Behind the scenes interview – #CA14 Nottingham

Throughout this week we are bringing you information on Classical Association’s annual conference. The day before yesterday we posted an article on how to get to and get around the conference. Yesterday we re-posted some Twitter guidelines for the conference. Today, we bring you two interviews with people who are essential for the running of the conference – the organiser and a student-helper.

Ellen Richardson – a student-helper at the conference


  • Are you excited for the conference?


  • Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how long have you been in Nottingham.

I’m Ellen, a second-year at Nottingham, and I’m studying for my Classics BA.

  • Have you enjoyed studying Classics here?

Yes! The department is fantastic; I’ve really enjoyed being in such a friendly and encouraging environment. It’s lovely to be around people who are so involved with the classical world, and I can’t wait to start my third year.

  • Can you let us into any secrets or interesting facts about the Department here in Nottingham?

We’ve recently had a new Humanities building built — it’s very snazzy. Take a look round if you get the chance!
Oh, all the lecturers turn into vampires at night, too… but that’s not nearly as interesting!

  • If you don’t mind us asking, what’s your favourite module and who is your favourite lecturer?

I’m a bit of a language fanatic myself, so that would have to be the Ancient Greek module I took this year. Although, the Independent Second Year Project (ISYP), Classics & Popular Culture and The Christian Empire are the modules my friends rave about!

As for my favourite lecturer … I honestly couldn’t choose! They all have complementary teaching styles and strengths. Nottingham has a fantastically chosen department, which works very well together. However, I can tell you that I have particularly enjoyed the topics I have been taught by Dr Carl Buckland, Dr Katharina Lorenz, Dr Helen Lovatt and Dr Philip Davies, who have been some of my main lecturers so far here at Nottingham.

  • It’s very kind of you to volunteer to be a student-helper – all the delegates have been saying how helpful they were in the past. What’s your role during this conference?

Thank you — I feel honoured to be part of such an important event! My role is a little bit of everything, really; every volunteer is scheduled to do different tasks every day, so that we all get an equal share of opportunity and responsibility. It’s all been expertly planned and fairly shared out, so we’re all happy the conference will be running smoothly.

  • Are you easily identifiable? How many of you will there be?

Very much so! We are the ones in the bright green t-shirts, which have ‘student volunteer’ in capitals on the back, so please come and ask us if you need anything — there’ll be 30 of us stationed around campus everywhere you might need assistance. Please don’t hesitate to ask the lecturers anything, either — they are also happy to help!

  • Will it be hard to find our way around the conference?

Not at all. On arrival, guests will receive a conference pack, with details of the time, location and content of all the events. There will always be guides to take you where you need to go, right from the beginning of the conference, and in the very unlikely event someone does get lost, there is a map in your conference pack, and clear, easy-to-follow signs everywhere on campus.

  • How do you plan to enjoy the conference beyond the duties you have?

When we’re not on duty, we’ll be attending some of the events going on in the conference. This is a fantastic, unique opportunity to listen and learn from a range of learned and interesting speakers — something I know all of the volunteers are excited about.

  • Are there any places on campus you could recommend for us to relax or visit?

Absolutely — there’s the lake, which is a beautiful spot, perfect for a relaxing walk in the spring, there’s the Museum of Archaeology located in the Lakeside Arts Centre (near the South Entrance of UP) is open Monday-Saturday 11am-5pm and Sunday 12pm-4pm. There’s also the Hallward Library, which every guest has free access to while they’re visiting, and our burger bar, Mooch, if you fancy a drink or an (absolutely delicious) burger.

  • And Nottingham? Do you have a favourite restaurant or bar that you can recommend?

My favourite bar is Pitcher & Piano, a stunning converted church. It’s very unusual, and very stylish — you’ll remember a night spent there.
A great place for restaurants is the Cornerhouse, which has a range of choices all in one place, and is very easy to find.
However, my favourite thing to do in Nottingham is visit the lovely, local Savoy cinema. It’s old-fashioned cinema as it should be, with a great choice of recent films at good prices. It’s never full, and very quiet, so would be perfect for a relaxed night out.

  • And finally, are you ready?


  • Okay! Thank you in advance for all the help.


Helen Lovatt – Organiser of the conference

Image of Helen Lovatt

  • Firstly Helen, thank you very much for talking to us about the upcoming Classical Association conference here in Nottingham. Before we begin can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?

I’ve been at Nottingham for ten years and I teach all sorts of things. I’ve just published a book on The Epic Gaze (Cambridge, 2013) and my first book was on Statius. I’m now working on a history of the Argonautic myth – allegedly!

  • How big is the conference? How many people are attending the conference?

We think it is the biggest conference yet! We have had about 460 registrations, but people are still asking to come, and dropping out, so it is hard to keep track!

  • What can we look forward to in the conference?

Martha Kearney’s presidential address; the interactive and interdisciplinary plenary sessions – two papers on related aspects of a topic from different perspectives (art, literature; history, material culture) followed by discussion; lots of great panels, particularly on Greek and Roman history, reception, and Greek drama.

  • I am going to push you a little: is there anything that cannot be missed?

The Fragments of Roman Historians panel: top line-up, important topic, quite a few eminent people coming just for this!

  • It’s been 18 years since the last CA conference here. Have you missed the conference? Does anyone in the department remember anything about the last conference?

Yes, Steve Hodkinson was there and gave me a copy of his programme. It was a tiny event in comparison then. Even so they employed a full-time administrator who had an office in the broom cupboard. Quite a few of our emeritus professors are coming too: John Rich, Jim Roy, and John Molyneux – who organised the last one! Have we missed it: well it’s not a task to be undertaken lightly. Definitely a once -in-a-lifetime opportunity, I’d say.

  • Will it be hard to find our way around the conference?

University Park at Nottingham is a BIG campus: it takes about half an hour to walk across campus. But we’ve tried to put everything as close together as possible. On the down side, there are building works next to the Pope building where the panels are being held, but they are well sign-posted. The tram works in Beeston are making the traffic crazy, so definitely better coming by train. On the up side, the Nottingham railway station refurbishment is nearly finished and it looks very pretty now. Also, I’ve just walked through the conference with our enthusiastic and generally wonderful team of student helpers, so there will be plenty of help, and I’ll enjoy myself laminating the signage on Friday.

  • How can we keep track with what’s going on during the conference?

Twitter will be the best way: follow @CAconf2014 or search for #CA14 – also we are considering a live twitter feed in the refreshments room, and probably a solidly old fashioned noticeboard at the conference desk.

  • If we find ourselves with some free-time, what can we do on the University Park campus?

There is the University Museum  and also lots of other things going on at Lakeside; you can enjoy walking round the lake and watching the wildfowl; there is a Blackwells and a Boots in the Portland building; and conference delegates can get into the Hallward library by showing their conference badges.

  • And in the city? Do you have a favourite restaurant or bar that you can recommend?

The Nottingham Castle Museum has some great classical holdings; if you’re not going on the official tour to Wollaton Hall, you can walk over quite easily and enjoy the deer park. For the more ambitious, Newstead Abbey was the excursion we didn’t have space for. The shopping is great, of course, as is the eating. My favourite restaurants in Beeston are Cafe Roya (vegetarian, you’ll need to book), Nirvana (curry, BYO) and the Victoria (great pub); in town, I love Kayal and Alan Sommerstein’s favourite is French Living.

  • Are the students and the department looking forward to the conference?

Definitely: every member of staff in the department is involved in some way, from organising a panel, to chairing a session. The student helpers were so excited that they flew through the conference pack making!

  • And finally, are you ready?

As ready as we’ll ever be! Actually feeling like we are nearly there now.

  • Okay! Thank you very much for your time and we really look forward to being here again next week when the conference begins in earnest. Best wishes to you and send our best wishes to all those involved in the conference.

Article updated 8:38, 12th April – links added.

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2 Responses to Behind the scenes interview – #CA14 Nottingham

  1. Pingback: Ready for Nottingham – #CA14 Nottingham | Classics Collective

  2. Pingback: Live from Classics Association conference #CA14 | Classics Collective

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