The white male bias that the likes of Emily Wilson and Maria Dahvana Headly have identied in translations of The Odyssey and Beowulf respectively are starting to look like the tip of a very large iceberg.

Nandini Pandey talked about the multicultural nature of the Roman Empire and what we can learn from how Rome went about encouraging multiculturalism. I think she let Polemo and the Physionomists off a little lightly on the origins of racism, but other than that she too was great. Romans and Greeks, of course, were Mediterranean people and thus compared themselves to those lighter skinned than themselves as well as those darker. They tended to assume that they were a perfect mixture of the two extremes. A good example is Vitruvius who was an architect. He wrote about how climate affected both building requirements and the people who lived in different parts of the world. According to him (Book 6, Chapter 1) people from hot climates tend to be smart but cowardly, while those from cold climates tend to be stupid and brave.

The final talk by Jim Newhard is also good, but it primarily of interest to people who work in Classics departments.

And finally, while I was watching Dr. Pandey’s talk my Twitter feed threw up links to New Classicists, a very interesting new journal run by post-grad students at Kings, London.

It is great to see Classics doing all of this stuff. Much of it is, of course, prompted by the likes of Steve Bannon and Boris Johnson using the ancient world to prop up their white surpremacist ideas, but it needs doing anyway. Also the more we can learn about the ancient world beyond the narrow confines of Greece and Rome the better. The Roman Empire’s trading links were extensive and all of the cultures that they met, conquered or traded with deserve study too.

New Book – Contains Me

This is going to be a very busy week for book announcements. We’ll have something coming from Wizard’s Tower tomorrow, and an anthology I have a story in is being published on Thursday. Before that, however, there is this book.

As you can see, it is not by me, but I do have a short essay in it. The book covers a wide range of trans issues, including history. I get to write about transgender Romans. In a proper university text book. How cool is that?

Huge thanks should go to Ardel for including me. We met at the Moving Trans History Forward conference in Victoria, BC in 2016. As Ardel teaches in San Francisco, Kevin and I immediately bonded with them. We were all there again last year, and this year Ardel is over my side of the pond. We’ll both be on a panel about trans history at the Outing the Past academic conference at the end of March.

Anyway, enough about us. You want to know about the book. It is available now in the USA. It is very reasonably priced for an academic textbook. And you can get 30% off with the special offer mentioned here. UK people, you can probably buy from the publisher too, but postage may be an issue. The paperback won’t be available here until March 5th, but the Kindle edition is available now.

This Week’s #LGBTHM Events

The event in Taunton on Saturday went off very well, and we are now full steam ahead into LGBT History Month. Here’s a reminder of what I’m doing this week.

On Wednesday I will have an LGBTHM special edition of my radio show. That will include interviews from Saturday (one of which is with Caroline Paige), gay author Alan Robert Clark, and former Bristol MP Stephen Williams.

Later on Wednesday I’m going to talk to civil servants, but that’s not open to the public.

On Thursday I will be at the University of Bristol (35 Berkerly Square HWB, Room 2.26) from 14:00 to 15:00 talking about Hadrian and his times. The talk is titled: “At the Court of the Rainbow Emperor: How gay, lesbian and intersex people flourished under Hadrian’s rule.” Free tickets are available here.

And on Saturday I will be at the Senedd Building in Cardiff with the Amazon Horde. I note that Wales are playing in Italy late that afternoon so some rugby-watching is likely to happen after the event.

The 2019 #LGBTHM Tour

February is almost upon us. Here’s what I think is my final(-ish) schedule.

Friday 1st: Flag raising at City Hall in Bristol, followed by a reception in the Lord Mayor’s Chapel. All welcome.

Saturday 2nd: An event at the library in Taunton. I will be talking about Spartans. The OutStories Bristol traveling exhibition is on display, and my colleague Robert Howes is speaking as well.

Wednesday 6th: I’ll be doing Women’s Outlook on Ujima. It will be an LGBTHM special and will feature former local MP, Stephen Williams, talking about being gay in Parliament. I’m also doing a talk about Michael Dillon for some civil servants in the afternoon.

Thursday 7th: I’m doing a talk about Hadrian and his time at Bristol University. Not sure if this one is open or not. Update: yes it is. Also via Eventbrite.

Saturday 9th: I will be at the LGBTHM event at the Senedd Building in Cardiff, talking about Amazons.

Thursday 14th: I will be at Queens University, Belfast talking about trans people in ancient Mesopotamia. (And for potential Worldcon attendees, I’m traveling via Dublin and the Enterprise.)

Saturday 16th: The LGBTHM event at M Shed in Bristol. Full line-up here. I will be talking to performance storyteller, Rachel Rose Reid, about the Romance of Silence, a mediaeval Arthurian tale featuring a non-binary protagonist. If all goes well, Rachel will be performing part of the story in Bristol that evening.

Thursday 28th: I’ll be attending a book launch at Exeter University. The book in question is Sculpture, Sexuality and History, edited by my ear friends Jana Funke and Jen Grove. There’s also a mini academic conference that includes Mara Gold talking about actual Lesbians (as in ancient Greeks from Lesbos).

In amongst all of this I’m also attending Farah’s Historical Fiction Research Network conference in Manchester where I’m talking about steampunk.

I’d like to say that I will be spending March lying down, but LGBTHM has a habit of scope creep and I’m definitely planning to be in Belfast on the final weekend for the Outing the Past academic conference, always assuming that the country isn’t under martial law at the time, which is starting to look increasingly likely.

Awards Eligibility Post

As you may have noticed, the Hugo Award nominating period has opened for this year. Consequently everyone is making eligibility posts. I wasn’t too fussed about that until I discovered that Jim Fitzpatrick is designing this year’s trophy base. As he is one of my favorite artists, I can’t wait to see what it looks like. And obviously I would love to have one.

Unfortunately I haven’t done much award-worthy in the past year. I have been too busy doing trans stuff. Technically I am eligible for Fan Writer, but I have done so little that it would be wrong to nominate me. And anyway, I have one of those already.

I do have one published short story from last year. It is called “A Piece of the Puzzle” and it appeared in the anthology, The Hotwells Horror, which a bunch of us put together to celebrate the life of the late David J Rodger. The story is set in Prohibition-era New York and features a young woman called Sonia Greene who has ambitions to be a writer. All of the profits from the sale of the book go to the mental health charity, MIND, so you would be doing a good thing by buying a copy.

It also occurs to me that my keynote speech from Worlding SF is a Related Work of sorts. You can watch the whole thing for free here.

Most importantly, however, The Green Man’s Heir is an eligible novel. Competition in the Hugos is fierce, but I would love to see Juliet appear in the also-ran list. And if you happen to be a member of the British Fantasy Society, you know what you need to do.

Coming Soon: #LGBTHM 2019

Yes, no sooner have I got the New Year out of the way than it is time to think about February. And in the UK February means LGBT History Month. As usual, OutStories Bristol will be partnering with M Shed to put on a day of talks. It is on Saturday, Feb. 16th. There’s more information about that here. The full list of talks will be available soon. I’m very excited about some of them. Especially the one about the non-binary character in a mediaeval romance.

Meanwhile my calendar is filling up with other engagements. On February 2nd I will be at Taunton Library talking about the Spartans. And then there’s this:

Yes, the Amazon Horde is back in the saddle for 2019, and we are going to Cardiff. I get to give a talk in the Senedd Building. It’s the first thing I have done in my life that I wish my mum and dad could be there to see.

Other dates are currently being negotiated.

Not exactly LGBT History, but on Feb. 22/23 I will be in Manchester for the Historical Fiction Research Network conference where I am giving a paper on steampunk.

And finally at the end of March I will be in Belfast for the Outing the Past conference where I will be going into some detail on some of the research that came out of the Amazons paper. Actual Latin analysis! Thank goodness for Liz Gloyn who is so much better at this stuff than I am. And Margaux Spruyt who understands horses.

At UVic: Trans Speculative Fiction in Independent Media

When Kevin and I were in Canada for the Moving Trans History Forward conference this year, one of the people we met was Charles Ledbetter. It used to be the case that I was pretty much the only person talking about trans characters in speculative fiction, but now there are at least three people doing PhDs in the subject, all of them trans identified. Charles is one of them.

A unique feature of Charles’ research is that they are looking, not at works that get wide distribution (which up until recently meant works written by cis people, for cis people), but at works published by independent presses, in fanzines, and self-pubished material. Charles rightly surmised that they would find much earlier examples of trans-authored works this way. Consequently, even though they are based at the University of Tübingen in Germany, Charles is spending time in Victoria going through the archives looking for material.

If you happen to know of anything that would fit the type of work Charles is looking for, I’m sure they would love to know. Bogi Takács and I have both been corresponding with Charles, and Kevin has suggested a bunch of webcomics, but there’s bound to be more out there.

In November, to mark Trans Day of Remembrance, the folks at UVic asked Charles to give a public lecture. I have finally found time to watch it, and it is good stuff. (And I don’t just say that because I get cited.) I was particularly pleased to see the Transvengers comic mentioned. Hopefully some of you will find it interesting too.

Thank You, Worlding SF!

As most of you will know, I spent the first third of December in Austria. Part of it was tourism, of which much more later, but the main purpose of my trip was to attend the Worlding SF conference at the University of Graz.

I had an absolutely amazing time. Vienna and Graz are both beautiful cities in their own, very different, ways. I’ll have more to say about them in later posts. This post, however, is all about saying thank you. That’s thank you to the organisers, to the University, to my fellow keynote speakers (Mark Bould & Gerry Canavan), to all of the great presenters whose papers I heard, and to everyone who said such kind things about my keynote.

If you’d like to get some idea of the sorts of things that were discussed, Julia Grillmayr has an excellent report on her podcast, Superscience Me.

And if you want to see what all the fuss was about with respect to my keynote, you can watch the whole thing here. Inevitably it begins with film of me tweeting.

Mark and Gerry gave great speeches too. There was apparently an issue with the sound on the film of Mark’s talk, which the film crew are trying to fix, but Gerry’s talk and some other great videos are available here (Farcebook login required by the looks of it).

The OutStories Bristol AGM


Saturday saw the AGM of OutStories Bristol and the associated John Addington Symonds Birthday Lecture. The event is sponsored for us by the Institute for Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition at Bristol University, which means we get the use of the lovely Wills Memorial Building for the event.

This year the lecture had special significance for us because it was actually about John Addington Symonds himself. Symonds was born in Berkeley Square, just the other side of Park Street from the Wills Memorial Building. He lived for a while in Clifton Hill House, which is now one of Bristol University’s conference venues. And of course some of his archives are held in Bristol.

It was archives that we were mainly concerned with on Saturday, in particular those pertaining to Symonds memoirs. They deal initially with Symonds’ coming to terms with his homosexual identity — something which there were no polite words for when he was young, so deeply had European culture supressed the idea. It was only later studying Classical Greece, and collaborating with the sexologist, Havelock Ellis, that he was able to write about how he felt.

That realisation, of course, brought with it the knowledge that his memoirs would be far too gay to publish. Or, to use the euphenmism of the day, “too Greek”. That’s the term his collegues at Oxford used when advising him not to apply for a senior post.

And so the memoirs were locked away, in a green cardbard box tied up with string. By the terms of Symonds’ will, they were bequeathed to his friend, Horatio Brown, with strict instructions not to allow anything embarrassing to be published, but neither to allow them to be destroyed. Through an Herculean effort of editing, Brown managed to produce a biography that was relatively complete, slightly suggestive, but free of any taint of scandal.

The rest of the story follows the heroic attempts of Symonds’ youngest daughter, Dame Katharine Furse, to gain access to the memoirs and have a more honest version published. It appears that Symonds’ proclivities were an open secret in the household, and younger generations were much less ashamed of same-sex liasions than their forebears.

All of this was related to us by Amber Regis, a scholar who has produced the most complete version yet of the memoirs. Amber was able to regale us with stories of adventures in the archives, and bring to life the voices of Symonds, Furse and other characters in the story.

I say “most complete yet” because there are still items under lock and key. Horatio Brown died without immediate offspring, and the rights to his literary estate passed to a pair of nephews in Australia. Those men, and their descendents, currently hold the rights to certain documents that Amber is not allowed to publish. So, Australian friends, if your last name is Brown, or you are descended from Browns, do check your family tree. There may be a lovely surprise in it for you.

By the way, the sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that Amber is based at the University of Sheffield. We did have a long chat after the meeting about the existence of aliens in they city. It has all been very exciting for the locals.

It was a very splendid day. My thanks to Amber, to the IGRCT, and to Chris Leigh who did all of the organising. I just chaired the meeting, and messed up thoroughly by forgetting to record Amber’s talk. Very sorry, everyone.

Today On Ujima: Students, Clothing, Theatre & Feminism

Today’s show began with two wonderful guests from the University of the West of England. Noor and Josie are part of a small group who are pioneering an organisation called Equity within the university that will help Black & Minority Ethnic students get the best out of their education, and find good jobs afterwards.

As we all know, the academic system, and the jobs market in the UK, discriminates against anyone who doesn’t fit the default stereotype of white and male. However, much can be done by finding role models, or as I prefer possibility models, that give people the confidence that they can beat the system and suceed in life. I’m delighted to find that UWE is the first university in the country to actively try to help BAME students in this way. If you happen to be a Person of Colour who works in or near Bristol, please take a look here to see forthcoming events where you can help inspire these students.

Now if only we could do something similar for trans students…

My second guest was Jo-Jo from the gender-neutral clothing company, Max Tariq. It is, apparently, Bristol’s first and currently only such label. Jo-Jo and I chatted about the philosophy of gender neutral clothing. We discussed how such clothes could be for anyone who foudn them attractive, and how “gender neutral” doesn’t mean dull and vaguely masculine. We also talked about making clothing climate-neutral.

The Listen Again system is still playing up occasionally. You can listen to Noor & Josie here. Jo-Jo’s interview got dropped, but I have the archive recording and will be putting him up on the podcast soon.

Next up was Yasmin from the Mandala Theatre Company. She’s putting on a play called Castaways at The Station (the old fire station building in which Ujima’s studios are located) tomorrow night. It is a pay what you can afford event, so money is no excuse. If you want a ticket, or just to learn mre about the play, go here.

I kept the final half hour guest-free because I wanted to have a bit of a rant about the whole Kavanaugh debacle over in the USA. I chose some powerful feminist music to go with it. Along the way I also managed to talk about the WASPI fiasco with women’s pensions, and the awful two-child limit on tax credits.

You can listen to the second half of the show in full here.

Not included, because I am slightly nervous about the lyrics, was the new Amanda Palmer song, “Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now”. The video, which is absolutely NSFW, is here.

The playlist for the show is as follows:

  • Big Mama Thornton – Let Your Tears Fall Baby
  • Bessie Smith – Alexander’s Ragtime Band
  • CN Lester – White wedding
  • Prince – Raspberry Beret
  • Minnie Ripperton – Young, Willing and Able
  • Erykah Badu – Drama
  • Janelle Monae – Americans
  • Lady Gaga – ‘Til it Happens to You
  • Alicia Keys – Superwoman
  • Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive

The first two tracks are, of course, a nod to Black History Month. The Gaga song is particularly powerful and I’m glad I found it.

I’ll be back on air in two weeks with my friend Olivette Otele to do Black History Month properly.

Special Issue of Mythlore: Mythopoeic Children’s Literature

An interesting call for papers has turned up on Academia.edu. Mythlore, the academic journal of the mythopoeic society, is having a special issue devoted to children’s fantasy. This is of rather more interest to the likes of Farah Mendlesohn and Cathy Butler than me, but I’m very happy to share it. They want draft papers (not abstracts) by March 30, 2019. Full details here.

An Evening with Tom Robinson

I am in Liverpool for the Outing the Past academic conference. The Friday evening programming of this event is always the Alan Horsfall Memorial Lecture. Horsfall, as Peter Tatchell explained in his introduction to the event, was a founder and mainstay of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality for many years, and someone who was never satisfied with whatever compromise for limited rights was brokered with politicians at the time.

This year’s lecture was given by Tom Robinson. If you are less ancient than me you might ask, “who”, but to anyone of my generation the guy is a hero. He’s the man who penned that great anthem, “Glad to be Gay”. And he made an additional step forward for equality much later when he found, to his surprise, that he was bisexual. It has taken a long time for the LGBT+ community to come to terms with this, and I am sure that there are pockets of people who are still furious. I’m delighted that the conference is finally honoring a bi celebrity.

Tom’s lecture was essentially a coming out story. Or rather two because he had to come out first as gay and then as bi. But it is a story which, for the second half, was lived in the full glare of tabloid publicity as one of the most famous gays in Britain. If you think “Glad to be Gay” is bitter about the media, you should hear Tom talk about them now. Though he did note that these days if the papers tell a bunch of porkies about you then you can at least tweet about what crap they are printing.

Obviously coming out is useful politically, but Tom also focused on the importance of intersectionality. Back in the days of Rock Against Racism, and of Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners, we were intersectional without having a word for it. The same rules apply now. We are stronger together. No one is free until we are all free.

Naturally the evening ended with a rendition of “Glad to be Gay”. My thanks to Tom for encouraging the crusty old academics in the audience to sing along so that I wasn’t the only one doing so.

I had a quick word with him afterwards and grabbed a selfie for Twitter. He told me that he’ll be playing the Fleece Bristol in October, and that the band will be playing songs from Power in the Darkness. The dates haven’t been officially announced yet but it won’t be the day of BristolCon because some guy called Ed Sheeran is booked in that night.

Here’s a taster of the sort of thing you might expect.

I do love the way Tom adapts lyrics as time goes on. The version of “Glad to be Gay” he sang tonight only had the first verse in common with the original single.

Anyway,that’s enough for tonight. I have a busy day tomorrow and could do with some sleep.

What? You want an encore? Oh, alright. Here is a much younger Tom. Y’all sing along now.

HFRN – Day 2

Yesterday began with a great keynote by Philip Morgan (no relation) on battlefields. He wanted to know how they got named (the Battle of Hastings took place at Battle, not at Hastings), whether a memorial was built on the site, and if so whether that was contemporary or long after the event. These are not simple questions, and hence they make for a great research project.

There were lots of good talks, including some that I missed due to being in the wrong stream. One of my favorites was by Greek historian, Ioulia Kolovou, on the subject of Anna Komnene. She was a Byzantine princess and a historian. If you would like to get a sense of the paper, Ioulia has a blog post about Anna up on the Dangerous Women Project blog.

My paper went well, which is a relief because I am giving that talk twice more this week. The first will be at the Diversity Trust event in Bristol tomorrow. The second, which will be an extended version, is at Bath Spa University on Wednesday.

Also in my session was new pal, Lucie Cook, who gave a magnificent paper on how the Victorians wrote about Anne Boleyn. My favorite bit was when a historian produced a new book critical of Anne and a clairvoyant claimed that she had been visited by the ghost of the angry queen who wanted the record put straight. For some reason the historian declined the opportunity to interview the ghostly Queen to find out what he had got wrong. Lucie noted that most historians of the era were men, that this book was deeply misogynist, and that the clairvoyant, as was typical for the era, was a woman.

The third paper in my session was by a long time friend, Tanya Brown, whom many of you will know from SF conventions. She did a paper on Christopher Marlowe in fiction, including coverage of Elizabeth Bear’s Promethean Age novels. This was every bit as entertaining as you would expect.

The wrap up session for the event was a panel discussion on how we remember history. This was inspired by things like the Rhodes Must Fall campaign and the removal of Confederate statues in the USA. I chaired it. Tony Keen, who when not at SF conventions is a Classicist, talked about how the Romans would sometimes erase mention of past emperors who had not been popular. Catherine Padmore from Australia talked about the Australia Day controversy. My friend Will Pooley from Bristol talked about the controversy surrounding Edward Colston, a local philanthropist who made much of his money from the slave trade. And finally Yasmen (whose last name I didn’t catch) from Turkey talked about a soap opera about the Ottoman Empire which gives a very positive view of the ancient Turks. Oh, and there was me. I talked about the World Fantasy Award trophy controversy.

Getting home proved a lot more difficult and expected. A bunch of us arrived at Stoke station just in time to see the line closed because of a “person hit by a train” incident. Understandably there was much chaos. It took almost two hours to get Lucie, Will and myself to Stafford where we could pick up the mainline trains from Manchester. Fortunately there is an alternative route south that avoids Stoke. I was greatly relieved to get to Bristol in time to catch the 10:15pm train home. I hope Lucie made it to Portsmouth.

HFRN Day 1

Hello from sunny Stoke-on-Trent where I have been spending the weekend at the Historical Fiction Research Network conference. I am, of course, an academic conference junkie, but I think there have been some great talks thus far.

The two keynotes from Saturday were Jerome de Groot talking about bioarchaeology, and Caroline Sturdy Collis on genocide archaeology. Jermome’s talk was all about how being able to do DNA analysis is changing the way we understand history, and how we tell those stories. People like Cheddar Man and Richard III are poster children for the new movement. Caroline does archaeology at the sites of Nazi death camps, and also collects oral histories from the few survivors. It is horrific work, but very necessary and also dangerous given the amount of harassment she gets from holocaust deniers.

I chaired a panel of papers by ancient historians, though one was actually presenting out of period with a look at the various versions of The Woman in Black. Tony Keen was his usual entertaining self on the subject of film and TV portrayals of Celtic Britons. However, the paper of most interest to me was Lynn Fotheringham talking about Kieron Gillan’s graphic novel, Three, which is a response to Frank Miller’s 300 on behalf of the Helots, Spartan slaves. The Spartans are a much misunderstood people and I’m hoping to do a paper on their for next year’s LGBT History Month (which of course means that they were very gay).

Today I get to give a paper and chair a panel discussion. Should be fun. I’d better stop writing and get on with it.

Graz in December, Anyone?

Here’s a cat that is now out of the bag, so to speak.

This December (6-8) the University of Graz in Austria is putting on a major international conference on science fiction. You can find the Call for Papers here. The reason I am telling you about it is that there are three invited keynote speakers, one of whom is me.

I have been keeping this one quiet since before the Holidays so I am delighted it is now public and I can stop exploding. I’m very pleased to be sharing the platform with Mark Bould whom I am sure will give a great talk. I don’t think I have ever met the third keynote, Gerry Canavan, but he’s an expert on the work of Octavia Butler so I’m sure we’ll have lots to talk about.

Everyone else (well, those of you into academic conferences), I’d love to see you there. Graz sounds lovely. It has a funicular railway and a museum of medieval armor; and it is very close to the Lipizzaner ranch.

Queering the Classics

Ha! As if Greece and Rome needed any queering from us. But we did it anyway.

I spent yesterday at Reading University at a conference on “LGBT+ Classics: Teaching, Research, Activism” organized by the Women’s Classical Committee. Given that I am not an academic and have no training in the Classics beyond a few years of schoolgirl Latin, I was deeply honored to be asked to give a paper. As they asked for Activism, I gave them Activism, and I am delighted to report that the talk appeared to go down very well.

It was only a small conference, but of such efforts big things can grow. I was particularly pleased to share the platform with Nicki Ward of Birmingham who is one of the authors of this superb guide to Queering the Curriculum. I have noticed that in the work I do training universities on trans issues, academic staff are conspicuous by their absence. Part of this is doubtless due to overwork, but we still hear the “I treat all people the same” excuse for avoiding diversity training. Classicists have absolutely no excuse for not including queer material in their courses, and if yesterday was anything to go by they are delighted to do so. It is a start.

Anyway, huge thanks to Katherine Harloe, Talitha Kearey and Irene Salvo for a great event. Hugs to Liz Gloyn who was unable to get there. Thanks to all of the speakers, especially the wonderful Jennifer Ingleheart. I learned a lot, and made some great new contacts. We should do this again.

February Schedule Firms Up

The various events at which I am doing LGBT History talks in February are starting to go public with their schedules. A while back I mentioned the Women in Classics event at the University of Reading. I can now add the Historical Fictions Network conference which is February 24/25 at Stoke-on-Trent. I will be giving a talk titled, “If Your Past isn’t Queer it is not Realistic”. The full program is available here, and booking details here.