Autumn 2013 Quid Novi? - Royal Holloway, University of London 2017. 1. 18.¢ Quid Novi?...
Embed Size (px)
Transcript of Autumn 2013 Quid Novi? - Royal Holloway, University of London 2017. 1. 18.¢ Quid Novi?...
Quid Novi? Issue 23 Welcome to the annual newsletter of the Department of Classics at Royal Holloway, University of London
It’s perhaps strange that a newsletter from the Department of Classics should be called Quid Novi?, that we should speak of ‘news’ when our materials are so old. Has anything changed in classical antiquity in the last couple of millennia (to choose some nice round numbers…)? In fact, I would submit that the answer, in the deepest sense, is a roaring ‘yes!’
Let me first note, very briefly, that the world around us is changing. Economic and political climates are different. Tuition fees have risen very sharply. It may be difficult to put a price on Knowledge (with a capital letter), but we are now investing (a financial metaphor) a good deal of thought in adapting almost every practical aspect of our departmental life to ensure the best possible experience and the best preparation for our students in their future careers.
But let me move on to the substance of our scholarly discipline – classical antiquity. The ancient world may be ‘ancient’, but new materials, artefacts, archaeological sites and texts are constantly being unearthed, discovered, linked… And, perhaps even more importantly, the very way in which we look at our world, and thus also at our pasts, is changing. Our understanding of gender, for example, is today radically different from what it was only a few decades ago. When the first woman was appointed in the 1960s to an official Fellowship in one of the Oxford colleges, the porters, not knowing what to say, addressed her as ‘Sir’… She was quick to set them right; they have not looked back since, and neither have we! Our
readings of Greek tragedy, Roman oratory, history, lyric poetry, philosophy and everything else have changed irrevocably in the process.
Likewise, only a few decades ago Classics was regarded as deeply Eurocentric discipline, indeed one that excluded and marginalized other traditions and cultures, colours and political aspirations in the former colonies and elsewhere. Then, together with many other strands of change around the world, we in Classics realized that change was necessary, productive, smart, and indeed pleasurable and rewarding. Along came many new books, for example one, controversial, but influential and invigorating, called Black Athena; we began to study the wider political, cultural and social resonance of our materials and disciplines; we have changed and continue to change and to grow, all the while keeping an eye, of course, on our sources and on our points of departure. Some of these moves are better known under the heading of ‘Reception of the Classics’. But in truth, ‘reception’ is everywhere and it is everything. It means, not simply looking at the later histories of ancient history, philosophy, literature, art and archaeology. It is, more fundamentally,
an acknowledgement (under the philosophical heading of ‘phenomenology’ and ‘hermeneutics’) that whatever the ancient world means, it means things to readers, audiences, viewers and interpreters today, readers and viewers like us; it means that we, as interpreters, inevitably read some of our own current values into our pasts. We can’t forget who we are, and, indeed, why should we!? If this is true, then we can, paradoxically, but productively and with ease, speak of ‘the influence of the present on the past’; and if that’s true then we do indeed have a lot of new things in store for us in the study of antiquity.
Quid Novi, then? Lots of stuff... Just watch this space!
Welcome from Head of Department
This year the department launched a new Research Masters programme, building on its strengths in research and undergraduate teaching in the field of Rhetoric, ancient and modern. Guy Doza, one of its first graduates, writes “The MRes in Rhetoric has been a wonderful experience. The degree is academically challenging and offers students wide exposure to professional industries.
The Centre of Oratory and Rhetoric (COR) organises numerous conferences, which are brilliant for networking both within and outside the academic sphere. I found myself attending the UK Speechwriters’ Guild’s International Conference in London which was a marvellous experience. I met the speechwriters for Presidents and Prime Ministers as well as many other impressive individuals, (most of whom I
am still in contact with). The MRes has opened many doors for the future, and I am very grateful to the department.”
A two-day conference on Emotion and Persuasion in Classical Antiquity was organised by research fellow Ed Sanders and PhD student Matthew Johncock under the auspices of the Centre for Oratory and Rhetoric (COR), a sub-group of the Classics department. Guest speakers came from UK, European and North American universities, and included Professors Christopher Carey from University College London, who spoke on ‘bashing the establishment’ in Attic political (deliberative and forensic) oratory and Old Comedy; Angelos Chaniotis of the Institute for Advanced Study, who spoke on the display of ‘emotional community’ in inscriptions; Eleanor Dickey of University of Exeter, who spoke on emotional formulae in imperatives and requests in both Classical literary and post-Classical papyrological
Greek texts; and Catherine Steel of University of Glasgow, who spoke on theory and practice in Roman Republican (primarily political forensic) oratory.
The conference ranged widely from the Classical Greek period, in which the connection between emotion arousal and persuasion was first theorised, through to the Roman Empire. Papers covered both Greek and Roman literary genres as diverse as oratory, historiography, Old and (Roman) New Comedy, philosophical and technical treatises, letters, and mythological and erotic poetry, as well as non-literary material such as civic inscriptions, curses and letters on papyri.
Matthew comments on the experience of organising an international conference:
“It was an exciting and challenging experience to co-organise the Emotion and Persuasion colloquium with Ed Sanders. I gained invaluable experience in the planning and delivery of a two-day rigorous academic colloquium – especially in sifting through abstracts, constructing a programme, taking registrations and chairing a panel, which were all new to me. Of course, the hard work hasn’t stopped here: we’re now kicking off the process of producing a colloquium volume, which is set to provide its own administrative challenges. It is a pleasure to be involved in a project that will bring such good publicity for the department, and specifically its Centre for Oratory and Rhetoric.”
‘Emotion and Persuasion’
Third year Classical Studies & Drama student Hannah Wiltshire (pictured first row, second from right) remembers the past year’s dramatic activities run by our vibrant Classical Society.
“If you ask someone to list the inventions of the Greeks, chances are their list will include theatre. Many conventions of Western theatre find their roots in ancient Greece, and the plays themselves are still widely performed and often adapted. For me, the appeal of ancient drama lies in the complex and compelling nature of the stories, and the practical challenges they present. I have worked on three productions for the Classical Society, and each one has presented unique challenges. For our production of Plautus’ Pseudolus, we spent time exploring how to make a modern audience laugh at 2000 year old jokes, ultimately focussing heavily on physical comedy. For Up Pompeii, a play by Miles Tredinnick in the style of a Carry On film, we had to work out how to recreate a
volcanic eruption in a small hall. Turns out the answer is judicious use of sound effects, flashing lights, and a willingness to allow the set to be destroyed on the last night for ultimate realism. The most difficult of the three was Tales from Ovid, an adaption of some of Ovid’s stories by Ted Hughes. Throughout the play, characters changed, from human to tree, to pond weed, to birds, and we spent most of our rehearsal time trying to make the metamorphosis seem natural, as if this were something that actually could happen in the real world. Putting
on productions with the Classical Society is challenging and sometimes stressful, but it’s also some of the most fun I’ve had at university. The skills I have learnt and expanded on, such as teamwork and time-management, are highly transferable, and the stories or rehearsals and performances become entertaining anecdotes to share at the pub. Theatre is entertaining, moving and sometimes heartbreaking, but to me, working on a production is, and always will be, fun.”
Classical Society Drama
Graduate profile Guy Doza, MRes Rhetoric
In March this year, Royal Holloway’s student- led Classical Society held another of its popular annual Classics Day celebrations. Many different events were held across campus to celebrate all things classical: from talks on Plato and poetry, Roman landscapes and Homeric ‘rap’ rhythms, to holding a mini gladiatorial combat in the Founder’s Building quad, complete with imitation Spartan and Roman costumes. Yes, they braved the cold in togas!
The Society plans to run another Classics Day on Wednesday 5 March 2014.
If you are interested in hearing more about the event please contact Dr Richard Hawley at richa