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Dr Christine Plastow

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Lecturer in Classical Studies
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Arts & Humanities
  • Classical Studies
  • christine.plastow

Professional biography

I began my career as an undergraduate at Royal Holloway, University of London, where I studied English Literature and Classical Studies. I then moved to the University of Bristol for a Masters in Classics and Ancient History, before ending up at University College London, where I wrote my PhD on ‘Athenian Homicide Rhetoric in Context’ under the supervision of Chris Carey. While at UCL, I worked as a teaching assistant in Greek and Latin, and a tutor in the UCL Writing Lab. I joined the Open University in 2017 as a Lecturer in Classical Studies.

Research interests

My research focuses primarily on Athenian forensic oratory and law, as well as Athenian oratory more broadly. My PhD thesis examined the distinctive role of homicide in Athenian law and culture, and explored how this distinctiveness played out in rhetoric in four pertinent areas: Athenian ideology, religious pollution, relevance, and the twin issues of motivation and intent. This research will appear as a book titled Homicide in the Attic Orators: Rhetoric, Ideology, and Context in 2019, published by Routledge. One aspect that arose from this study was the importance of location in defining appropriate content for rhetoric; interesting distinctions could be seen between homicide rhetoric delivered in the homicide courts, and that delivered in the popular courts. This observation informed my current project, which looks at space, place, and identity in Attic forensic oratory, combining a social historical approach with methodologies from cognitive science and new institutionalism. This project has begun with two case studies on the functioning of space and place as related to identity, in Antiphon 5 and Lysias 13; the former of these will appear in a colleced volume on identity in Attic oratory in 2020.

In my approach to the subjects of law and forensic oratory, I endeavour to view the two as symbiotic. I believe that we cannot examine aspects of law which appear in the forensic speeches without considering the rhetorical factors which may influence them; similarly, we should not attempt to read forensic speeches without some knowledge of the laws which underpinned their delivery. More generally, I am interested in the importance of viewing works of Athenian oratory not as texts but as speeches, with an emphasis on the act, moment, and location of delivery, and the influence these can have on the original audience’s and our own understanding of their content. Regarding Athenian law, my approach is neither wholly that of ‘law and society’ nor of the rule of law, but rather a combination of the two: I argue that the writing of laws should not be taken out of its societal context, as this may tell us much about wider society, but that the courts are more than a ground for simple social contest between participants, with law holding a certain power of its own.  

Besides these primary research interests, I am interested in classical reception, and particularly receptions of Greek drama in the 20th and 21st centuries; I focus on how aspects of the ancient theatrical experience can be echoed in modern performance. I also maintain research interests in translation theory and feminist theory in Classics.

Teaching interests

I am on several module teams in Classical Studies: A275 Reading Classical Greek: Language and Literature, A276 Classical Latin: the Language of Ancient Rome, A229 Exploring the Classical World, and A864 MA Classical Studies part 2. I wrote the OpenLearn unit Introducing Homer's Iliad, and am currently authoring materials for the Classical Studies section of the new interdisciplinary module A112 Cultures. I particularly enjoy teaching Greek language, and have done so many times in the past, both at university and privately, as well as teaching Latin. I have also really enjoyed teaching seminars on Athenian Law and Homer, and lectures on Greek history as part of the V&A's year course 'The Classical World and its Afterlife'.

Impact and engagement

I am an Associate Director of By Jove Theatre Company, a London-based collective producing new work from old stories. We are currently developing a project looking at Orestes and Pylades, and exploring how storytelling and historical representation provide legitimacy and shared history for queer communities. Research and development for the project has been generously funded by the Institute of Classical Studies Public Engagement Grant and the Arts Council England. I have also previous organised poetry events around women in the Homeric poems and the motif of weaving in women's stories with By Jove.


Conversations with Iphigenia: two roundtable discussions with the playwrights of 'The Iphigenia Quartet' (2018)
Plastow, Christine
Practitioners' Voices in Classical Reception Studies, 9
Homicide in the Attic Orators: Rhetoric, Ideology, and Context (2019-12)
Plastow, Christine
Publisher : Routledge (In Press)
Space, place, and identity in Antiphon 'On the Murder of Herodes' (2020)
Plastow, Christine
In: Filonik, Jakub; Griffith-Williams, Brenda and Kucharski, Janek eds. Constructing Identities in Athenian Oratory ((In Press))
Publisher : Routledge
The Devil's in the Detail: Including 'irrelevant' details in homicide narratives. (2019-08-01)
Plastow, Christine
In: Edwards, Mike and Spatharas, Dimos eds. Forensic Narratives in Athenian Courts (pp. 40-54)
ISBN : 9781315104461 | Publisher : Routledge
Staff-Student partnerships in pedagogy and research-based education: lessons for Classics (2018)
Plastow, Christine
Council of University Classical Departments Bulletin 47