Inaugural – ave atque vale?

Did the inaugural go well? Well, yes, on balance. About 100 in the audience, they laughed at most of my funny stories, the food was excellent (was someone making a point there? But now I know that Catering can do better for vegans than the standard plate of salad with NO dressing: and wasn’t it interesting that the vegan stuff went first?), lovely to see so many past students.

Inaugurals are tricky things. On the one hand you have to showcase the intellectual credentials that (presumably) explain how you got made a prof. On the other hand there will be lots of people in the audience who aren’t specialists: so this probably isn’t the time for that fascinating discussion of epigraphical conventions in late 16th century tomb carvings. By the time you’ve explained the symbolic significance of roman v blackletter text, tried to give a slightly more nuanced account of Puritanism, touched on closet Catholicism and tried to find something tactful to say about the Papal bull Regnans in Excelsis (look it up on Wikipedia, OK?) you’ve had your 45 minutes. At least with a mature audience you can assume most of them will know which one Jesus was – though it can be tricky adjusting for an audience with several nuns and at least one Presbyterian lay preacher.

Will I get round to publishing it? Probably not. The whole point of the talk was the importance of the Welsh dimension in Reformation studies and the difficulty of getting Welsh material into the big international journals. There’s not much point in publishing it just for a Welsh audience – not that the Welsh audience is unimportant, but I’ve already published virtually all of what I said in a range of Welsh national and county-level journals. It’s still (as I explained on the night) work in progress. The ideas are interesting and (I hope) challenging and important. But getting it into one of the English or international journals would mean a lot of effort and my conclusions would have to be presented as more finished and more convincing than they actually are. And it still might not work.

So here it is, ‘with all faults’ as they say.

Inaugural M Gray

More from the Gwent County History archive in a few days.

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