It was our Newnham finalists' annual trip to Paris on Saturday (and this blog comes with heartfelt thanks to all those who have made this event possible with their generous donations). As I have said on previous years, it's a long day: leave Cambridge just after 5.00, onto the 7.30 Eurostar, 90+ minutes in the Louvre before lunch (see the mille feuilles above.. NOT, let me stress, paid for by donor money), then another 90+ minutes in the museum, then a drink in a café, then back on the train, knackered. Participants were all our college finalists, plus me and Francesca Martelli who has been a lecturer with us for a year but is now (sadly for us, happily for her) going off to be Assistant Prof at UCLA.
There really isn't a better way of cheering yourself up before the final exams, as well as seeing some really good visual and archaeological material that you might never have seen before. We had (as often) a great talk together about the Louvre Hermaphrodite. What is the point of this figure which is a female from one side and a male from the other? I was trying to argue that it was not just a clever joke, but an attempt much more fundamentally to challenge the foundations of how you can judge what you see... Francesca tried to push us to consider how flimsy its male characteristics were, no more than a little willy (and so what does that say about masculinity?).