It must be six months or more since I first heard that Oxford church historian Diarmaid MacCulloch was coming to Sheffield as a Prokhorov lecturer. I immediately emailed the colleague responsible to reserve a place at the masterclass. Though I doubt he recalls it, MacCulloch was approached as a possible examiner for my PhD thesis and I remain a little bit fanatical about his work on Reformations—so marvellously complex. It is therefore with real sadness that I find myself on the outside of that event.
Masterclass day is day 2 of UCU strikes. Pensions are the official issue, but there’s a wider anger afoot. Zero-hour teaching contracts, a culture of publish or perish, constant criticism from public figures who think they have an idea how we spend our summers.
All this comes as a project I’ve been curating for (coincidentally) at least 6 months felt like it was taking off. And with permission from an organising colleague, we had advertised MacCulloch’s evening lecture under that 500 Reformations umbrella. 500 Reformations had itself revealed to me an unexpected direction of collegiate interest in Luther. I found myself added into a collaborative bid to consider the great reformer’s philosophical legacy. The first event for that collaboration is also taking place on day 2 of the strikes.
As it happens I know through private networks that I’m far from the only person who queried the intention to go ahead with the scheduled events as planned. However, for some colleagues it is apparently less obvious that this kind of collaborative enterprise–whether masterclass or explorative meeting–is part of the labour our union has asked us to withdraw, part of the work the University finds valuable, part of what I’m–we’re–paid to get involved in. (Yes, I know there’s luxury in that.) I wish I were able to reconcile my priorities with such personal convenience, or that we were able to find a workable compromise—to postpone or cancel the planned events and perhaps do something informal, off-campus in their place.
Sadly, that kind of resolution looks increasingly unlikely. So I’ve ploughed my energies into a creative protest, one that harnesses a little of Luther’s language and hopefully achieves a level of provocative kindness.
After a gap in posts, this is a somewhat epic effort, following up on a “Language and Society” seminar with University of Sheffield History students this morning. Alongside an overarching interest in “reproducibility”, it contains:
When I drafted my abstract for SHARP, I recall a keen sense that my doctoral work was very closely tied to the conference theme, and that—being then in an early stage of the Linguistic DNA project—it was harder to anticipate what LDNA outputs might best speak to the 2016 theme “Languages of the Book”. As others will recognise, a 20-minute conference paper often skims over details of process in favour of content. In this post then I want to reflect on how I brought together LDNA with my own prior research. Continue reading Under the surface: SHARP, LDNA and sundry sources
As you may or may not know, I’m an old fashioned, traditional kind of guy who rejects not only 1990s culture, but also that of most of the twentieth century with discernible vehemence–my use of letters and telegrams rather than telephones, quill pens and ink instead of biros or word processors, and my incessant ramblings pertaining to how things were when everything was fields and you could hang your key outside your front door without a single worry–those were the days!
For weeks I’ve been feeling an inarticulate kind of anger. No one cared to canvas in the former heartlands.
The current post is prompted specifically by the “anecdotal evidence” in Charles Pattie’s contribution to The Conversation. In the footnotes to what follows, you will find some additional information Sheffield’s demographic extremes. The main post provides direct anecdotal evidence from someone who works for the University of Sheffield (like Pattie), but lives on the city’s north eastern fringes.
The early days of my doctoral research were quickly disrupted: I arrived in the Department of Biblical Studies just as the University announced its intent to close it. That step was forestalled, and I had a small role in shaping what became the new Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS).Continue reading Towards a doctorate
In the run up to the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible translation, I facilitated a conference at the University of Sheffield exploring how shifts in biblical literacy affect teaching in a range of academic subjects. The three-day conference brought together professional educationalists from school and university contexts, to improve our understanding of issues posed by biblical illiteracy and share different ways in which the Bible could be encountered productively in the classroom.