Tony Keen: Designing a Classics and Cinema Module

This spring I returned to teaching Roehampton’s third-year Classics and Cinema module. It was to teach this that I’d first come to Roehampton, though after a couple of presentations I’d been lured away by the prospect of teaching an MRes Theories and Methods module.

I inherited this module from the much-missed Rosemary Barrow, at quite short notice. So I was very much tied into Rosemary’s structure and her choice of movies, though, of course, I taught those in my own style. As an art historian, Rosemary had been particularly interested in links between painting and cinema; as someone who’s taught film history, I’m interested in placing movies in their wider cinematic context.

This year, I had more of a lead-in, and so could make the module much more my own. This didn’t mean tearing it down and building it up again from scratch. There was much I wanted to keep from my previous versions, and I could also draw upon what had been done by my colleagues Marta Garcia-Morcíllo and Anastasia Bakogianni, who’d taught it in the intervening years. Continue reading

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AMPRAW Call for Papers: ‘Community’

We are delighted to announce our call for papers for the seventh Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in the Reception of the Ancient World (AMPRAW), focusing on the theme of “community”.

AMPRAW, an important academic event both within and outside the UK, is an annual postgraduate conference centred on the reception and impact of the ancient world on modern thought and identities. Since its inception in 2011, AMRAW has helped to establish an international postgraduate community for researchers interested in Classical Reception Studies. AMPRAW has been held at different institutions around the UK (though never in Scotland), and is dedicated to fostering and strengthening connections between postgraduates, ECRs, established academics, and practitioners working in Classical Reception.

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We are excited to announce our forthcoming workshop in the reception of the ancient Greek and Roman classics in 20th- and 21st-century poetry.

This one-day workshop will be a collaboration with Classics And Poetry Now (CAPN), an international project designed to foster long-term, collaborative research in the field, led by Prof Lorna Hardwick (Open University), and the Institute of Classical Studies.

It is aimed specifically at Postgraduate and Early Career post-doctoral researchers* (but attendance is open to all career stages) and will be held on Thursday 2nd November 2017 at the Institute of Classical Studies, Senate House, London, UK.

Respondent: Prof Lorna Hardwick.

Expressions of Interest welcome NOW. Continue reading

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Amanda Potter: Wonder Woman – An “Awesome” Ancient Hero for the Modern World

It was with much excitement and a little nervousness that I went to the cinema on 3 June to watch the new Wonder Woman film, directed by Patty Jenkins and featuring Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. I had been waiting for a long time for this movie. Seventy-five years after her first appearance in 1941 in All Star Comics, and after  , Wonder Woman finally had her own feature film, which re-tells her origin story.  In the film, Princess Diana volunteers to leave the island where she grew up in order to help the allies fight evil in the First World War – rather than the Second World War,  as in the original comic and 1970’s TV series. I had high expectations, after Gadot’s brief but shining appearance as Wonder Woman in the otherwise lacklustre Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), which I discussed in The Conversation. And I came away happy: the consensus from friends and colleagues was that this Wonder Woman was “awesome”, with only a few reservations. (The critics have tended to agree, with the film four stars.).  My response to the film is that of a classicist and a feminist, and where Wonder Woman is concerned it is important to consider both these angles. Not only is she an Amazon with origins in Greek mythology, she is also a much-contested feminist icon.

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Christopher McDonough: Forgetting and Remembering Jules Dassin’s Phaedra

Last month, I was at the Classical Association meeting in Canterbury and, having heard many fine papers on film reception, was finishing up my meal at the Friday night banquet when the loud music began to play signaling the start of the disco. That was my cue to head to the bar, which some University of Kent students happened to be tending. “What’ll you have?” asked a nice young man whose forearm was tattooed with  Ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς (“With it or on it”). Maybe you’re studying Classics, I said as he poured my beer, but no, he replied, his dad was Greek though he was studying here in Kent. “Do you know this old Tony Perkins film,” I asked, “about another student in England whose father is Greek?” He gave me the look most students do when I begin to talk about old black-and-white movies, but I continued. “His father asks his stepmother, who’s Greek, to come to London to bring him home, but she ends up falling in love with him and they carry on this torrid affair until eventually consumed by shame he commits suicide by driving his Aston Martin off a cliff into the Aegean.” His eyes were wide by this point, as were those of the other bartenders. “What’s the name of this movie?” they wanted to know.

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Ben Greet: Classics in Star Trek

Star Trek exists as what Daniel Bernardi calls a ‘mega-text’, a group of televisual, filmic, literary, auditory, and other ‘texts’ that all share a relatively cohesive fictional universe. The amount of ‘texts’ that make up the Star Trek franchise includes hundreds of hours of television and films, hundreds of books and audio books, and numerous video games. It spans over fifty years, from the first television episode in 1966 to the latest novel published in February 2017. Not only is this ‘mega-text’ similar to Classical mythology – which also uses the same characters and stories told by different authors across different media – it also includes a number of classical references itself.

The franchise therefore provides us with a unique opportunity to examine classical reception in science-fiction through semantically connected texts and over a significant time period. Not only can we see how approaches to the classical world change over time, we can also see how the audience response to them has altered. While some receptions will be rooted in their historical contexts, others may morph over Star Trek’s long fifty-year history. Continue reading

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Introducing the ‘Classical World New Zealand’ Project

by Anastasia Bakogianni, Lecturer in Classical Studies, Massey University (Auckland campus)

How have New Zealanders received the classical world? How have they adapted and transformed it for use in their own culture and the arts? Why do they feel this deep connection with ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt? These are the fundamental questions that Classical World New Zealand, a new project based at Massey University, seeks to illuminate.

Raemon Rolfe, Reliquiae: Text and Vessels (2016)

When I arrived on the beautiful shores of Aotearoa (the Māori name for New Zealand) last year I was curious to learn more about how New Zealanders and New Zealand based practitioners responded to the classical world. Having worked for many years for the CRSN and been an interviewer for Practitioners’ Voices in Classical Reception and Classics Confidential I was already aware of the existence of such receptions. But I was still surprised by the richness and variety of these connections, and I am happily looking forward to discovering more. This is surely yet more proof of the ongoing impact of the classical world on our own modern global culture. Continue reading

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Anastasia Bakogianni: Between Tradition and Creativity – Modern Greek Cinematic Receptions of the Classical World

How can ancient tragedy be transplanted into the modern medium of film? What are some of the obstacles filmmakers have to overcome when they attempt to transform an ancient theatrical play into a movie? What challenges do we face when we use their films in our classrooms? And finally, is there ever a point beyond which we should stop referring to a film as a ‘reception’ of an ancient drama(s), or could we even talk about the reception of the very concept of ancient tragedy itself? These are some of the exciting questions that scholars working in this area have been engaging with and the discussion is ongoing, so join in!

Cacoyannis' chorus comforts Electra

Cacoyannis’ chorus comforts Electra

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Kim Shahabudin: Simply the best? Or not so simply…

A recent post on a Facebook Group asked what the “best” film versions of the Iliad, Odyssey and Aeneid were. BIG QUESTION, was my immediate reaction. After all, how do you qualify ‘best’, when you’re thinking about cultural objects? And is it different when those objects are examples of classical reception?

I don’t think this is a trivial question for those of us interested in reception studies with a focus on popular culture. Most academics have had the experience of marking undergraduate essays where critical discussion is replaced by subjective assessments of value. In my experience this is even more prevalent when the topic is film. Indeed it can feel as if discussing ‘the best film’ on a particular topic is perceived by students as the purpose of this strand of reception studies. And ‘best’ is most often identified with ‘most authentic’: which is taken to mean the adaptation that most closely follows the narrative, chronology, and (most importantly) the visual and aural conceptions of antiquity students have acquired through their studies.

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Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones: The Epic World of Norma Desmond – An Alternative Guide to Watching Hollywood Epics – Part 2

As I showed in Part 1 of this post, Sunset Boulevard is a film saturated in allusions to an earlier age of filmmaking, but it is in the film’s extraordinary final scene that the blurring of time, space, and genre (film noir and epic) has the greatest impact. The despairing end of Sunset Boulevard sees the mad and murderous faded movie star made to believe that she is shooting the film – Salome – she has been so desperate to make. She is compelled to believe it so that she can be taken away to prison or, more likely, an asylum. This is the last scene of the movie as it appears in the original shooting-script: Continue reading

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