Belfast Summer School
The second Belfast Summer School took place from Monday 3rd until Friday 7th July, 2017, and offered classes in Beginners and Intermediate Latin and Classical Greek. The expansion to Latin and the great increase in attendance this year speaks to both the success of last year’s Summer School, and to the desire for ancient language courses in Northern Ireland. We extend our sincerest gratitude to the Open University in Northern Ireland for its generosity in allowing us to use its facilities for classes.
The four classes, two Latin and two Greek, ran concurrently with 12 lessons timetabled over the course of the week. Invited speakers gave presentations on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
On Tuesday, Stephen Strickland (Maynooth University) gave a talk on Food and Character in Suetonius, regarding the emperors Augustus, Claudius, and Caligula. One of the ways in which Suetonius characterised his subjects was through descriptions of the foods that they ate. For instance, the reserved and moderate Augustus was described as having simpler tastes in food than the likes of Claudius, or indeed Caligula who was so extravagant as to eat loaves of bread made from gold, and to drink pearls dissolved in wine. Claudius was the main focus of the talk, an emperor somewhat in between the extremes of Augustus and Caligula, and the students’ discussion afterwards centred on his character and reign.
The second presentation to the summer school took place after Thursday’s classes. Giulio Di Basilio (UCD), provided an introduction to Plato’s Ethics, explaining the dialogue format and giving an overview of the development of Plato’s ethical thought. Giulio talked about humanity’s search for happiness and how, for many philosophers, this required a life of virtue. He then focussed on Plato’s Republic to speak about justice and truth, demonstrating how ancient philosophy remains relevant to the modern world. There was an excellent turnout for both invited speakers, and healthy discussions followed each talk.
On the social side, a large number of summer school students joined members of CANI for drinks and dinner. We had an enjoyable afternoon/evening in Granny Annie’s, Chichester Street. At the close of the School on Friday, Dr John Curran, Convenor of the Classical Association in Northern Ireland, presented certificates of attendance to all participants.
The students attended the Summer School for a wide variety of reasons and for different purposes. There were a number of PhD students, two of whom were studying medieval history and wished to have some knowledge of Latin to further their research. Others were undergraduates thinking about further study in Classics. Yet others simply wanted to revisit their love of languages from school, and some were veterans of the 2016 Summer School who had returned for more! During the course of the week, Open University staff were on hand to speak to students interested in humanities courses in general or classics modules in particular.
Informal feedback has shown that many students would return next year to continue their studies at more advanced levels of Classical Greek or Latin. When planning this year’s expanded Summer School, we had hoped we would have the same success with Latin as we did last year with Classical Greek. Attendance for both languages exceeded our expectations, and both the tutors and students found it a great success.
But what did the students themselves have to say? The feedback was overwhelmingly positive with remarks such as
“I wasn’t expecting to learn so much Latin in a short space of time.”
“I loved the course!!”
“My confidence in Latin has gone way up. I’ve loved this week.”
“The teacher created a friendly and informal atmosphere from the start. His explanations were lucid and the classes were well-prepared and well-organised.”
“This course is wonderful. What a great opportunity to have something like this running in Belfast.”
Thanks are due to the Open University in Northern Ireland for their hospitality, the Classical Association in Northern Ireland for its continuing support, Dr John Curran for always being there, the tutors for their hard work above and beyond the call of duty, and to the 2017 students for being so inspirational!
The summer school staff are already looking forward to the 2018 Summer School, scheduled to run from Monday 16th to Friday 20th July. Given the extraordinary success of the summer school to date, we have bigger and better plans for 2018. Watch this space!
Helen McVeigh and Stephen McCarthy
For more videos and photos of a great Classical day in Belfast, check out our Belfast Summer School 2017 Gallery and our Facebook album below.
After the roaring success of 2016, the Belfast Summer School in Classics returns in 2017 in partnership with the Open University in Northern Ireland. The school is open to all over the age of 18 and thanks to the level of interest we will be offering courses in beginners and intermediate Latin and Classical Greek.
Classes will be small, with a maximum of 10 students and will take place at the Open University in Northern Ireland premises at 110 Victoria Street, Belfast, BT1 3GN, from Monday 3rd – Friday 7th July 2017. There will be two hours of teaching each morning, at 10-11am and 12 noon-1pm, Monday to Friday, and afternoon classes from 2.30-3.30pm on Monday and Wednesday, allowing time for independent study between sessions. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, guest speakers will present on Latin and Greek authors.
The Summer School is non-residential. The fee for the course is £80 and the closing date for receipt of applications is Friday 2nd June 2017. For informal queries, further information and an application form, please contact the co-ordinator, Helen McVeigh on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Belfast Summer School in Classics
4th-8th July 2016
The first Belfast Summer School in Classics took place from Monday 4th until Friday 8th July 2016 and offered classes in Beginners and Intermediate Classical Greek to ten students. Three lessons were timetabled on Monday and Wednesday, with two lessons on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
Invited speakers were scheduled to give presentations on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. On Tuesday, Dr Kerry Phelan (Maynooth University) spoke about the politician and logographer Demosthenes. Judging by the nature of the questions afterwards, the high point of her talk was the manner of Demosthenes’ downfall, particularly how he sought refuge in a temple and committed suicide by ingesting a poison concealed within his pen. The dramatic circumstances of his death sparked queries about the type of poisons available to Demosthenes, the witnesses to this act, and the religious implications of his death as both a suicide and in a temple precinct.
Stephen McCarthy (Maynooth University) visited the summer school on Thursday to direct a discussion on Sappho’s poetry. He talked about her life and work, and revealed the fragmentary nature of her poems by depicting images of the papyri on which her poetry survives. The Summer School students were able to read the letters and recognised some of the words used by Sappho, and the ensuring discussion centred on the gaps left in the papyri, or the illegibility of some pieces, and conjecture about what might have been written. At the close of the School, the students were presented with certificates of attendance by Dr John Curran, Convenor of the Classical Association in Northern Ireland.
The students attended the Summer School for a wide variety of reasons and for different purposes: a post-GCSE student and two post-A level students wished to study classical languages but were unable to do so at their local schools and universities, two graduates in the area of Ancient History needed Greek to further their studies at PhD level (one even travelling all the way from Scotland to do this!), an archaeologist at the end of her PhD programme who required training in a classical language to broaden her skills in the field, and a retired solicitor who embraced his passion for the Classical World by using the skills learned in the Summer School as a starting point for commencing an undergraduate degree in Classics.
Informal feedback has shown that most, if not all students would return next year either to continue studies in Greek, or to undertake Latin at beginners or intermediate level. When planning the summer school, it was difficult not to wonder whether such a venture would be a success, whether the students would enjoy the courses and the programme we had put together, and whether there was even an interest in what we were offering. It seems that the answer to all those questions is a resounding ‘yes’! Therefore, we have decided to run the summer school again in 2017, and to offer classes in beginners and intermediate Latin to satisfy the thirst for Classical languages in Northern Ireland.
But don’t just take our word for it…
“I had a brilliant time studying Attic Greek this week at the Belfast Summer School in Classics!! It was well worth the 5:30am starts and 5 hour round trip to Belfast each day. I’d like to thank Helen McVeigh, Kerry Phelan, and the Classical Association in Northern Ireland for this amazing opportunity.”
“Had a great time today speaking about Sappho and her poetry at the Belfast Summer School in Classical Greek…”
For more photographs and videos from this excellent week-long event, head over to our Belfast Summer School in Classics 2016 Gallery