King’s Palaeography: like a phoenix from the ashes…or a water fowl in flames?

What photoshop is for...

n 30 June (which makes it way dated, I know!), the Palaeography Working Group at King’s College issued its final report. Michelle Brown at the School for Advanced Study in London wrote a letter clarifying some (mis)representations, but expressed support for the report’s recommendation to re-establish a chair in palaeography.

The people appointed to the group (and its recommendation) suggest that the group was not hand-picked to whitewash the matter. And given the likely support for palaeography from these individuals, the rationale behind sacking one chair in palaeography only to have to re-establish a chair in the future is perplexing. Of course, I can run through possible reasons, but these would not even be based on gossip or other sources of unreliable information. And I spend enough time talking about stuff I know nothing about when I’m teaching (so I’ll refrain here!).

Most striking to me is how serious or grave or possibly cynical and maybe even short-sighted the thing was. Let’s assume a position is re-established on more advantageous financial footing and suiting the remit envisaged by the working group’s paper. The person offered the new position will be fully aware of the fate of her/his predecessor and other prominent, productive academics who were cut as part of the restructuring at King’s.

Imagine: Hey, we just fired a guy who held this permanent position because we thought it was untenable…erm, you want the job?

Or are we as academic workers so ready to acquiesce, that it ain’t even worth a second thought?


  1. Many thanks for your kind words of support, to which I fear King’s college will remain deaf.

  2. Thanks, David. The whole affair has been at best perplexing, but really much more chilling. An unwelcome eye-opener for us all.

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