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Level 6

6AACTL70 An Introduction to Classical Reception Studies in Sixteen Encounters

Credit value: 30
Module convenor/tutor 2017/18: Professor Edith Hall & Dr Daniel Orrells (Semester 2 only)                                                                                     Module convenor/tutor 2018/19: Dr Daniel Orrells & Professor Gonda Van Steen
Teaching pattern: 20 x 2-hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 2 x 5,000-word essays (the higher marked essay is weighted at 70%, the lower is weighted at 30%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand, there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

This module is intended to introduce students to Classical Reception Studies through a range of case-studies.

Each case-study will explore the presence of a classical text or artefact in world culture since the 18th century. The impact of a broad range of familiar and significant cultural phenomena from antiquity will be considered (for example, Greek and Roman poetry, prose, architecture and statuary). We will explore how classical antiquity has shaped modern literature and philosophy, theatre and film, and modern art and architecture.

 Students will become acquainted with the main principles and theoretical issues in Classical Reception Studies, and develop an awareness of the varied and colourful histories of modern responses to ancient Greek and Roman culture. In doing so, they will engage with interdisciplinary materials by using interpretations of cultural artefacts produced in several Humanistic disciplines in addition to Classics. They will appreciate the continuing vitality of the Greek and Roman classics in contemporary culture, and develop broader conceptual contexts within which to situate the classical knowledge they have acquired in other modules during the course of their undergraduate studies. Students will have the option of exploring an additional case-study of their own choice in one of their two assessed essays.

 

Module Description: pre-2018/19

Each case-study, for example the Victorians’ use of Aesop’s Fables as children’s literature, will explore the presence of a classical text or artefact in British culture since the 18th century. A broad range of familiar and significant cultural phenomena from antiquity will be considered (Greek and Roman poetry, prose, architecture and statuary): they include translations of Homer and Virgil, popular fiction and theatre, the Elgin marbles and the Venus de Milo, body-building, and modern performance poetry, as well as several movies (Spartacus, 300, Walt Disney’s Hercules). 

Students will become acquainted with the main principles and theoretical issues in Classical Reception Studies, and develop an awareness of the varied and colourful histories of British responses to ancient Greek and Roman culture. In doing so, they will engage with interdisciplinary materials by using interpretations of cultural artefacts produced in several Humanistic disciplines in addition to Classics. They will appreciate the continuing vitality of the Greek and Roman Classics in contemporary culture, and develop broader conceptual contexts within which to situate the classical knowledge they have acquired in other modules during the course of their undergraduate studies. Students will be encouraged to explore an additional case-study of their own choice in one of their two assessed essays.


Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

  • Stuart Gillespie, The Poets on the Classics (London and New York: Routledge 1988)—an anthology of English-language literary responses to ancient Greek and Latin writers.
  • Lorna Hardwick, Classical Reception Studies (OUP 2003)—concise and sensible introduction to the main issues in the field.
  • L. Hardwick and C. Stray (eds.) Blackwell Companion to Classical Receptions (Blackwell 2007)—important collection of essays by specialists within different areas of reception.
  • Edith Hall and Fiona Macintosh, Greek Tragedy and the British Theatre 1660-1917 (OUP 2005)—substantial and path-breaking study of the performance history of Greek drama in the UK.
  • Edith Hall, Fiona Macintosh and Amanda Wrigley (eds.) Dionysus since 69: Greek Drama at the Dawn of the Third Millennium (OUP 2004).
  • Richard Jenkyns, The Victorians and Ancient Greece (Oxford, Blackwell 1980)—landmark study of the importance of the ancient Greeks to 19th-century authors and artists.
  • Jon Solomon, The Ancient World in the Cinema (New Haven: Yale University Press 2001)
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