My classical career began with a degree in Greek and Roman Studies at Exeter, followed by postgraduate work at King’s College London, where I completed a PhD on humour and obscenity in the works of the Greek comic playwright, Aristophanes. Since arriving at the OU in 2000, I have been involved in the production of a number of the department’s courses, with the bulk of my work centring on fifth-century Greece and our Latin and Greek language modules.
I have previously served as Head of Department of Classical Studies (2011-14) and Head of the School of Arts & Humanities (2016-19) and am currently Honorary Secretary of the Classical Association. I take a keen interest in teaching and pedagogy and am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
A major strand of my research concerns the Greek comic playwright Aristophanes, especially the humour and sexuality of his plays and their translation into English. More recently I have been looking at sex and sexuality in classical Athenian society in general and concepts of beauty and sex appeal in particular as well as male prostitution in classical Athens. I am currently working on a book on Aristophanes' Lysistrata.
I have previously supervised a number of PhD students working on classical Greek literary, cultural and linguistic topics.
Jointly with M. Masterson and N. S. Rabinowitz (eds), Sex in Antiquity: Reconsidering Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World, Routledge
Sex and Sexuality in Classical Athens, Debates and Documents in Ancient History, Edinburgh University Press
Jointly with Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones: Ctesias’ History of Persia: Tales of the Orient, Routledge
Aristophanes: An Introduction, Duckworth (shortlisted for the Runciman Award, 2010)
Humour, Obscenity and Aristophanes, Gunter Narr. See this text online at Google books.
Jointly with F. McHardy and D. Harvey (eds), Lost Dramas of Classical Athens: Greek Tragic Fragments, University of Exeter Press
'Whoring, Gaping and Hiding Meat: The Humour of Male-on-Male Sexual Insults in Aristophanes' Knights', Archimède 5: 24-34 [PDF available online]
‘Humouring the masses: The Theatre Audience and the Highs and Lows of Aristophanic Comedy’, in L. Grig (ed.), Popular Culture in the Ancient World, Cambridge University Press, 66-87
'Aristophanes, Gender and Sexuality', in P. Walsh (ed.), Brill's Companion to the Reception of Aristophanes, Brill, 44-66
'The Frogs and Thesmophoriazusae', in A. Singh (ed.), Causeries, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, NL, 154-66
Jointly with Mark Masterson, 'The Book and its Influence', preface to the re-issue of K. J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality, Bloomsbury, xv-xxvii
‘Fantastic Sex: Fantasies of Sexual Assault in Aristophanes’, in M. Masterson, N. S. Rabinowitz and J. Robson (eds), Sex in Antiquity: Reconsidering Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World, Routledge, 315-31
'Slipping One In: The Introduction of Obscene Lexical Items in Aristophanes’, S. D. Olson (ed.), Ancient Comedy and Reception: Essays in Honor of Jeffrey Henderson, de Gruyter, 29-50
'The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes', E. Sanders, C. Thumiger, C. Carey and N. J. Lowe (eds), Erôs in Ancient Greece, Oxford University Press, 251-66
‘Beauty and Sex Appeal in Aristophanes’, EuGeStA (Journal on Gender Studies in Antiquity) 3: 43-66 [PDF available online]
'Transposing Aristophanes: The Theory and Practice of Translating Aristophanic Lyric', Greece & Rome 59: 214-44
‘Friends and Foes: The People of Lysistrata’, D. Stuttard (ed.), Looking at Lysistrata, Duckworth, 49-60
‘Lost in Translation? The Problem of (Aristophanic) Humour’, L. Hardwick and C. Stray (eds), A Companion to Classical Receptions, Blackwell, 168-82
‘Catullus 22: Suffenus iste – A Catullan Riddle?’, Classica et Mediaevalia 58: 209-14
‘Self and Society in Classical Athens’, P. Perkins (ed.), Experiencing the Classical World, Open University, 86-109
‘Aristophanes on How to Write Tragedy: What You Wear is What You Are’, F. McHardy, J. Robson and D. Harvey (eds), Lost Dramas of Classical Athens: Greek Tragic Fragments, University of Exeter Press, 173-188
‘New Clothes, A New You: Clothing and Character in Aristophanes’, L. Cleland, L. Llewellyn-Jones and M. Harlow (eds), The Clothed Body in the Ancient World, Oxbow, 65-74
‘Bestiality and Bestial Rape in Greek Myth’, S. Deacy and K. Pearce (eds), Rape in Antiquity, Duckworth, 65-96
Jointly with M. E. Lloyd, 'Staying the Distance: Transforming Latin Pedagogy at the Open University', Journal of Latin Linguistics 18.1-2: 101-128
Jointly with M. E. Lloyd, 'Making IT Count: Measuring Student Engagement with Online Resources at the Open University', in B. Natoli and S. Hunt (eds) Teaching Classics with Technology, Bloomsbury, 39-52
Jointly with M. E. Lloyd, 'A Survey of Beginner's Language Teaching in UK Classics Departments: Ancient Greek', Bulletin of the Council of University Classical Departments 47 [PDF available online]
Jointly with M. E. Lloyd, 'A Survey of Beginner's Language Teaching in UK Classics Departments: Latin', Bulletin of the Council of University Classical Departments 47 [PDF available online]
Jointly with E-J Graham, 'Classics Online at the Open University: Teaching and Learning with Interactive Resources', in A. Holmes-Henderson, M. Musié and S. Hunt (eds), Forward with Classics!: Classical Languages in Schools and Communities, Bloomsbury, 217-29
‘Bridging the Divide: Innovations in Language Teaching at the Open University’, Bulletin of the Council of University Classical Departments 39: 11-14 [PDF available online]
‘Editorial’, Journal of Classics Teaching 13 (spring): 1 [Guest editorship of themed issue on Adult Education]
Reading Greek: Grammar and Exercises, Cambridge University Press: Revisions to Sections 3-9 for 2nd edition: 54-209
Jointly with Jeremy Taylor: ‘Greek and Latin Web Resources at the Open University’, Journal of Classics Teaching 10 (spring): 29-30
‘“Night was departing …”: Using Translations in Post-Beginners’ Language Teaching’, Different Lights, Different Hands (LTSN Subject Centre for History, Classics, Archaeology, 26 January 2002), D. Fitzpatrick and L. Hardwick (eds), Open University, 85-100
‘Commentaries and Post-beginners’ Language Learning’, Old Wine, New Bottles: Texts for Classics in a Changed Learning Environment at University: Proceedings of the Teaching and Learning with Texts, Commentaries and Translations Colloquium (LTSN Subject Centre for History, Classics, Archaeology, 26 January 2002), D. Fitzpatrick, L. Hardwick, S. Ireland and D. Montserrat (eds), Open University, 51-60
Entries on 'Humour and Laughter, Theories of', 'Lampito', 'Translations' and 'Wordplay', in A. H. Sommerstein (ed.), Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Greek Comedy, Wiley-Blackwell [read this online]
'Comforting to Know that Comedians Still Take on the Tough Job of Tackling Taboos', The Scotsman, 14/8/18 [read this online]
Entry on 'Aristophanes', in J. Burgess, E. Kneebone, V. Liapis and L. Swift (eds), The Literary Encyclopedia, Volume 1.1.1: Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Imperial Greek Writing and Culture, 800-100 B.C.E. [read this online]
'Greek Homosexuality for Millennials', ARGO: A Hellenic Review 4: 4-5
'The Truth about Sex in Ancient Greece', The Conversation 1/4/15 [read this online]
‘Classical Comedy was Just as Risqué as Rik Mayall', London Evening Standard, 17/6/14 [read this online]
Entries on ‘Grotesque Character(s)’ and ‘Tragicomedy in Tragedy’ in H. Roisman (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Greek Tragedy, Blackwell
‘Good and Bad Comedy in Aristophanes’ Clouds’, Omnibus 60 (September 2010) 16-18
‘The Ancient Greeks were the True Masters of Obscenity’, London Evening Standard, 25/11/09 [read this online]
‘Humour, Translation and Aristophanes’ Wasps’, Omnibus 52 (September 2006) 32-3
‘Translating Aristophanes’ Humour’, Journal of Classics Teaching 2 (summer) 3-5
See also Open Research Online for further details of James Robson’s research publications.
I have written teaching materials on various aspects of the ancient world, including Greek comedy, Homer’s Iliad (A105, Voices, Texts and Material Culture), and ancient Greek concepts of sexuality and ideals of dress, beauty and adornment (A864 MA Classical Studies Part 2). On the language side, I led the team which produced A275, Reading Classical Greek: Language and Literature, and was lead author for the language strand of A276 Classical Latin: The Language of Ancient Rome. I have previously chaired a number of Greek and Latin language modules, overseen the production of a variety of interactive resources for students of ancient languages, and was lead author of our MA materials on working with Greek and Latin texts (A863 MA Classical Studies Part 1).
My contribution to our classical languages profile was formally recognized in 2006 by an Open University Teaching Award.
I regularly give talks on pedagogy and the teaching of ancient languages and am particularly interested in the use of new technology to support the learning of Latin and Ancient Greek. In 2014 co-organized a conference at the OU on this topic: iLatin and eGreek: Ancient Languages and New Technology. I am currently working with Dr Mair Lloyd on a British Academy funded project called The Battle for Latin: improving retention and progression for beginner’s Latin students in UK universities.
|Greek and Latin Texts Cluster||Cluster||Faculty of Arts|