Liam Preston, Bob and Sandy Jessett PhD Scholar

PhD Classics and Ancient History

Firstly, I would just like to state that I hope you and yours are continuing to stay healthy and safe during the (seemingly never-ending) lockdowns.

Research Progress:

I am now into the final year of my PhD and am happy to report that I am currently on track to submit by the end of August/beginning of September. Since the start of the academic year I have worked hard to make sure that I have a draft of every chapter of my thesis and I completed this task at the end of January 2021. The thesis now contains five chapters (one on the author Lucan, two on Petronius, and two on Seneca) and I decided to split the Petronius and Seneca chapters as they were quite large and it allowed for a more detailed analysis. The Lucan and Petronius chapters are much more literary-focused (i.e. how the literature uses Epicurean philosophy) and the Seneca chapters take a deeper look at how a Stoic author such as Seneca adopted Epicureanism to help further Stoic causes. All of the chapters now work together to demonstrate that there is a renewed interest in Epicurean ethics in the age that they are all writing (the Neronian Age), as well as an interest in how the figure of the Epicurean is portrayed. I now have only the introduction and the conclusion left to write and I am hoping to have both of these done (or at least nearing a draft) by the end of March. After this point, my supervisors and I will begin the editing of everything to produce ‘final edits’ on each chapter.

Unfortunately, the pandemic put an end to many of the conferences I had planned in the first part of this year, but I have been accepted to speak at a conference in London and the paper which I submitted there will hopefully lead to a publication. I will also be speaking at an event at Exeter within the next few months.

Milestones Achieved and Experience Gained:

I have been part of a Shared Learning Project on Ancient Happiness and its application in the Modern Age. This is a discussion group and analysis project in conjunction with the University of the Third Age and one of my supervisors. The project has been an excellent way to increase my knowledge of Ancient philosophy, but also the project has helped me to better articulate Ancient philosophical ideas to those with no prior knowledge. We have hosted a series of workshops and the project is almost ready to submit publications with various journals and websites.

I have also been able, much in part to your generous funding, to offer some Latin tutoring which has both helped to solidify my own knowledge, but also has helped me to gain experience teaching a language.

Finally, before Christmas I applied for a research stay at the Fondation Hardt in Geneva (it has a fantastic Classics library which will be vital to some aspects of the thesis) and I was accepted! This is a fantastic opportunity and one which – pandemic permitting – I will hopefully be able to make use of in July.

Benefits of Funding:

The numerous benefits of the generous funding which you have provided cannot be restated enough. Firstly, many colleagues and friends have had huge financial worries as part of the uncertainty of the lockdown and I feel extremely fortunate to have not had these concerns. Whilst others have lost income, I have been able to continue to focus on my thesis and the relief of this cannot be understated. The funding also helped me to purchase some texts needed as they have not been accessible during the closure of all libraries.

Regarding the Geneva visit, the funding has also been vital. Although the stay comes with a small grant to help with accommodation costs, other expenses are my own and your funding has allowed me to apply for this excellent opportunity without concern.

Next Steps:

As stated above, I have now completed a draft of the entire thesis and am now currently beginning to work on a draft of the introduction and conclusion. Once these have been completed, I will begin to edit the entire project with the aim of a submission in August/September 2021. I am hoping to have one or two publications in the works by the end of this academic year as well, one from the conference in London and one or two from the Ancient Philosophy workshop I have been involved with.

I am happy to currently be on track to complete the PhD within the three years.

Thank You:

I would once again like to thank you for the support you have given me and to reiterate that I would not have been able to continue to work on this project without your support. I hope that you and your family continue to stay safe and well.

I very much hope that we are able to meet either face-to-face or virtually at some point before or just after my submission. This project would not have been possible without your support and I would like the opportunity to emphasise this in person (or at least via a webcam!).