New Book: The Baptized Muse

Karla Pollmann, The Baptized Muse (Oxford University Press, 2017)

ISBN 978-0-19-872648-7

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-baptized-muse-9780198726487?cc=gb&lang=en&

This book focuses on early Christian poets, mainly from the 4th to the 6th centuries and writing in Latin, whose works have so far been too often dismissed as epigonal. The book chooses a fresh approach by highlighting the intertextual and exegetical means by which early Christian poets achieved a culturally competitive and highly influential standard in writing poetry directed specifically at an educated (would-be) Christian audience for their edification and education. This book will not only fill a considerable gap in our knowledge of the history of European literature, mentality and thought, but will also enable a better understanding of later literary artefacts in this tradition, from Beowulf to Milton’s Paradise Lost. Thus, in a general sense, this book contributes to the recently emerged interdisciplinary interest in looking at aspects of religion as cultural phenomena, and at the interrelationship of theology and literature.

With the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire increasing numbers of educated people converted to this new belief. As Christianity did not have its own educational institutions the issue of how to harmonize pagan education and Christian convictions became increasingly pressing. Especially classical poetry, the staple diet of pagan education, was considered to be morally corrupting (because of its deceitful mythological content) and damaging for the salvation of the soul (because of the false gods it advocated). But Christianity recoiled from an unqualified anti-intellectual attitude, while at the same time the experiment of creating an idiosyncratic form of genuinely Christian poetry failed (the sole exception being the poet Commodianus). This book argues that, instead, Christian poets made creative use of the classical literary tradition, and – in addition to blending it with Judaeo-Christian biblical exegesis – exploited poetry’s special ability of enhancing communicative effectiveness and impact through aesthetic means in order to disseminate the Christian faith. The book seeks to explore these strategies through a close analysis of a wide range of Christian, and for comparison partly also pagan, writers mainly from the fourth to sixth centuries. The book reveals that early Christianity was not a hermetically sealed uniform body, but displays a rich spectrum of possibilities in dealing with the past and a willingness to engage with and adapt the surrounding culture(s), thereby developing diverse and changing responses to historical challenges. By demonstrating throughout that authority is a key in understanding the long denigrated and misunderstood early Christian poets, this book reaches the ground-breaking conclusion that early Christian poetry is an art form that gains its justification by adding cultural authority to Christianity.

KARLA POLLMANN is currently Professor of Classics and Head of the School of Humanities at the University of Reading. She has also been appointed as Adjunct Professor of Theology at the University of Århus, Denmark, and Professor Extraordinary of Classics at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. She is internationally recognized for her monographs on late antique poetry, on Augustine’s hermeneutics, and a commentary, with introduction and text, on Statius, Thebaid 12. She was Principal Investigator of a major international and interdisciplinary project on the reception of Augustine through the ages, generously funded by the Leverhulme Trust, whose main result is the three-volume Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine (OUP 2013). She is currently Co-Investigator of an Innovative Training Network sponsored by the EU, entitled “The History of Human Freedom and Dignity in Western Civilization” (itn-humanfreedom.eu). She is an internationally renowned speaker and her engagements include the deliveries of the 11th Augustine Lectures in Malta in 2007 under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Malta, the 4th Fliedner Lectures on Science and Faith in Madrid in 2013, and the 4th Dutch Annual Lecture in Patristics, at the Dutch Academy of Sciences in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 2014.

Prof. Pollmann re-appointed Extraordinary Professor at Stellenbosch

Prof. Karla Pollmann

Karla Pollmann, Head of the School of Humanities and Professor of Classics, has been re-appointed as Extraordinary Professor at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

This appointment gives recognition of Professor Pollmann’s proven specialized expertise in Classics and Early Christian Studies, and her eminence in her profession and field of study.

It also implies Professor Pollmann to be involved in the academic programmes of the Stellenbosch Department of Ancient Studies.

Many congratulations!

Classics Research Seminars – Spring Term 2017

We are delighted to announce our research seminar programme for Spring Term 2017.

Please note that in weeks 3–5 our regular seminars will be replaced by the fantastic programme of the ‘Greek Tragedy on the Small Screen’ events (further information on which can be found here).

Week 2 – Jan 18: Lyndsay Coo (Bristol), ‘Greek tragedy and the theatre of sisterhood’
Week 3 – Jan 25: Iphigeneia in Aulis (7pm, Minghella Cinema)
Week 4 – Feb 1: Agamemnon (7pm, Minghella Cinema)
Week 5 – Feb  8: Electra (7pm, Minghella Cinema)

No seminar in Week 6

Week 7 – Feb  22: Tosca Lynch (Oxford), ‘The Symphony of Temperance in Republic 4: musical imagery and practical models’
Week 8 – Mar 1: Giulia Biffis (Reading), ‘A Sapphic inter text for Lycophron’s female voice’
Week 9 – Mar 8: Karen Ni-Mheallaigh (Exeter), ‘Eye of night: the Moon as a site of optical paradox in antiquity and beyond’ — CANCELLED
Week 10 – Mar 15: Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (Cardiff), ‘Sexual Violence and a Re-Reading of the Eurymedon Vase’

ADDITIONAL SEMINAR:

Week 10 – Mar 15: Katerina Panagopoulou (University of Crete), ‘Saviour Monarchs in Context: (Ab)uses of the title ’Soter’ in the Hellenistic period’ (2pm, Ure Museum)

Venue and time (unless otherwise stated): HumSS G25, 4pm.

All welcome!

Watch: Naked From the Knees Up – Ancient Latin Textbooks Rediscovered (by Prof. Eleanor Dickey)

On 8 November 2016, Prof. Eleanor Dickey gave a talk to the Roman Society entitled ‘Naked From the Knees Up – Ancient Latin Textbooks Rediscovered’. You may watch her talk here, courtesy of the Roman Society:

The Sixth Annual Percy Ure Lecture

We are delighted to announce the sixth Annual Percy Ure Lecture:

Professor Christopher Smith (British School at Rome):

Commercial Tyrants:
A Model for Central Italy?

Friday, 25 November 2016

5pm

University of Reading
Whiteknights Campus
Henley Business School
Lecture Theatre G15

All welcome!

UreLecture

The lecture is free to attend, but booking is recommended, as space is limited: if you wish to attend, please register your interest with Prof. Peter Kruschwitz at p.kruschwitz@reading.ac.uk.

The Annual Percy Ure Lecture series was launched in 2011 to celebrate the centenary of Reading’s Classics Department:

http://www.reading.ac.uk/classics/about/urelecture.aspx

http://www.reading.ac.uk/classics/about/class-history.aspx

http://www.reading.ac.uk/classics/

New Books from Classics

It has been a busy summer for the department and the Classics research division as we prepared for the new academic year 2016-7. Now we are fully back into the swing of teaching, and we are delighted to share some recent, exciting news with you.

We would like to kick off our updates with a little celebration of our most recent book publications. Over the last few months, in addition to dozens of articles and other formats, a number of important, impactful new books, authored or edited by colleagues from Reading’s Classics department, have been published:

  • Dickey, E. (2016): An introduction to the composition and analysis of Greek prose. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Fournet , J.-L. and Papaconstantinou, A., eds. (2016): Mélanges Jean Gascou: textes et études papyrologiques (P. Gascou). Travaux et Mémoires, 20 (1). Centre d’histoire et civilisation de Byzance, Collège de France – CNRS, Paris.
  • Nicholls, M. ed. (2016): 30-Second Ancient Greece: The 50 Most Important Achievements of a Timeless Civilization, Each Explained in Half a Minute. Ivy Press, London.

In addition to this, Dr Matthew Nicholls has also worked as a consultant for a delightful children’s book based on his best-selling 30-seconds Ancient Rome volume of 2014:

  • Holland, S. and Hill, A. (2016): Ancient Rome in 30 Seconds: 30 fascinating topics for time travellers, explained in half a minute. Ivy Press, London.

Here is a short little film that was produced on occasion of the book launch of ’30-Second Ancient Greece’:

Would you like to find out more about the impressive volume and range of our published research? Check out our institutional repository, CentAUR, following this link.

Classics Research Seminars – Autumn Term 2016

We are delighted to announce our research seminars and special lectures for Autumn Term 2016:

28 September
Francesca Silvestrelli (Salento), “Pottery workshops in Greek colonies of the Ionian coast: production and consumption at Metaponto and Herakleia”

5 October
Evert Van Emde Boas (Oxford), “Realism in Euripidean characterization: a cognitive approach”

12 October
Luigi Prada (Oxford) “Two Languages, Four Scripts (and Counting): Dealing with Linguistic Diversity in Graeco-Roman Egypt”

19 October
Barbara Borg (Exeter), “Reviving tradition in Hadrianic Rome: From incineration to inhumation”

26 October
Andreas Gavrielatos (Edinburgh), “In search of the hidden truth in Persius’ Satires”

9 November
Sophia Piacentin (KCL) “Epigraphy in context: the case of multae in Roman and  Samnite Italy”

16 November
Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (Cardiff), “Sexual Violence and a Re-Reading of the Eurymedon Vase”

23 November
Peter Agocs (UCL) “Pindar’s Pythian 4 and Greek colonial memory”

25 November
Annual Percy N. Ure Lecture
Christopher Smith (BSR)
Title and venue tbc.

30 November
Nicoletta Momigliano (Bristol) “Aegeomania’ or Aegean Bronze Age Archaeology beyond archaeology modern obsessions with the Aegean Bronze Age Past in various cultural practices”

7 December
Fred Naiden (North Carolina), “The Self-Image of Alexander the Great”

Unless otherwise stated, all seminars will take place at 4pm in the Van Emden lecture theatre (HumSS).

Everyone welcome.

Interaction in Imperial Greek Literature Workshop

Brief

Postgraduate workshop on the theme of interaction in imperial Greek literature, to be held at the University of Reading on Friday September 16, 2016.

Abstract

When we think of imperial Greek literature, we tend to think of creative and innovative authors, like Plutarch, Lucian, and Aelius Aristides, whose works draw deeply and (self-)consciously from the existing literary tradition, but also frequently subvert and play with readers’ expectations.  Many of the works produced in Greek during the imperial period are difficult to categorise, at first glance seeming to participate in one genre, but upon closer examination engaged in a more intricate interplay of genres, styles, and allusions.  The theme of interaction is here interpreted broadly; we may think of interaction as encompassing processes of innovation, enrichment, influence, adaptation, or repurposing.  In imperial Greek literature, in particular, we may observe the interaction that occurs between genres, between fiction and non-fiction, prose and poetry, past and present, and between what is and is not considered ‘Greek’.

While recent scholarship has emphasised the great variety and intensity of interaction that characterises imperial literature, much work is required to move away from pursuing authors and their works in isolation, towards a more universal approach.  The aim of this workshop is, therefore, to foster dialogue between the different fields of imperial Greek literature (the novel, rhetoric, biography, historiography, etc.), in order to reach new and more nuanced conclusions.

Speakers will address wider issues concerning imperial authors’ engagement with earlier established genres and texts, from archaic and classical lyric poetry to later Latin works.  They will consider how authors viewed their own work and its place in the literary tradition, and the ways in which readers interpreted the fusions and tensions these works embody.  Exploring these complex processes of (re-)invention and (re-)interpretation can open up new ways of understanding the literary polyphony of imperial culture.

One of the anticipated outcomes of the workshop is the creation of an imperial Greek literature network for those working in the area, to be organised in the final group discussion of the day.

The titles of the papers are included in the programme outlined below.

The organisers gratefully acknowledge the support of the Department of Classics at the University of Reading, the Graduate School at the University of Reading, the Jowett Copyright Trust, and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies

Programme

9:30 – 9:45: Registration
9:45 – 10:00: Introduction (Caitlin Prouatt, Claire Jackson)

10:00 – 11:10, Session 1

(chair: Caitlin Prouatt)

Chrysanthos Chrysanthou (Heidelberg): ‘Generic hybridity in the prologues to Plutarch’s Lives’
Francesca Modini (King’s College London): ‘Playing with Terpander & Co.: lyric interactions in imperial rhetoric’

11:10 – 11:30: Tea break

11:30 – 12:40, Session 2
(chair: Chris Mallan)
Nick Wilshere (Nottingham): ‘Homer among the Celts: Lucian’s Hercules’
Nicolò d’Alconzo (Exeter): ‘Mapping Greek novels with Lucian’

12:40 – 1:30: Lunch

1:30 – 2:40, Session 3
(chair: Claire Jackson)
Chris Mallan (Oxford): ‘Further thoughts on the Parthica of Pseudo-Appian’
Dan Jolowicz (Cambridge): ‘Greek imperial authors reading Latin literature for pleasure’

2:40 – 3:00: Tea break

3:00 – 4:30, Session 4
Ian Rutherford (Reading): keynote address
Group discussion

5:00: End of conference

Revolutions and Classics:

We are delighted to publish the programme of the previously announced one-day workshop ‘Revolutions and Classics’, co-organised by our very own Prof. Barbara Goff and Dr Rosa Andújar (UCL):

Friday 22 July 2016

IAS Common Ground, University College London

1000-1010 coffee and welcome

Chair: Rosa Andújar, UCL

1010-1040 Rachel Foxley , University of Reading, Innovation and revolution in seventeenth-century England

1040-1110 Nicholas Cole, Pembroke College Oxford, The Classics and the American Revolution — two centuries of controversy

1110-1120 break

Chair: Phiroze Vasunia, UCL

1120-1150 Sanja Perovic and Rosa Mucignat, King’s College London, The Legend of Pythagoras:  Narrating Revolutionary Failure in Sylvain Maréchal and Vincenzo Cuoco

1150-1220 Sebastian Robins, Independent, Ancient Greek Texts in the Age of Revolution: John Gillies Orations of Lysias and Isocrates 1778 and Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics 1797

1220-1315 lunch

1315-1400 early career teaching roundtable:

Chair: Katherine Harloe, University of Reading

Emma Cole, University of Bristol, Classical Reception Pedagogy in Liberal Arts Education

Luke Richardson, University College London, Teaching the Classical Reception “Revolution”. 

Carol Atack, University of Warwick, Precarity and protest: performing politics in Aristophanes’ Lysistrata

1400-1430 discussion

1430-1500 teaching presentations:

Chair: Barbara Goff, University of Reading

Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, Black Athena in the classical classroom

Joanna Paul, Open University, tbc

1500-1545 discussion, followed by tea

Chair: John Bloxham, Nottingham and OU

1545-1615 Rosa Andújar, University College London, Plato and Pater’s Greeks in the Mexican Revolution

1615-1645 Benjamin Gray, University of Edinburgh, Studying the modern German Left as Ancient History: from Jean Jaurès to Alexander Kluge

1645-1715 Michael Simpson, Goldsmiths, University of London, Of Minotaurs and Macroeconomics: Greek Myth and Common Currency 

1715-1800 reception

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/classics/events/revolutionsandclassics

 

Workshop: The Economic Importance of Coastal Lagoons

Prof. Annalisa Marzano reflects on our most recent workshop:

On Monday May 23rd the Centre for Economic History, in collaboration with Reading Classics, ran a successful workshop entitled ‘The economic importance of coastal lagoons in antiquity and the Middle Ages’.

This workshop idea has developed from Professor Annalisa Marzano’s recent research, which has highlighted how coastal lagoonal environments and the natural resources they offered (eg, fisheries), have been neglected in research work on the ancient economy. This event brought together ancient and medieval historians and archaeologists not only to learn about recent research in these different disciplines and current approaches being used, but also to use information from the medieval period, when documentary data is more abundant and complete than for classical antiquity, as a proxy in studying the exploitation of lagoons in antiquity.

Two guest speakers came to Reading from Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, an institution with which the Classics Department has good research and teaching links, most notably with the collaborative masters’ course in ‘Ancient Maritime Trade and Navigation’. Professor Marzano opened the workshop with a paper on ‘Costal lagoons and large-scale fishing in the Roman Mediterranean: an underestimated resource’, arguing for the integration in the same fish-salting cycle of marine and lagoonal fisheries.

Dr Alessandro Rucco spoke on ‘Fisheries in the early medieval landscape of Comacchio (Ferrara, Italy)’, presenting some interesting data on the scale of human interaction in this very unique natural environment. Dr Cecilia Moine concluded the afternoon with a presentation on ‘Water exploitation in a changing lagoon: The Venetian area in the late Middle Ages’, which focused on fascinating archival material from various nunneries and monasteries. Among other things, we learnt that in the case of rent paid in kind to these religious institutions, the two most common items listed in the documents were wine and fish; this surely reveals something about life and diet in these religious houses!

It was a very fruitful afternoon, and the speakers and attendees enjoyed chatting over a cup of tea or coffee (after some struggle with an uncooperative pump in the coffee thermos!)