32nd JACT Latin Summer School, Wells Cathedral School

2012 Report

‘I love the JACT Latin Summer School, but there needs to be more staff dancing!’

The 32nd Latin summer school once again took place at Wells Cathedral School, Somerset.  This year we made the decision to extend the course by 2 days to allow for both verse and prose texts to be covered comfortably.  Whether as a result of the Olympics or a general trend in ‘belt-tightening’ we were smaller than we usually are at 108 students.  However, our tradition of having a considerable spread of ages continued: our youngest student was 15 and our most senior was 60!   Students once again came from a variety of backgrounds.  It was a pleasure to welcome another representative from California State University this year as well as students from Prague, Rosenheim and Luxembourg.

‘My inner nerd has been FREED!’

1.  Staff and teaching

The tutor team this year consisted entirely of teachers who have already taught on the summer school – we must be doing something right if people are willing not only to return but also to give up a further 2 days of their summer holiday.  The team included: Charlie Patterson, David Moyes, Dick Mowbray, Luke Bastin, Stephen Graham, Lindsey Cullen, Sarah McNee, Sophia Ridley and Will Ford who returned to us having moved back to England from Australia.  We had a new assistant, Camilla Reece-Trapp from St. Anne’s College Oxford, who looked after us very well despite various  complications including torrential rain and the closure of Ritchie Hall which meant that lectures (and more importantly, the last night play and party) had to be held in the Sports Hall.

‘I thought it was excellent, really well organised, the teaching was first class!’

This year we had 11 teaching groups including 3 beginners groups (with one group for Oxbridge students); there was one ‘Pre-GCSE’ group; 2 post-GCSE groups and an interesting class known as the ‘Rusties’ which was made up of students who had taken GCSE Latin some time ago and wanted to pick the language up again.  There were 3 post-AS groups and one post-A2 who read a variety of challenging texts including Book 7 of Lucan’s de Bello Civili .  Once again 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. Approximately a third of students came from the state sector and 16 different universities were represented.  The grammar clinics were once again divided into ‘Basic’ and ‘Advanced’ and were organised in an order and format which would help as many students as possible.

We were very lucky to welcome back so many familiar faces for the series of evening lectures.  In keeping with tradition, Anthony Bowen gave the first talk and taught us how to pronounce Latin properly.  As always it was great to see Professor Matthew Leigh (St. Anne’s College, Oxford) again and his talk on Ovid and Propertius on the Life of Love helped to broaden students’ knowledge of Latin love and certainly whetted the appetite of those who would be learning (or indeed teaching) about Propertius as part of the A2 verse course. Dr. Llewelyn Morgan (Brasenose College, Oxford) discussed The Gods in Roman Epic.  Dr Amy Coker (Liverpool University) joined us for the first time and her lecture on Ancient Impoliteness: How to make enemies and alienate people in ancient Rome and Greece was funny, informative and very revealing! On Sunday evening, Dr John Smith provided us with a fascinating insight into the life of a Roman Legionary in south west England.  Stephen Bird once again prepared us for our trip to Bath with a talk on Aquae Sulis and as always his support was vital to the success of the trip itself.  Dr. Joanna Paul (Open University) talked about Classics in the movies, with particular focus on the films Gladiator and Troy and Genevieve Lively (Bristol University) braved a monsoon to talk to us about Interpreting Pompeian Pornography.

Once again we held a classical drama workshop, which was very well received.  We also organised trips to Caerleon and Caerwent on the weekend.  Next year we are hoping to extend our visit to Bath to give people the opportunity to explore the city more thoroughly before visiting the baths and the temple in the evening as usual.  The Hellenic Bookservice joined us for a few days and all the students took the opportunity to stock up on such a wonderful selection of Classical texts, commentaries, posters, DVDs and of course, a perennial favourite, Cambridge Latin Course pencils!

The Latin Summer School would not be the Latin Summer School without the Third Declension Song and this year I think we surpassed ourselves in terms of musicality and choreography thanks to David’s genius idea of using a karaoke backing track instead of just doing it ‘a capella’ (which was always more like ‘a disaster’).  Hopefully this new and improved Latin Camp theme tune will make up for the fact that I broke my promise to put on a different play this year.  You would have done the same if you had seen the look on David’s face when I told him he might not be able to wear his centurion costume for the 4th year in a row.


3.  Acknowledgements and thanks

This year we awarded a total of £2000 in bursaries.  This is somewhat lower than in previous years but, perhaps a little surprisingly in the current economic climate, this year we simply did not get as many applications.  Everyone who applied for a bursary received one! We continue to do all we can to make the summer school and the learning of Latin as accessible as possible.  The sponsorship we are so generously given by those listed below not only allows us to provide places to those who would not be able to come otherwise but it also helps us keep fees down overall.  David and 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.  NEW WEBSITE and next year’s course: 

One of our most exciting developments this year has undoubtedly been the new website, www.latincamp.co.uk which will be live by the end of October – it should tell you everything you need to know about the summer school in general as well as specific information for 2013.  There is also a new online application process.  (If you need further information after looking on the website or have specific questions to ask, then please do email me on  aboyt@norwich-school.org.uk)


The 32nd JACT Latin Summer School will run from Monday 22nd July 2013 to Saturday 3rd August 2013.


Alexandra Boyt

Co-director of the JACT Latin Summer School