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Webchat with Mary Beard, Tuesday 9 October 12.30-1.30pm

(136 Posts)
PatrickMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 04-Oct-12 11:34:39

Hi everyone,

We are delighted to welcome the inimitable Mary Beard to Mumsnet for a live webchat on Tuesday 9 October between 12.30-1.30pm.

Mary Beard (who needs no introduction to many of you, we're sure!) is a Professor of Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, and the classics editor of the TLS. Her books include the acclaimed and best-selling Pompeii, The Roman Triumph, The Parthenon (in the Wonders of the World series of which she is general editor) and It’s A Don’s Life. She is the winner of the Wolfson Prize for History for Pompeii (Profile, 2008), writes a highly successful blog for The Times and recently presented a wonderful BBC TV series on the Romans.

Alongside fellow Classicist Emily Pillinger, Mary will be contributing to a lively 2-day Roman History course as part of the Mumsnet Academy, on 13-14 October at Faber and Faber, London. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet Mary while brushing up on the history of a society that, in many ways, shapes the way we live today. No previous knowledge of Roman History required. Sign up here.

Put 9 October in your diary or if you can't join us live, post a question to Mary in advance.

WingDefence Thu 04-Oct-12 14:51:47

Hello Mary!

You interviewed me at Newnham way back in 1994 and I was in awe of you then. I didn't make it to Cambridge in the end but I'm so glad you are still going strong in the field of Classics.

My question is:
Do you think that Classics is still a relevant degree for students to study at a time when more vocational subjects seem to be prefered because students are having to pay a lot for their courses and wish to be at their most employable once graduated?

I certainly hope so - when I studied Classics I remember seeing a statistic that showed that, apart from medicine and law, Classics graduates had the highest proportion of employability within a certain time. Not sure whether that has changed though...?

GsyPotatoPieEyed Thu 04-Oct-12 21:00:15

Hello Mary,

I loved your series The Romans, particularly the way you bought the stories to life using the tombstone inscriptions. My question is simply:

Do you have anymore TV programmes coming up?

Thank you.

QuaintIrene Fri 05-Oct-12 09:59:54

Hello –

I loved Latin at my (state) school and the knowledge that that period of study gave me has been useful on a daily basis. Do you have any vides on how Latin can be brought back into schools so that everyone gets a go? I've been thinking of offering a Latin club to older kids at my child's primary school – could you advise on decent and simple texts, please? (Oh, and keep up the good work!)

TheCunningStunt Fri 05-Oct-12 10:47:29

Hi Mary....
Firstly was that really you that came on a MN thread whilst your roman tv series was on???
And my actual question, when did your love for history start? What kicked it all off for you and made you realise it was a passion?

I know it's technically two questions.....well three..but two are intertwined and the first is just nosey slightly relevant.

KJH73 Fri 05-Oct-12 11:02:36

Hi Mary, as a highly successful female academic, what advice would you have for an early career academic (PhD 2008, lecturer for 4 years) on managing a research career alongside having children? I'm 6 months pregnant and already having to turn down so many funding opportunities, conferences etc. My universtity's maternity leave arrangements are excellent, but it's the longer term that worries me. Many thanks. (Incidentally I'm also a Classics graduate, although I now lecture in linguistics!)

TunipTheVegemal Fri 05-Oct-12 11:05:23

Welcome to Mumsnet again, Mary. Thank you for coming.

Quid est vestrum crustulum acceptissimum?

(not sure if I've got that right but I know you would want us to have a go!)

Nasturtiumsalad Fri 05-Oct-12 12:14:40

Salve Mary,

I'm a former student of yours and loved my time at Newnham- it shaped who I am and how I think. Thanks for all you did. smile However, ten(ish) years on, busy juggling work and a young family, I can't remember much of the actual Latin, Greek, history and philosophy I learnt then, let alone find time to argue out the questions that enthused us all then. blush

Any tips for me and others in a similar position on how to revive the interest (of the sort that can be fitted into commuting time and other small corners of the day)? Or should we just give up and wait until the kids are older? confused

Gratias tibi ago.

funnypeculiar Fri 05-Oct-12 12:35:20

Firstly, thank you for the series on BBC - we loved it, learnt loads, & you are such an engaging presenter.

Any plans to do anything on the beeb for kids? We really wanted to show it to dcs, but it was just a bit tooooo sweary & rude grin.

Issy Fri 05-Oct-12 12:44:19

Salve Mary

I'd like to second Nasturtium Salad's question. I'm another Classics graduate (graduated from Oxford in '87!) who has fallen firmly off the wagon. I think I'd struggle now with the Cambridge Latin Course: Caecilius est where?!

Perhaps a week-long or weekend summer school for Lapsed Classicists. There's probably enough of us now in lucrative employment (yes you can get a good job after a Classics degree) that the course could make a profit.

:thinks wistfully about a child-free/work-free week reading Virgil:

TunipTheVegemal Fri 05-Oct-12 12:49:42

Issy I love the idea of a Lapsed Classicists course. I'd come! Maybe it could be held at Bryanston for maximum nostalgia.

Issy Fri 05-Oct-12 13:13:09

Turnip: Yes, Bryanston would be perfect.

I'm sure we could find some faculty amongst current and retired classics teachers and lecturers plus super-stars like Mary.

After our summer school, perhaps some of us would be inspired to run after-school Latin clubs in schools where classics hasn't made it on to the curriculum.

MardyBra Fri 05-Oct-12 14:03:10

Hello Mary. Really enjoyed the Romans series and teenage Dd loved a recent repeat of your Pompeii programme. (As an aside, she is doing Latin at school and I can't believe Caecilius and Metella are still going strong).

My question is: What would you like to do to AA Gill if you could get your hands on him?

MardyBra Fri 05-Oct-12 14:06:48

Actually, maybe you would prefer not to sully your hands.

dottyaboutstripes Fri 05-Oct-12 14:12:13

I agree that a series for kids would be FAB! Your enthusiasm just shines out of the screen! And am chuckling at the mention of Caecilius and Metella (though don't forget Quintus, Cerberus et al smile)

I'd like to know if you've noticed more A Level students applying for Classics since your tv appearances?

MardyBra Fri 05-Oct-12 14:19:13

dotty They were even in a Dr Who episode about Pompeii! grin

SheelaNeGig Fri 05-Oct-12 16:46:53

Hi Mary.

My question - Is there room for history and/or classics in school curriculums now? Both my DDs have followed me and given up history aged 13. I have regretted it ever since and know nothing.

Also - was it really you who ce an posted on MN? (i started a thread under a previous name after your Pompeii series)

And gin, wine or beer?


EauRouge Fri 05-Oct-12 17:13:22

Mary Beard! How exciting!

Hi Mary, I loved Meet the Romans.

I have 2 daughters, the eldest is just about to turn four. What's your favourite UK historical site that's fun for children to visit?

I would also love a children's TV show and/or a book.

KarenHowdle Fri 05-Oct-12 17:17:45

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

LittleAbruzzenBear Fri 05-Oct-12 17:31:36

Hi Mary, we also enjoyed your Roman series and to echo EauRouge, a children's history book would be fab.

I wish my GCSE History teacher had had just an ounce of your enthusiasm and wit - she almost killed my love of history and previously being predicted for grade A/B I ended up with a D - it was that bad. Thankfully I have renewed my interest again! Any ideas on the best way to introduce history to my 4 year old son?

SheelaNeGig Fri 05-Oct-12 17:31:50


MardyBra Fri 05-Oct-12 17:33:21

I think Karen is spamming Sheela. Have reported.

SirBoobAlot Fri 05-Oct-12 18:38:34

Hi Mary - will think of a vaguely intelligent question when I can, but wanted to mark my place more than anything else. You're such an inspiration!

I studied A level Classics and then Archaeology, and loved them both. I fell ill with a chronic health condition before I could complete either, or do anything with them, but still read my text books time and again.

Your series on the Romans was utterly superb, do so hope there will be another!

ClaireFromWork Fri 05-Oct-12 19:59:14

Hi Mary - I'm coming to your course in a few weeks. Studied Latin at Uni and can't wait!!

My question for you is which Roman historical figure is your favourite and why?

MaryMotherOfCheeses Fri 05-Oct-12 22:15:09

Hi Mary!

Loved your recent series on Roman people. I went to Rome two weeks after watching it (was soooo excited in the Forum when I found the board game in the stone, because I could just "see" the two Romans sat on either side.) Husband and son were of the "it's just a pile of old stones" mentality because they hadn't watched the programmes in advance, much as I had recommended them.

What interpretation do you think sites like that should have? Have they got it right or is it just too difficult to engage sweaty tourists who are thinking about where their next pizza slice is coming from? (I did eat a lot of pizza....blush )

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