Reading’s Latin Inscriptions: New Book by Prof. Peter Kruschwitz

We are delighted to announce the publication of a new book by Prof. Peter Kruschwitz with Reading’s very own Two Rivers Press:

WotWThe book contains an anthology of 48 Latin inscriptions that are on display in Berkshire’s county town of Reading (as well as an extra four that have disappeared some time ago!) – covering some 1,800 years of Latin in use as a language of authority, of the church, of business, of learning, and – of course – as a language to honour the dead.

The book, showcasing the very finest examples of a body of some 200 inscribed Latin texts altogether from the Reading area, is the result of several years of fieldwork (about which Prof. Kruschwitz has occasionally blogged on his blog ‘The Petrified Muse’) – and if you wish to follow his walking routes, there is even a handy map that shows you the location of the various pieces that are covered in the book on Google Maps!

The book, beautifully designed and illustrated, is available from the publisher, Inpress Books, Waterstones, and – soon –  Amazon.

For anyone in and around Reading: Prof. Kruschwitz will be signing copies of his book at Reading’s branch of Waterstones next Saturday (12 September, 3-4pm) as part of Reading’s activities during the 2015 Heritage Open Days (further information can be found here).

The Classics and Colonial India

Prof. Phiroze Vasunia talks about his new monograph The Classics and Colonial India (OUP, 2013) on Classics Confidential:

Vesunia book cover

In the sixth interview recorded during this year’s Classical Association meeting, CC’s Anastasia Bakogianni talks to Professor Phiroze Vasunia of the University of Reading about his recently published book The Classics and Colonial India (OUP, May 2013).

He tells us about the impact of the Graeco-Roman classics in the age of empire (1750s-1945) and about the collision of cultures in India during this period. The very concept of the ‘classical’ was problematic in a culture with its own long-standing local traditions which included Sanskrit, Persian and Arab threads. These competed with the imported Graeco-Roman classics privileged by the British educational system which encouraged the colonisers to view themselves as ancient Romans. Neoclassical architecture, now largely destroyed, also radically transformed the landscape of the country. Indians such as the writer Henry Louis Vivian Derozio (1809-31) and Mahatma Gandhi, however, opened up their own dialogue with ancient Greek culture and its literature. Inspired by British Romantic Philhellenism, Derozio’s poetry forged a passionate connection with both ancient and modern Greece, while Gandi’s admiration of Socrates informed his own political thinking. This is not, therefore, a simple story of empire, but one of a dialogue of traditions.

Phiroze also tells us about his work as the general editor of the Ancients and Moderns series which is published in the UK by I.B. Tauris and in the USA by OUP. The series explores how classical antiquity continues to inform modern thinking, and examines the encounter between ancients and moderns on topics such as gender, slavery and politics. Seven books have appeared to date, and more are forthcoming.

Click on the image below or follow this link to watch the interview!

New Book by Professor Barbara Goff

9781780932057Last week saw the publication of my new book Your Secret Language: classics in the British colonies of West Africa (Bloomsbury 2013).  It contributes to the Departmental research cluster in ‘Reception and Classical Tradition’, and to the Faculty research theme of ‘Language, Text and Power’.  Above and beyond these aspects, I have found it a fascinating story to research and write.

The classical languages, literature and history formed part of the cultural equipment which European colonisers called upon in order to justify their imperial ambitions, but within the complex and assertive societies of nineteenth-century West Africa, classical education quickly became a weapon to use against colonisers.  The Church of England, which was very early on involved in educating colonised West Africans, put a premium on teaching the ancient languages, including Hebrew, in order to enable converts to read and preach the Bible themselves, and missionaries were delighted when Africans showed themselves highly adept at Latin and Greek.  They and the colonial establishment generally were less pleased when Africans used their classical training to qualify as lawyers, churchmen, teachers and journalists and then to agitate against colonialism.  Several African commentators noted the ancient relations between Africa and Greece, anticipating Martin Bernal’s analysis by many decades and complicating the notion of the classical tradition.

In the early twentieth century the colonial establishment often reacted by trying to withhold classical education from Africans and teach them agriculture instead. Africans usually saw this as an attempt to keep them subordinate, as ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’, and put up prolonged and articulate resistance.  The struggles over classical education continued, and eventually led to a situation in which Classics was the first degree offered in the post-war University of Ibadan.  Although the subject lost most of its prominent position after independence, when Africans seized the opportunity to study many other subjects that colonialism had not imported, there are still departments of Classics in Nigeria, Ghana, and Sierra Leone, as well as in several other African states.  We are planning to welcome one of the lecturers from Nigeria as a visiting researcher, who will be in Reading in 2014.

Researching this book, I have felt privileged to learn more about the history of my discipline and to see what it has meant within the making both of the colonial and the postcolonial eras.  The history has also deepened my understanding of the West African adaptations of Greek tragedy about which I wrote in the co-authored Crossroads in the Black Aegean: Oedipus, Antigone and dramas of the African diaspora (Oxford 2007). In addition, I have felt proud to be part of a Department where ‘classics’ signifies both the ancient world and its varied manifestations in the modern.

Barbara Goff

New Monograph by Prof. Barbara Goff and Dr Michael Simpson

Goff, Simpson, OlympicsThinking the Olympics: the classical tradition and the modern Games (London: Bloomsbury/Bristol Classical Press, 2011) is the first book to focus on the theme of tradition as an integral feature of the ancient and modern Olympic Games. Just as ancient athletes and spectators were conscious of Olympic traditions of poetic praise, sporting achievement, and catastrophic shortcoming, so the revived Games have been consistently cast as a legacy of ancient Greece.

The essays here examine how this supposed inheritance has been engineered, celebrated, exploited, or challenged. Deriving from a range of disciplines including cultural history, classics, comparative literature, and art history, the essays address aspects of the Games as varied as oratory, praise poetry, ideas of victory and defeat, the athletic body, neoclassical painting and architecture, and contemporary advertising. The Athens Games in 2004 were widely represented as a return to ancient, and modern, origins; the Beijing Games in 2008, meanwhile, saluted a radically different ancient civilisation. What is the Olympic future for ancient Greece?

Barbara Goff and Michael Simpson have collaborated on several ground-breaking works on classical reception, including most prominently Crossroads in the Black Aegean: Oedipus, Antigone and dramas of the African diaspora (Oxford: OUP, 2007) and most recently ‘Voice from the Black Box: Sylvain Bemba’s Black Wedding Candles for Blessed Antigone’, in Helene Foley and Erin Mee ed., Antigone on the Contemporary World Stage (Oxford: OUP, 2011). They are currently working on a study of classics in the British Labour movement.

New Monograph by Dr Emma Aston

MixanthropoiWe are delighted to see the publication of Dr Emma Aston’s monograph ‘Mixanthrôpoi’. Emma’s book examines an under-explored aspect of Greek religion: gods and goddesses depicted in half-human, half-animal form.

Many of the beings discussed – Cheiron, Pan, Acheloos, the Sirens and others – will be familiar from the narratives of Greek mythology, in which fabulous anatomies abound. However, they have never previously been studied together from a religious perspective, as recipients of cult and as members of the ancient pantheon. This book is the first major treatment of the use of part-animal – mixanthropic – form in the representation and visual imagination of Greek gods and goddesses, and of its significance with regard to divine character and function. What did it mean to depict deities in a form so strongly associated in the ancient imagination with monstrous adversaries? How did iconography, myth and ritual interact in particular sites of worship?

Drawing together literary and visual material, this study establishes the themes dominant in the worship of divine mixanthropes, and argues that, so far from being insignificant curiosities, they make possible a greater understanding of the fabric of ancient religious practice, in particular the tense and challenging relationship between divinity and visual representation.

New Monograph by Dr Amy Smith

Polis and PersonificationWe are pleased to announce the publication of Dr Amy Smith’s monograph, Polis & Personification in Classical Athenian Art, in Brill’s Monumental Graeca et Romana series: http://www.brill.nl/polis-and-personification-classical-athenian-art.

In this book, Dr Smith assesses the development and expansion of the use of personifications in the visual arts of Athens during her golden age (480-323 BCE). Smith’s focus on personifications of political relevance, which one finds decorating objects that served either in private roles (e.g. decorated vases) or public roles (e.g. cult statues and document stelai), reveals that these personifications represented aspects of the state of Athens – its people, government, and events – as well as the virtues (e.g. Nemesis, Peitho or Persuasion, and Eirene or Peace) that underpinned it. Athenians used the same figural language to represent foreign places and their peoples in their arts.

This is the only comprehensive study of visual personifications as a manifestation of intellectual and political concerns in Athens in the Classical period.