Mastering the Masters: Congratulations to Curtis Hill

Author: Bunny Waring
Date: 16th March 2021.

Congratulations are due to the Classic Department’s current Masters student Curtis Hill whose recent book review assignment was of such a high standard, that the international academic journal Sehepunkte approached them for permission to publish their review in this month’s journal.

Both Curtis and supervisor Prof. Eleanor Dickey were delighted for Hill’s first publication – no mean feat during a Masters Degree – and you can read the review of Machado, C. 2019. Urban Space and Aristocratic Power in Late Antique Rome: AD 270-535, Oxford University Press here.

Sehepunkte is an interdisciplinary journal and ranges freely across historical eras. Emerging in 2001 from a co-operation funded by the German Research Foundation between the Historical Seminar of the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich and the Bavarian State Library, the journal is self-described as not only an ever-changing repertoire of reviews but also discussions of both monographs and edited collections in fields such as the history of medicine, law and art. 

Well done Curtis Hill! May it be the first of many successes!

Current Research & Recent Publications (2021.1)

Author: Bunny Waring
Date: 25th January 2021

Amidst adapting to e-learning, preparing lectures and caring for students, staff here at the Classics Department have been busy. A key element of academic life is never resting on your laurels. Each lecturer has their own research passions and are constantly writing blogs, papers, books and articles about what they have discovered and why it matters. Here are some of the latest releases from Prof. Annalisa Marzano and Dr. Arietta Papaconstantinou!

 

Marzano, Annalisa (Ed.) 2020. Villas, Peasant Agriculture, and the Roman Rural Economy: Panel 3.15, Heidelberg: Propylaeum.
This edited volume includes presentations and proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Classical Archaeology held in Cologne/Bonn 2018 and centres around the theme of Archaeology and Economy in the Ancient World. The publication is open access and free to read and download, which you can do here:
Villas, Peasant Agriculture, and the Roman Rural Economy

 

 

 

Arietta Papaconstantinou, 2020. A Monk Deploring the Imitation of the Hagarenes by the Christians. UCP. 

This sourcebook edited by Hurwitz, N., H., Sahner, C., Simonsohn, U. and Yarbrough, L. provides translations for Islamic studies of pre-modern age conversions. On pages 167-171 Dr Papaconstantinou provides a translation and introduction to the section regarding the Apocalypse of Samuel of Qalamūn.

Have a look inside: Conversion to Islam in the Pre-Modern Age.

 

 

 

 

 

Annalisa Marzano, 2021 The Casa della Regina Carolina (CRC) Project, Pompeii: Preliminary Report on 2018 and 2019 Field Seasons. Fasti Online.

In this open-access journal by Fasti Online’s Fold & R-Documents and Research Italy series, Prof. Marzano discusses the finds and interpretations of field work in Pompeii, alongside co-authors: Caitlín Barrett, Kathryn Gleason and Dafna Langguto (palynology). Free to access and download here: The Casa della Regina.

 

Arietta Papaconstantinou, 2020. The sound of a thousand tongues: visitors to Constantinople from the eastern provinces in the sixth century. YILLIK

On pages 179-183 of the second Annual of Istanbul Studies, Dr Papaconstantinou addresses sensory dimensions of Byzantine rituals. This journal article is free to read and download and you can do so here: The Sound of a Thousand Tongues.

 

Arietta Papaconstantinou, 2020. No mere scholarly pursuit: Fergus Millar and the Late Roman East. Ancient West and East.

On pages 239-246 of the Ancient West and East journal’s 19th volume, Dr Papaconstantinou recalls and critiques the late scholar Fergus Millar’s infatuation with the late Roman world. See what they have to say here: No Mere Scholarly Pursuit.

 

Recent Research on Sparta

By Dr James Lloyd-Jones, 23rd November 2020.

The last two weeks have been something of a Sparta bonanza, and I’m not just talking about Ted Cruz’s tweet of a photoshopped Gonzalez flag with a roast turkey above the words ‘come and take it’. Those words, spuriously attributed to King Leonidas of Sparta at the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BCE, have a long and troubled history.

This is just one of the many ways that the legacy of the battle of Thermopylae manifests today. Last Saturday (21st November) was an occasion to discuss the reception of the battle of Thermopylae in this, the (nearly) 2500th anniversary of the battle. I’d decided earlier on in the year that it would be good to hold an event in the UK to explore the legacy of Thermopylae and mark the anniversary, so got in touch with the Hellenic Society to see if they would be interested in hosting it. The “Thermopylae 2500” conference was also a chance to try something a bit different online by pre-circulating the speakers’ papers with the conference itself consisting of breakout groups and panel Q&As to explore the speaker’s papers and broader themes. We have a range of amazing papers and videos on the website (where they will remain for the foreseeable) ranging from contemporary responses to the battle in antiquity, to how Leonidas and Thermopylae were alluded to during Panamanian independence. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the range of lively conversations that were had on the day.

Alongside the Thermopylae 2500 conference, I’ve been able to participate in a few other events. As part of the SpartaLive! series, run by the University of Nottingham’s Centre for Spartan and Peloponnesian Studies and the City of Sparti, I was invited to share some of my research into Spartan music (the topic of my doctoral thesis). In my talk, I introduced listeners to some of the key sources and ideas that can be drawn upon to study the importance that music played in Spartan society over time. This ranges from fragments of surviving musical instruments, artistic depictions of musicians (on figured pottery, bronze statuettes, and other media), and of course textual and epigraphic evidence. You will be able to find my talk and others on the SpataLive! website here.

A scene of music on a Lakonian vase, c. 530 BCE. British Museum, 1854,0810.4.

In October, I was invited to present my research on the Spartan lead votives as part of the seminar “Metal Offerings in Greek Sanctuaries: votive gifts, rituals, disposal”, organised by Rita Sassu (Sapienza University of Rome) and Chiara Tarditi (Università Cattolica, Brescia). The lead votives are one of the most unique facets of material religion in Sparta. Over 100,000 were found at the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, and many thousands more at other sanctuaries. My talk focused on how archival and scientific analysis are contributing to our re-interpretation of the votives.

As we begin to wrap up this term, I look forward to sharing some of my research on Sparta with our undergraduates, as I convene a new module on Sparta for next term.

The Price of Purple – The Procurement of Dyes and Colourants in the Ancient World.

Archaeology Magazine has recently published an article on new archaeological evidence of a robust dye industry, that endured on the Mediterranean coast for millennia. University of Reading’s Prof. Annalisa Marzano of the Classics Department has provided expert analysis alongside an interdisciplinary board of specialists, on how archaeological finds can offer insights to the procurement, production and purchasing of dyes in the ancient world. Read The Price of Purple HERE.

 

Reading Classics in Omnibus

Temple of Apollo at CorinthThe research of two Reading colleagues is featured in this month’s Omnibus, the magazine of the Classical Association.  Now in its fortieth year and eightieth issue, the first edition of Omnibus came out in March 1981, and so it is also exactly the same age as one of its Reading contributors!

Professor Barbara Goff’s article on ‘Greek tragedy in a time of mass migration’ examines recent productions of Greek tragedy emerging from the Syrian civil war and the migrant crisis.  These include several different stagings of Sophocles’ Antigone, in which Syrian refugee participants had some very different ideas about who the characters of the play most resembled in their own lives and experiences.

In ‘Greeks, Egyptians and their languages in Ptolemaic Egypt,’ Professor Rachel Mairs looks at a court case from the second century BC involving two Egyptian women, named Taesis and Sachperis, who belonged to community of priests.  Taesis and Sachperis used all the resources at their disposal, including both the Egyptian and Greek languages, and two legal systems, to protect ownership of their property.

Classicising Crisis: a new publication

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Some important modern political movements call on us to ‘decolonise’ the discipline of Classics and reframe it with less of an emphasis on ‘dead white males’. This is a positive way forward, but we should not forget that the literature and culture of antiquity, in all its diversity, has repeatedly been used to to explore […]

Winckelmann and Curiosity in the 18th-century Gentleman’s Library (Christ Church, Oxford)

On the glorious sunny evening of 29th June 2018, the Very Rev’d Professor Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, welcomed Reading staff, interested scholars and other supporters to a champagne launch of Winckelmann and Curiosity in the 18th-century Gentleman’s Library, which explores the interaction and influence of Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1758), the pioneer historian, art historian and archaeologist, on the occasion of the double anniversaries of his birth and death. (https://www.winckelmann-gesellschaft.com/en/winckelmann_anniversaries_20172018).


The event also served as a finale to a very successful one-day workshop on Ideals and Nations: New perspectives on the European reception of Winckelmann’s aesthetics, organised by Dr Fiona Gatty and Lucy Russell, under the auspices of the Department of Modern Languages, Oxford University. (This was the last of our triplet of workshops on the theme Under the Greek Sky: Taste and the Reception of Classical art from Winckelmann to the present, of which Spreading good taste: Winckelmann and the objects of disseminationin Reading on 15 September 2017—was the second). On this auspicious occasion Professor Alex Potts from University of Michigan, formerly Professor of the History of Art & Architecture at University, served as one of the workshops’ keynote speakers and proposed a toast to Winckelmann.

This exhibition is a collaboration between UoR Classics’ Ure Museum and Christ Church, co-curated by Reading’s Dr Katherine Harloe and Prof Amy Smith (Curator of the Ure Museum) and Christ Church’s Cristina Neagu (Keeper of Collections). The exhibition of vases, coins, gems (and casts thereof) and even a piece of painted Pompeian plaster kindly lent by the Reading Museum Service, is displayed in Christ Church’s recently restored upper library, which IS in fact the very embodiment of the collecting curiosity that Winckelmann influenced with his enthusiasm for the study of artefacts alongside texts. The library, completed in 1772, boasts large Venetian windows at either end, fittings that date mostly from the 1750s and plasterwork replicating some of the musical instruments once contained in the library.  

The exhibition is accompanied by a 134-page book, edited by Drs Harloe & Neagu & Prof Smith, with essays and a handlist of the objects on display, available from either Christ Church or the University of Reading for £10. We are grateful to the Friends of the University of Reading for funds in support of this publication.

The Ure Museum staff have planned a series of outreach activities in connection with the exhibition, starting with an activity for children and their carers: The Grand Tour: How Classical art went viral in England at Christ Church on Mondays—30th July, 6th and 13th August, from 11am to 1230 pm, in Christ Church Library (OX1 4EJ). Please contact ure.education@reading.ac.uk if you are interested in participating. Details of this and other related activities can be found on the ‘Winckelmania’ research blog—https://research.reading.ac.uk/winckelmania/.

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.

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.

Reading Classics in the News

The past few months have been exciting ones for the Classics department owing to a blitz of media attention covering the publication of Professor Eleanor Dickey’s book Learning Latin the Ancient Way as well as the annual Reading Ancient Schoolroom.

It started in February with an article in the Guardian and lasted until April, when the CBC Radio Canada broadcast a half-hour interview with Professor Dickey; along the way we featured on national TV and radio as well as the Times, the Telegraph, and numerous European publications. The final tally was (as far as we know) 3 printed newspaper pieces, 11 online newspaper pieces in 6 languages, 2 national TV broadcasts, 2 BBC South TV broadcasts, and 6 radio broadcasts (4 in UK, 1 in US, 1 in Canada).

Here is the full list:

Wednesday 10th February

Thursday 11th February

Friday 12th Feburary

Saturday 13th February

Sunday 14th February

  •  BBC 1 TV, 2:24 am

Wednesday 17th February

Saturday 20 February

  •  Announcement of Naples ‘Presentazione libro’ sent out on Notiziario Italiano di Antichistica

 Monday 22nd February

Thursday 25th February

Tuesday 1st March

  •  ‘Presentazione libro’ in Naples (public event in which book was discussed by a pair of Naples Classicists; in Italian)

Monday 7th March

Friday 1st April

For more information on the Reading Ancient Schoolroom, see http://www.readingancientschoolroom.com.