New Monographs by Reading Classicists

Reading’s Department of Classics is delighted to welcome the two most recent additions to our Faculty bookshelf by Prof. Annalisa Marzano and Dr Katherine Harloe:

Harvesting the SeaProf. Annalisa Marzano published her monograph ‘Harvesting the Sea. The Exploitation of Marine Resources in the Roman Mediterranean‘. Harvesting the Sea provides the first systematic treatment of the exploitation of various marine resources, such as large-scale fishing, fish salting, salt and purple-dye production, and oyster and fish-farming, in the Roman world and its role within the ancient economy.

Bringing together literary, epigraphic, and legal sources, with a wealth of archaeological data collected in recent years, Marzano shows that these marine resources were an important feature of the Roman economy and, in scope and market-oriented production, paralleled phenomena taking place in the Roman agricultural economy on land. The book also examines the importance of technological innovations, the organization of labour, and the use of the existing legal framework in defence of economic interests against competitors for the same natural resource.

WinckelmannDr Katherine Harloe published her monograph ‘Winckelmann and the Invention of Antiquity. History and Aesthetics in the Age of Altertumswissenschaft‘. This volume provides a new perspective on the emergence of the modern study of antiquity, Altertumswissenschaft, in eighteenth-century Germany through an exploration of debates that arose over the work of the art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann between his death in 1768 and the end of the century.

Winckelmann’s eloquent articulation of the cultural and aesthetic value of studying the ancient Greeks, his adumbration of a new method for studying ancient artworks, and his provision of a model of cultural-historical development in terms of a succession of period styles, influenced both the public and intra-disciplinary self-image of classics long into the twentieth century. Yet this area of Winckelmann’s Nachleben has received relatively little attention compared with the proliferation of studies concerning his importance for late eighteenth-century German art and literature, for historians of sexuality, and his traditional status as a ‘founder figure’ within the academic disciplines of classical archaeology and the history of art. Harloe restores the figure of Winckelmann to classicists’ understanding of the history of their own discipline and uses debates between important figures, such as Christian Gottlob Heyne, Friedrich August Wolf, and Johann Gottfried Herder, to cast fresh light upon the emergence of the modern paradigm of classics as Altertumswissenschaft: the multi-disciplinary, comprehensive, and historicizing study of the ancient world.

Per ardua ad astra (Through hard work to the stars, that is…)


Prof. Peter Kruschwitz receives Gold Star Award from Kara Swift, RUSU VP Academic Affairs.

Prof. Peter Kruschwitz receives Gold Star Award from Kara Swift, RUSU VP Academic Affairs.

I was thrilled to win the coveted Gold Star Award 2012-3 – an award made by Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU), based on student nominations of lecturers that have made a significant difference to their studies at Reading. With only one such award per year per Faculty, this was a rather overwhelming experience, and I could not be more pleased that my work appears to have made a difference. Most of all, however, I was ever so delighted to learn what my students had highlighted in their comments: the strong academic culture of the Classics Department, and the support we all are always ready give to each and every individual student.

This gives me the opportunity briefly to reflect on one of my most recent administrative pleasures:

A couple of months ago, the department underwent Periodic Review. Periodic Review is a compulsory, regular quality assurance exercise for all departments at the University of Reading, and the remit of the panel is to endorse the continuation of all taught programmes in the department, provided that they were to be found of sufficient merit and quality. Moreover, the members of the panel, consisting of external subject specialists as well as colleagues from the University of Reading outside our subject area, are asked to identify both good practice and areas for improvement in our provision.

To be honest, Periodic Review is not everyone’s most favourite exercise, considering the amount of documentation and preparation that is required. The Department of Classics, however, took its usual constructive view: we talk about the development and improvement of our taught provision all the time anyway, so why not use this as an opportunity to reflect on this central part of our role somewhat more generally?

We have now received the panel’s report, and I am delighted to say that the report was nothing but glowing.

We were found to be an engaging, welcoming, and friendly community, where both staff and students convey an impression of enthusiasm, dedication, and pride in the department. The panel felt that our mechanisms for maintenance and enhancement of Teaching and Learning were exemplary, and they commend us on our collegiate academic community, in which the development of our students is seen as a cherished goal, based on our engagement in high quality research.

The panel was particularly impressed with our research culture, which includes staff-student collaborative research projects and student attendance at research seminars. This is also reflected in our strong culture of exploration and innovation in teaching, for example in our second- and third-year modules that allow our students to design their own research projects, that encourage enquiry-based learning, and allow for inclusive teaching and learning through a diverse, yet challenging range of assessments.

Finally, the panel noted a high level of student engagement in gathering feedback to enhance the quality of the Department’s academic provision, achieved through informal channels, such as a strong open-door culture and regular non-teaching contact between staff and students (if only these truly delightful aspects of our jobs could be reflected in the government-imposed datasets…), and through our more formal Staff-Student Liaison Committee.

Can we improve further? Yes, we can – and yes, we will. Based on the feedback of our review panel, our students’ constructive criticisms through all channels, formal and informal, we are currently looking into areas where we all feel we could do even better, and I hope we will be able to give an update on progress in these areas soon.

Peter Kruschwitz