31st JACT Latin Summer School, Wells Cathedral School
‘You know you’re on the Latin summer school when you approach a group of people and say ‘salve!’ to break the ice and are then corrected with ‘Don’t you mean ‘salvete’? There’s more than one of us.”
It always comes as a relief and a slight surprise when I yet again find myself, in the last week of July, catching my first glimpse in a year of Wells Cathedral as I drive towards the school to begin another ten days of Latin teaching, socialising and learning in the beautiful surroundings of one of my favourite cities. The 31st summer school, whilst not quite as big as the previous year (145, down from 153), was certainly more international. We had eager Latin students travelling from as far afield as California and South America; and we once again welcomed two Czech students from Charles University, Prague. Several other international universities were well represented, including Université de la Sorbonne, Auckland University and Yale University. The age range of the summer school continues to have a healthy spread: 14-50 and it is worth mentioning that the number of under 18 students and over 18 students is still relatively well-balanced.
‘I met some fantastic people and learnt a lot in a great group. I loved the lessons and had so much fun,’
1. Staff and teaching
David and I were very happy to invite back so many familiar faces this year. Returning yet again to sacrifice ten days of their summer holidays were Luke Bastin, Julia Ebbrell, Joe Hytner, David Moyes, Elly Nicoll, Charlie Paterson, Sophie Ridley (nee Potter) and Sara Ward. Stephen Graham returned from his eastern adventure in Indonesia and Lindsey Cullen, one time director’s assistant, also came back to teach. Nina Bruce and Dick Mowbray (David’s ‘old’ Classics teacher) were welcome additions to the tutor team. Charlie Coulthard very kindly agreed to return as our assistant and, as ever, proved herself to be indispensible (I do not say this lightly: she was away for almost a day at one stage, dealing with a medical emergency, and we practically descended into chaos!).
‘Splendid! I really did not expect to make this much progress in such a short time! [The] tutors were the perfect balance of knowledgeable professionalism and approachability. Thank you all so much.’
This year we had 15 teaching groups including 3 beginners groups (with two separate groups for potential Oxford and Cambridge students); 3 post-GCSE groups and as many as 4 post-AS groups. The number of students who attended having learnt Latin off-timetable was especially noticeable and I am pleased that the summer school has been able to contribute to their progress. The grammar clinics were divided into ‘Basic’ and ‘Advanced’ and were organised in an order and format which would help as many students as possible.
‘The grammar clinics helped make complex grammar less intimidating.’
We were very lucky to welcome back so many familiar faces for the series of evening lectures. As has become tradition, Anthony Bowen gave the first talk and taught us how to pronounce Latin properly (and once again all the teachers amongst us walked away swearing that we would remember to pronounce double consonants separately). It was a pleasure to see Professor Matthew Leigh (St. Anne’s College, Oxford) again and his talk on Aeneid I and Early Roman Epic introduced us all to some lesser known Roman poets and provided a very useful grounding for those students who would return to Aeneid I in September as part of their A2 course. Dr. Llewelyn Morgan (Brasenose College, Oxford) successfully reminded us of the importance of metre in Latin poetry with his talk entitled The Short and Long of it – Sex, Death and Metrics. Dr. Joanna Paul (Liverpool University) talked about the reception of the Classical world in recent Hollywood history and Genevieve Lively (Bristol University) proved that the Romans did have a sense of humour. We were delighted to welcome back Stephen Bird, who once again provided us with a fantastic introduction to the remains of the Roman baths of Aquae Sulis. We continue to be very grateful to him for his continued support of the summer school and the help he gives us in our organisation of the trip to Bath.
This year we broadened our ‘co-curricular’ repertoire and held a classical drama session in the drama shed of Ritchie, which was very well received. We also organised trips to Wales on the weekend and Bath on the last Tuesday. Both of these were enjoyed immensely by those who attended them. It never ceases to amaze me how fresh and innovative the Bath museum always proves to be, year in year out: there is always something new to see.
‘The disco party was a blast! It all was! See you next year!’
‘Very geeky especially the last night play and party! Hard work but great fun.’
The Latin Summer School would not be the Latin Summer School without the miracle of entertainment which is the staff play on the last night. This year, some of the students suggested it would be a good idea to allow them to put on a play, as happens at the Greek summer school and the Classical Civilisation summer school. Whilst I understand and appreciate the educational benefits of this, I think you are more likely to find the 13th book of the Aeneid than succeed in tearing the script and the limelight from the hands of most of the tutors (not to mention convincing David to sacrifice his Miles Gloriosus costume). I feel a little ashamed that we performed The Swaggering Soldier for the third year in a row and I make it my solemn promise in this report that I will provide the summer school with a new play next year!
3. Acknowledgements and thanks
This year we awarded 20 bursaries and we continue to do all we can to make the summer school and the learning of Latin as accessible as possible. As none of this would be possible without them, I would like to thank those sponsors whose generosity helps makes this possible:
The Classical Association
The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies
The Jowett Copyright Trustees
The Craven Committee, University of Oxford
Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge
Friends of Classics
- 4. Next year’s course:
David and I have decided to extend the duration of the course by two days based on the philosophy that you simply cannot have too much of a good thing! Naturally, we have had to reflect this in the price of the course but unfortunately this could not be avoided.
The 32nd JACT Latin Summer School will run from Monday 23rd July 2012 to Saturday 4th August 2012.
If you wish to be provided with information on the 2012 summer school then please email Alexandra Boyt: firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-director of the JACT Latin Summer School