A face for radio – the attack on Mary Beard

Last year there was criticism of a TV documentary by Prof. Mary Beard OBE (University of Cambridge), not because it was incorrect (she is an acknowledged expert in her field), not because she was boring (she has done a lot to make Classics accessible outside academia), but because she was not pretty enough.

In a recent lecture sponsored by The London Review of Books Beard argues that ‘women who claim a public voice “get treated as freakish androgynes”‘.

It's Rome, it's Professor Mary Beard!
It’s Rome, it’s Professor Mary Beard! (Photo credit: tristanf)
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GUTS Performance, ‘Confusions’

Groningen University Theatre Society (GUTS) presents Confusions, 13-15 Feb. 2014 in the USVA.
Alan Ayckbourn‘s hilarious short play Confusions consists of five (even shorter) interlinked one-act plays about frustrated, sad, and lonely people. Over twenty different characters are involved in comical, tragic, and absurd situations that explore romantic relationships, human anxieties, and loneliness, while remaining witty and most entertaining.
The style of the plays ranges from over-the-top farce to bordering-on-the-absurd, all filled with Ayckbourn’s cleverly constructed dialogue. The number of characters allows the cast to showcase their multitude of talents, guaranteeing a laugh out of every member of the audience.

Hendrik Engelbrecht
Samantha Haitsma
Bobby Makariev
Femke Nagelhout
Daan Wesselink
Directed by Noa Nikolsky

GUTS has been performing plays in English since 1968
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Famous authors attack Russian law on homosexuality

More than 200 prominent international authors, including Günter Grass, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood and Jonathan Franzen, have joined forces to denounce the “chokehold” they say Russia’s anti-gay and blasphemy laws place on the freedom of expression, amid a growing swell of protest on the eve of the opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

See article in The Guardian (in which the letter appeared).

The letter is signed by several authors who appear in our courses. Whether or not you agree with the authors’ point, it is interesting that it’s perceived that they carry special moral weight. A famous organization called PEN International is for writers who wish to get involved in the defence of freedom of expression and it gets a good deal of publicity from its campaigns.

Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka, one of the signatories (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the criticisms that has been levelled at the authors of this particular letter is that there are jurisdictions in which there are harsher laws against gay people (e.g. Nigeria, Saudi Arabia). Perhaps not all of the signatories are aware of worldwide legislation? Maybe some of them know little about Russian society? People who agree with the authors’ point of view and love their writing, might still find fault with combining the two. It is often said, for example, that sport and politics shouldn’t be mixed, and some feel the same about literature and politics. Against this general point it would be quickly pointed out by some of the best-known writers who signed the letter that they made their entire careers from political writing and that political issues are inextricable from their works.

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