This is all terribly behind-hand now, but still important, so let’s get it finally out of the way. The main item was already known to many of those of you I know in person, but when you found out, I was still waiting for vital pieces of paper without which I couldn’t tell people who officially needed to know, so I didn’t want to put it online yet, and then those papers arrived but I had conference reports to do… whine, whine whine. So okay, here we are now and everyone else is saying, “Jarrett, Jarrett, get a hold of yourself, speak English man, what’s the news?” Friends, it is as follows.
That piece of paper, well, it is a contract from the University of Oxford that makes me a Lecturer in Medieval History in the Department of History and a Career Development Fellow of Queen’s College there for the next three years, starting October 1st. This has arisen because Professor John Blair, of whom of course we have spoken here before, has obtained three years’ research funding and leave and they need someone to take over his teaching. And, well, it’s me.
You can all imagine how I feel about this—exhilarated and overwhelmed at the same time, as this suddenly calls time on a great number of projects that must now be finished post haste, and of course means I have to find a place to live in a city I hardly have time to visit before I need to be a resident there—but though I am really excited about it, I have also got to say how lucky I am to have had a more-or-less steady job at the Fitzwilliam Museum for the last five years, when not everyone has been so lucky; I’ve really enjoyed it, I’ve been involved in some really cool stuff and they’ve been very good to me. I should also recognise a similar ready hospitality from Clare College, whose offer to renew my position as College Research Associate there for next year I have had regretfully to decline, because that’s also been fun. So I shall go with both joy and sorrow from One Place to the Other Place, and you will continue to hear from me here as I’ve had a pleasing amount of enthusiasm about the blog from some future colleagues so I guess it’s OK.
And That’s About It for the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council
On the other hand, it’s probably just as well I go now. My post at the Fitzwilliam is funded by an organisation called Renaissance East of England, and that is part of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, the body that coordinates funding and support of most of the auxiliary institutions of the humanities in the UK and generally does most of the serious judgement and encouragement of preservation of heritage here for the government. And the government have decided to chop it, to save money. The lesser strata will remain, but the coordinating body is going to go. My post currently has six months on the clock (and will shortly be advertised, indeed) but whether there will be any more is very hard to say. I’m told we have a good case for renewal, but we’ve also been told that half the posts thus funded are likely to be cut. No-one knows for sure, of course, because they’re still making this stuff up in Whitehall. Forgive me if I suspect that, though there will be more money in the system for the removal of a tier of bureaucracy, somehow less will actually get spent on people doing work. So, sadly, this is a good time to get out. When your employment prospects are such that you are more secure in humanities academia, well, that’s not a good sign now is it?
The Clerical Cosmos
The keen-eyed may have seen, meanwhile, that I am going to practise being an academic in Oxford ahead of time by presenting one of my bishops at a one-day conference organised by the Faculty of History and the Oxford Centre for Medieval History called “The Clerical Cosmos: ecclesiastical power, culture, and society, c. 900 to c. 1075”, and you will see some fairly usual suspects on the bill there. I have almost the entire Catalunya Carolíngia out on loan from the Cambridge UL while I can still get away with that—I suspect that my own copies of these volumes are going to be early presents to myself in Oxford—and will endeavour not to let the side down despite everything else that’s on, but I imagine it will be worth a look for things as well as my paper if you’re interested and able to be in the vicinity.
Bearded in My Den
Lastly, those who do go there may be surprised by my appearance. Over the course of this blog’s existence this has varied a fair amount, but it’s been pretty steady for the last couple of years, to the extent that at work I could be called on for photos with titles like “Beards of the Coin Room”:
You may guess by the past tense that matters have changed. I had been fed up with the beard for a while, I fiddled with it, nobody I wanted to like the way I looked liked it, it has gone. I did toy briefly with the idea of retaining just the moustache…
… but quite frankly, ‘lecturer’ is not the profession I think of when I see a moustache like that, and I don’t think I have time to retrain. And, dammit, I still didn’t look like Terry-Thomas and the Naked Philologist’s moustache was still better than mine and she didn’t even have to grow it. So in the end I have reverted to what I am more comfortable with and you will now find me arranged thusly:
So there you are: you are now fully forewarned and something like up to date. See you next week!