So some of you may have noticed that my little blog has been rather quiet once again… I assure you, I haven’t forgotten about its existence! Life has been rather busy. Exciting, fun, and challenging, but nonetheless BUSY. People often ask, ‘What do you DO apart from your PhD?’. Although I do spend the majority of my time doing research at my desk with my head down, earphones in, and a large pot of coffee within easy reach, I’ve found that there’s actually a whole lot more to life as a PGR student than just your thesis. This gave me the idea to do a little series of posts about just that -- life beyond the PhD.
The first post in this series comes at a very exciting time. I’ve been working away organising a conference for the very first time, with the help of my supervisors, friends, and the events team from the School of Histories, Languages, and Cultures at Liverpool University. Over the Christmas break, I saw a notice on the Liverpool Classics List from a PGR at the University of Oxford, asking whether anyone would be interested in hosting 2017’s Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient Literature (AMPAL). The Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient Literature (AMPAL) is one of the largest postgrad conferences in the UK, and attracts speakers and attendees from all over the world. AMPAL offers a valuable forum for students to present, gain peer feedback on their work, and meet like-minded individuals to grow and develop their research networks. Perhaps this shows that I’m too invested in my subject, but I was actually more excited about the prospect of writing an application to host than I was about all the festive food still surrounding me! I was over the moon to receive an email just a few weeks later, telling me I had been successful in my application. For my conference theme, I chose the broad theme of ‘Transformation’, hoping to engage and inspire students of all areas of ancient literature, especially literature relating to languages other than Latin and Greek.
Then the hard work really began. Coming up with a conference theme, a preliminary budget, suggested topics for abstracts, etc., had been fairly easy. At that stage it had just been me, sitting at my table at home, with a mountain of colourful post-it notes. It may sound bizarre, but I really, really, enjoy organising. I love creating Gantt charts, spreadsheets, budgets, you name it. While I was President of the Exeter University Classics Society, organising academic events, often together with my two good friends who were the subject chairs of our departmental SSLC at the time, was one of my favourite parts of the job. However, organising such a large and well-known event, in an institution I had been a part of for less than six months, was a very daunting task. I found myself wondering if I had made a mistake, or if, this time, I had finally bitten off more than I could chew. I shouldn’t have worried! I was overwhelmed with offers of help and support from my supervisors, my faculty events team, and from my wonderful friends. I’m truly blessed to share an office with such kind individuals with such varied and diverse talents, who were so willing to lend a hand to help make AMPAL 2017 a success.
I sent the AMPAL 2017 call for papers out onto the open seas of the internet this morning. I was so touched by the messages of support and encouragement I received from friends and tutors within minutes of sending out the call. These gave me a real confidence boost, and certainly brightened my rather grey Monday! Pressing ‘send’ marked the end of one stage of organisation and excitement, and the beginning of the next. I can’t wait to look through the abstracts and see how the theme of ‘Transformation’ has been interpreted. This is a fairly short post, but it’s now coming up to 10.30pm, and I’m getting rather sleepy…
I’m hoping to do a few more posts on this conference-organising journey as things unfold, so watch this space. If you fancy finding out more about AMPAL 2017, check out the links below: