Neuroscience and the performance of ancient drama on the modern stage, with Peter Meineck

On the occasion of the Cambridge Greek Play 2013, CC’S Anastasia Bakogianni caught up with Clinical Associate Professor of Classics Peter Meineck (New York University).  As well as being an academic, Peter is a theatre practioner and the founder of Aquila Theatre.

In this interview, Peter explains why Greek drama matters today and the important messages that these ancient plays can convey. He is currently working on a book which explores the effect of Greek drama on audiences by drawing on some of the latest research from the field of cognitive theory and neuroscience. Here he talks about the appeal of Athenian drama and its continuing power to move audiences. Peter also tells us about the therapeutic value of Greek drama and his project Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives which brought Greek Literature to combat veterans in the United States and served to open up dialogue on the theme of war and its impact.

Peter is also a translator who aims to create translations of Greek tragedy and comedy that work on the stage. He is currently engaged in a project to translate Menander which he hopes will bring the master of New Comedy to new audiences.

This interview was filmed in the Museum of Classical Archaeology in the Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge. CC would like to gratefully acknowledge the help of the Curator, Dr Susanne Turner.

Watch our interview here!

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Perseids and the Sea, with Marie-Claire Beaulieu

In this interview Marie-Claire Beaulieu talks to CC’s Elton Barker about two different topics. First, the Perseids project, which is an open-access and open-source online editing platform developed by the Perseus Digital Library team. Perseids facilitates the collaborative editing and annotating of ancient documents such as texts, inscriptions, and manuscripts. Perseids is intended as an open environment in which scholars, students, and members of the public can participate in the creation and dissemination of knowledge by publishing new documents and making old ones more accessible via annotations, translations, links to supporting materials, and commentaries. You can find out more on the Perseids blog. Second,  Marie-Claire discusses her ongoing research into the sea in Greek mythology. The sea functions as both a geographical and a cosmological boundary, since it separates countries and continents, but also separates mortals, immortals, and the dead. The mythical river Ocean, in the furthest reaches of the sea, marks the line of the horizon and provides a gateway to Hades and Olympus. Similarly, the physical sea is connected to Hades and to the surface by way of deep tunnels, rivers, and springs. Marine animals, especially ducks and dolphins, embody these characteristics of the sea and they function as intermediaries between men, the gods, and the dead.

Click on the image below or follow this link to watch the interview on our YouTube channel.

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Popular Culture and the Democratisation of Classics, with Tony Keen

Dr Tony Keen, Associate Lecturer and Research Affiliate at The Open University, returns to CC to report on his conference Swords, Sorcery, Sandals and Space: The Fantastika and the Classical World (29 June – 1 July 2013; follow this link to watch an earlier interview with Tony, filmed before the conference last year). He reveals some of the highlights of the conference, and discusses his plans for an edited collection.

Tony argues that a close engagement with the reception of Classics in popular culture can facilitate the democratisation process of our subject. Popular culture is the gateway through which most people come into contact with ancient Greece and Rome, thus making it an important site for research and cross-disciplinary dialogue.

Tony tells us more about his research into classical reception in science fiction and fantasy, and also talks about his new project Screening Roman Britain (a co-authored book that he writing in collaboration with another OU Associate Lecturer, Juliette Harrisson).

Follow this link to watch the interview on our YouTube channel!

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Classical Archaeology and Public Engagement, with Lucilla Burn and Anastasia Christophilopoulou

You may remember watching a 2010 Classics Confidential interview with Dr Kate Cooper in the newly refurbished Greek and Roman galleries of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Last week, Classics Confidential returned to the galleries to catch up with Keeper of Antiquities Dr Lucilla Burn and Outreach Officer Dr Anastasia Christophilopoulou.

We talked primarily about an exciting new project called ‘Material Culture(s) in Public Engagement’, which aims to investigate themes related with ancient family life and the domestic environment using objects in the museum collections. One strand of the project will involve working with four different audience groups, who will bring their own unique insights to a range of carefully-chosen artefacts: i) adult disability groups including blind and partially sighted, ii)
disabled children and young people with particular health needs, iii) immigrant and refugee groups and iv) the local LGBT community in Cambridge.

The culmination of the  project (Spring 2015) will coincide with a series of public events and  hopefully with an ‘academic’ meeting  of Museum professionals across  Europe on the theme of ‘Public Archaeology’. For more information please keep an eye on the Fitzwilliam Museum’s website, and we’ll post updates on our Facebook page and Twitter feed too.

Follow this link to watch our interview on YouTube

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Classical Reception, Past, Present and Future, with Lorna Hardwick

Classical Receptions JournalCC’s Anastasia Bakogianni talks with Lorna Hardwick, Emerita Professor at the Open University, about classical reception. Lorna has worked and published extensively in this research area. She is the author of Translating Words, Translating Cultures (Duckworth: 2000) and Reception Studies (Greece and Rome: 2003); she has also co-edited three significant collections Classics in Post-Colonial Worlds (Oxford University Press: 2007), A Companion to Classical Receptions (Blackwell: 2008) and more recently Classics in the Modern World: A Democratic Turn? (OUP: 2013). In addition she promotes new work in the field in her role as the general editor of the Classical Receptions Journal (OUP).

Classics in Post-Colonial WorldsTogether with James I. Porter she is also the general editor of Classical Presences (OUP), a series devoted to publishing monographs and edited collections that explore the multi-faceted field of classical reception. Lorna’s recent work investigates aspects of the reception of historiography. Her essays on this topic include ‘Moving targets, Modern contests: Marathon and cultural memory’, in C. Carey and M. Edwards, eds. (2013) Marathon – 2,500 Years, London, BICS, pp. 275-288, and ‘Concepts’, in N. Morley and C. Lee, eds., Handbook to the Reception of Thucydides, Malden MA and Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell (2014 forthcoming).

Persian Warriors at the Ishtar Gate, from before the fourth century BCE. Pergamon Museum/Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin. Photo Mohammed Shamma (2003). Used under CC-BY terms. All rights reserved.

Marathon – 2,500 Years (see above for full details of book): Persian Warriors at the Ishtar Gate, from before the fourth century BCE. Pergamon Museum/Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin. Photo Mohammed Shamma (2003). Used under CC-BY terms. All rights reserved.

Classical Receptions JournalIn this interview Lorna talks about the explosion of interest in the performance, adaptation and poetic responses to classical material in the last part of the 20th century. The reasons for this and its effects both on the creative arts and on how classics might be perceived in the future will be the concern of future cultural historians.
Classics in the Modern WorldTo support this, Lorna has developed databases that preserve information that might otherwise be
ephemeral. Documentation and analysis of key examples of drama and poetry can be freely accessed on the website of the Reception of Classical Texts Project.

Follow this link or click on the image below to watch our interview

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The Dark Side of Democracy, with David Pritchard

War, Democracy and Culture in Classsical Athens

Upon the completion of his research fellowship at the University of Edinburgh, CC’S Anastasia Bakogianni caught up with Dr David Pritchard of the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics at the University of Queensland.  David tells us about his new research project Democracy’s Impact on War-making in Ancient Athens and Today. In the modern world Classical Athens is associated with the institution of democracy and its rich cultural output, but in the fifth century BCE it was an imperialist and bellicose polis that took pride in its military prowess.

David explains how sport and warfare were closely linked in ancient Athens. Sportsmen were members of the elite, but they were celebrated by the democratic polis. For Athenian men arete in all types of competition was the ideal to which they aspired. David has explored these issues in his monograph Sport, Democracy and War in Classical Athens (CUP, 2012) and in his edited collection War, Democracy and Culture in Classical Athens (CUP, 2011).

Sport, Democracy and War in Classical AthensOn the modern stage Greek tragedy is often used as a tool to criticise the abuse of power and to condemn war. Euripides’ Troades, which portrays the suffering of the women of Troy, has become a vehicle for delivering this anti-war message. David points out that in a number of his dramas, like the Suppliants and Children of Heracles, Euripides celebrates Athens’ success in war. The democratic polis and its citizens valorised victory in all arenas of life.


January 24, 2014 · 7:42 pm

The Power of Rhetoric, with Mike Edwards

On the occasion of his visit to the Milton Keynes’ campus of The Open University CC’S Anastasia Bakogianni caught up with Professor Mike Edwards (Roehampton University, London). Mike talks to us about the bad reputation of Rhetoric and how Plato and Aristotle contributed to this negative view of his favourite subject.

Mike tells us how he fell under the spell of Rhetoric while studying with Stephen Usher at Royal Holloway College, London, who taught him that rhetorical speeches are worthy of study in their own right rather than as simply evidence for the study of ancient history and law.  He talks to us about the joy of editing and translating rhetorical texts and his interest in the minutiae of manuscripts and their transmission.

Mike tells us about the rare joy of rediscovering a ‘lost’ text. He was involved with the Archimedes Palimpsest project working closely with other experts in the field to uncover a lost manuscript written by Hyperides, an Athenian orator from the fourth century BCE, that was discovered hidden underneath a thirteenth-century prayer book.

Mike believes strongly that the works of the Greek and Latin orators should be accessible through translations to ensure the survival of the subject. Towards that end he translated the complete works of Isaeus (University of Texas, 2007), another fourth century BCE orator who specialised in inheritance law. Mike’s volume belongs to the Oratory of Classical Greece series edited by Michael Gagarin.

Mike is Vice-President of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric and was editor of its journal Rhetorica (2005-11), which accepts submissions in six languages, including Latin!

He is currently working on a new Oxford text of Isaeus and enjoying the process of going back to the Greek text.

Follow this link or click on the image below to watch the interview!

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