March 14, 2017, by Will Leveritt

An Oslo conference experience

Text by Melanie Fitton-Hayward


PhD student Melanie Fitton-Hayward writes about her recent experiences at a conference in Oslo. 

It’s not often that you get the opportunity to combine a fantastic holiday with a conference that’s completely perfect for you. So, when I first saw the Call for Papers for a conference on classical translation in Oslo (via the Classicists list), I knew that I had to apply.

The outside of the conference building.

The conference, entitled ‘Translation in Antiquity, Translating Antiquity: Methods and Practices’, was a two-day affair, in an absolutely stunning building in the centre of campus. After a long trudge through the pitch-black and early-morning snow, I felt immediately welcomed by a very warm atmosphere. It was attended by an eclectic mix of delegates from a wide range of different departments, with a diverse range of interests. This led to a very informal setup, with attendees sat around small, circular tables, in a cosy, unpretentious room. Overall, there was a very relaxed feel, with enthralling and varied keynote speeches by Siobhan McElduff, Oliver Taplin, and Rachel Mairs. A fully packed program of 24 papers ensued, in subjects from “Reselling, Reshaping and Repackaging Aristophanes: Translations and Adaptations of Lysistrata on the Modern Stage” (James Robson) to “Necessity and practice of translation at Rome in the first century AD” (Amedeo Raschieri), by speakers from postgraduates to professors, and from fully finished papers to work-in-progress projects. A memorable point for me was watching Nina Mindt present her paper… whilst holding her baby!

And the stunning inside.

Almost at the end of two very long days, it was time for my paper, ‘Translating the narrator: seeing, feeling, hearing Virgil’s voice in modern translations’. Whilst it went well, my time-keeping was less than spot-on, and so I found myself anxiously checking the clock and subsequently cutting out phrases and sentences as I spoke. Fortunately, it seemed to be well received. I had a range of supportive comments and questions which showed good engagement. Several people sought further discussion about my paper afterwards, and I have since had a few emails from other delegates wanting to stay in touch or asking me about further opportunities. In fact, I’ve come back from the conference with two subsequent publication offers, some really decent networks, and some good friends.

As I’d secured some funding for travel, my partner and I decided to save up some pennies and plan a Scandinavian adventure around the conference. We travelled on from Oslo by train through beautiful Stockholm and super-hipster Copenhagen. Yes, it was cold and dark, but the magic of the Christmas markets, the “hygge” vibes, and the mulled wine totally made up for it.

An Oslo Christmas market.

Whilst I am definitely guilty of a propensity to take on more than I have time for, this conference was one of my highlights. I discovered that going abroad to present your research gives you access to a completely new audience, with different approaches and ways of interacting. And, most importantly for me, being at an international conference has the wonderful effect of popping the PhD bubble in which you inevitably sometimes feel stuck. Being in a different country, chatting to people of lots of different nationalities, you get an idea of what you’re really part of, and how big and exciting it is. To find people with common interests, and people who are interested to learn more about your research, working perhaps hundreds (or thousands) of miles away from you, is both humbling and thrilling.

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