Classics success at the Doctoral Research Conference

On Wednesday 12th June, the University of Reading held the annual Doctoral Research Conference, an event which showcases the diversity of doctoral research undertaken at Reading.

Two of our own researchers, Adél Ternovacz and Daniel Bartle, presented posters on their research at the conference, and we would like to congratulate both of their contributions.

Adél Ternovacz discussing her poster.
Image curtesy of the Univeristy of Reading Doctoral and Researcher College.

Further congratulations go to Adél, whose poster won the prize.

The posters submitted by Adél and Daniel cover two very different, but equally interesting topics, which demonstrate the diversity of research within the Classics department.

Adél’s research poster presents a lunula pendant adorned with a Roman carnelian gem, discovered in a Sarmatian settlement in Tiszaföldvár, Hungary. Lunulae, crescent-shaped pendants worn by women and children, served as protective amulets in both Roman and Sarmatian cultures. In the Carpathian Basin, the Sarmatians—an Iranian people—were the most significant barbarian population during the Roman Imperial Period. This research explores how Sarmatian culture adapted and incorporated the Roman gem, deepening our understanding of the cultural exchange between the two civilizations.

Daniel Bartle discussing his poster.
Image curtesy of the Univeristy of Reading Doctoral and Researcher College.

Daniel’s poster focuses on the Indo-Iranian borderlands during the late fourth to third centuries BC and the diplomatic activity across it. This period would see the establishment of new empires on each side of the frontier, the Seleukids in Iran and the Maurya on the Ganges, representing a time of political transition and upheaval in the region. This research will examine three specific interactions between the two new states and their effects, the treaty of the Indus in 303 BC, the edicts of Ashoka, and the anabasis of Antiochus III, shedding light on the dynamic relationship of warfare, trade and gift exchange that existed across the frontier.

Both Daniel and Adél reflected positively on their experience of the event, commenting on the opportunity to interact with students and their work from across the university.

“The Doctoral Research Conference offers a fantastic opportunity to meet fellow students from various disciplines and learn about their projects. It was truly inspiring to see such a diverse range of innovative work.” – Adél Ternovacz

“The Doctoral Research Conference was an interesting experience involving both varied disciplines and means of presenting. Likewise, offering fresh perspectives from the other disciplines.” – Daniel Bartle

Once again, congratulations to Adél and Daniel, and to all the students who contributed to the event.

Adél Ternovacz

Upcoming Conference: Narrative and argument in Greco-Roman antiquity

On 4-5 July 2024, the University of Reading is hosting a two-day conference which seeks to re-investigate the relationship between narrative and argument in ancient literature (broadly defined).

Amidst strong trends in both rhetorical and narratological analysis, observations about the interplay between narratological structures and rhetorical methods of persuasion have tended to be at the margins of classical scholarship; but there are indications of a shift towards the foreground. For example, recent scholarship on Archaic and Classical Greek Lyric and Drama explores the discourse of ideology through the analysis of literary mechanisms and language shaping the political dimensions of the various genres. Another example of a recent shift is in the field of hagiography, where literary aspects are increasingly investigated in the context of the texts’ assumed ideology, resulting in some interesting insights into the unexpected complexities of the relationship between what the texts appear to want to the readers to do or believe, and the narrative strategies employed in these texts.

To explore and consolidate these trends, our conference brings together scholars interested in the interaction of political, literary, narratological, and cultural analysis of ancient literature to retrace the narrative mechanisms and discourses shaping the (im)balance between ideology, argument, and narration in ancient texts.

This conference will be held as a hybrid with both in-person and online attendees welcome. You can register your attendance here.

New Survey for Teachers in Ancient World Studies

Figure 1: Generative AI in the Ancient World Studies Classroom Teacher Survey –

Do you teach any topic related to the ancient world? Do you have thoughts about generative artificial intelligence? Researchers in the Department of Classics at the University of Reading want to hear from you!

Thanks to a University of Reading Research Collaboration and Impact Fund (RCIF) grant, Jackie Baines and Edward A. S. Ross are carrying out survey research into the impact of generative AI in wider ancient world studies classrooms. If you teach about any aspect of the ancient world (broadly conceived), please take 10 minutes to complete the survey here (Figure 1).

Figure 2: iGAIAS: Investigating Generative Artificial Intelligence in Ancient World Studies.

This research is part of Jackie and Edward’s wider project iGAIAS: Investigating Generative Artificial Intelligence in Ancient World Studies (Figure 2). Their work explores ethical and effective applications for generative AI in ancient world studies to make them more accessible for classicists and the wider public. This includes an upcoming temporary exhibition in the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology on inherent biases about the ancient world in generative image AI. Research for this exhibit is supported by undergraduate students Shona Carter-Griffiths, Hannah Gage, and Jacinta Hunter.

Jackie and Edward have also recently published a new article on the first phase of their generative AI research in the Journal of Classics Teaching. This article discusses the generative AI ethics training sessions for ancient language students and teachers over the Autumn 2023 term.