Happy anniversary

As we go to press, the CUCD is coming up to its 100th meeting, which seems a good moment to take stock of the past and cast an eye towards the future. In this bumper issue, accordingly, Geoffrey Eatough and Eric Handley review our origins and consider how far the subject has come in thirty-two years. Graham Shipley assesses the CUCD-commissioned UCAS survey of university applications in classical subjects (which can also be found on our website). Lorna Hardwick reports on the LTSN, and Jan Parker offers a critique of current teaching practices and ideas for the future. (This is also perhaps a good moment to restate the obvious, that all views expressed are the authors' own, not products of any CUCD or editorial 'line'.)

When we conceived the idea of an article on the history of the CUCD, I hoped for something from one of the original committee. Armed with a list, I started alphabetically to ring round those who are still with us. The first had no recollection what CUCD was; when prompted, he said he couldn't remember anything about it, and was relieved to have left all that sort of thing behind when he retired. The second said he remembered it, but had not kept his papers, and was currently rather embroiled in the last stages of a book. I salute them both: scholars who went on teaching long past their official retirements, who continue to give younger generations hours of help and encouragement, and who are still, in their late seventies and eighties, busy with research and publishing. I can't help sympathizing with their priorities. The third person I rang was Eric Handley, who said he remembered the early committee well, and went straight to the library to look up all the back issues of the Bulletin. And to Eric I take off my cap and fling it in the air: a scholar who in retirement is not only still researching, publishing and teaching, including teaching elementary Greek to future undergraduates, but who still takes an active interest in the politics and public life of the discipline. He is an inspiration to the rest of us.

My secondary schooling began in the year that Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister, so my teenage years were overshadowed by her governments' attacks on universities. I was pessimistic about the future of Classics: I remember thinking, at 14 or 15, that if I was interested in taking the subject further I had been born too late. The efforts of people like Peter Jones to keep an interest in Classics alive in the media seemed heroic but futile, and probably naive. When I stop now to take the measure of how wrong I was, I am amazed. We are not laughing, but we are still here, and in places growing and diversifying; we are fighting the decline of language teaching in schools through summer schools and language teaching programmes within university courses; our graduates still achieve something close to 100% employment and the media are positively bristling with websites and articles and programmes about the Greek and Roman past. Every one who contributed - who went on teaching, researching and spending their free time at CUCD and other committee meetings, who wrote articles and letters to the papers and proposed programmes, who argued against every closure of every school and university department, however pointless it seemed - your posterity is already among you, in the shape of younger colleagues and students and young people in secondary and primary schools, and we are full of admiration and profoundly grateful. Happy anniversary.

CUCD Bulletin 30 (2001)
© Council of University Classical Departments 2001

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