Call for Papers for AMPRAW 2015

 Early Call for Papers
Fifth Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in the Reception of the Ancient World
14th-15th December 2015
University of Nottingham

Abstracts deadline: 31st August 2015

It is with great pleasure that we announce the fifth Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in the Reception of the Ancient World. AMPRAW 2015 will be a two-day conference aiming to provide both UK and international postgraduate students from all disciplines with the opportunity to present their research to the growing academic community focusing on classical reception.

This year’s conference will be held from Monday 14th to Tuesday 15th December 2015 at the University of Nottingham.

We will build on the successful trend of recent AMPRAWs, and this year the focus will be “Orthodoxy and Dissent”. This theme relates to many aspects of reception studies, and will further widen the scope of AMPRAW into the areas of material and visual culture, translation studies, and political thought.

We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers (with a subsequent 10 minute discussion). Proposals may consider, but are not limited to, the following questions:

  • • Has there been and is there still an orthodox view(s) of the ancient world?
    • How have dissenters challenged this picture?
    • Is dissent against orthodoxy essential for art?
    • Do issues of orthodoxy and dissent help to highlight or shroud issues of contemporary discourse?
    • In what ways have the ancient world and its artefacts been used to reinforce or challenge authority?
    • Is there an ‘orthodox’ way of teaching Classics today?

In addition to this year’s panels, AMPRAW 2015 will feature a keynote lecture, and a wide-variety of practitioner-led workshops from visiting speakers. Confirmed details are to follow in due course.

Please send your title and a 200-300 word abstract (including your name, affiliation and level of study) to, by the 31st August 2015.

For up-to-date conference news and further details, please visit our website: and get involved on twitter @AMPRAW2015.

We look forward to receiving your abstracts!
The AMPRAW 2015 Organising Committee
John Bloxham, Harriet Lander, Annie Zourgou, Melanie Fitton-Hayward

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LGPT at the 2015 Classical Association

Classical Association conference 2015: theorizing reception

Thanks to Carol Atack for this informative update

Classical reception was a significant theme of the 2015 Classical Association conference, not surprisingly as the host department at Bristol has such strength in this area. Political thought and critical theories took their place alongside literature and popular culture, a parallel strand on the sensory turn, and a series of panels and workshops on Classics education and outreach.

The intersection between politics and the reception of the classical tradition was the focus of the Theorizing Reception panel, in which the LGPT was represented by John Bloxham (Nottingham/OU) and Carol Atack (Oxford). Janina Vesztergom (ELTE Budapest) and Rogier van der Wal (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), presenting together in dialogue form, completed the line-up, with ‘Translation as Reception that Makes Sense: Caesar through Hungarian eyes’. The political range and intellectual diversity of 20th-century responses to the ancient world was illustrated by the three papers; from the conservatism of US cultural critics such as William Bennett and Allan Bloom, to the radical anti-Platonism of French philosopher Jacques Rancière, to the historical fiction of Hungarian writer Sandor Márai, ancient concepts and thinkers provided ways to grapple with contemporary problems.

John Bloxham opened the session, with ‘The Classicizing of the American Mind: Plato versus Theory in the Culture Wars’, a dissection of appeals to ancient texts in the US ‘Culture Wars’ of the 1980s, and resistance to attempts to broaden the undergraduate curriculum beyond the established canon of ‘Great Books’. William Bennett, in his 1984 report on the state of humanities education, and Allan Bloom in his 1987 best-seller The Closing of the American Mind both saw the reading of Plato as a means of accessing universal and timeless truths, against the perceived threat of relativism arising from educational reforms and the introduction of contemporary texts. Bennett’s proposals glide seamlessly from ancient world to modern America, conflating the two, and one might worry that hurrying through the books themselves would result in superficial readings. But Bloom’s more sophisticated Plato attempts to offer something with which to oppose the nihilism and decadence of modern philosophy – even if he has to be read ironically to generate the required arguments.

Discussion of the paper further teased out nuances in Bloom’s thought and his position relative to others in the Straussian tradition (and session chair Ellen O’Gorman should be thanked for weaving together the papers and discussion as skilfully as if she were a Platonic statesman). The differing contexts of thinkers within this tradition should be considered – as Bloxham showed with Bloom, his experiences of student unrest at Cornell inspired his thought on education.

The second paper was Carol Atack’s ‘Rancière’s Lessons from Plato: reception as methodology in the history of political thought’. The abiding interest of French radical political theorists in Plato generated equally impassioned but quite different political arguments from those of the American conservatives. Atack used Jacques Rancière’s reading of Plato to explore the methodologies that might help in interpreting and understanding the complex thought of theorists whose use of ancient thinkers simultaneously embraces and opposes their thought and the authority of the classical tradition. The conflict between historicist and textual approaches features in the methodologies of both the study of political thought and of classical reception.

Jacques Rancière’s combative anti-philosophical engagement with Plato provides a counter-example to the American conservatives, and shows that the appeal of invoking ancient writers is not limited to conservative perspectives. For Rancière the canon of political theory (that Bloom sought to preserve) continues to repeat the same story of the exclusion of workers from political debate: it is difficult to disentangle Rancière’s direct engagement with Plato’s arguments and the context and motivation he provides for his work. By placing himself on the shores of Plato’s corrupting sea, Rancière evokes not just ancient psychogeography but also contemporary ideas of liminality.

Vesztergom and van der Wal used Sandor Márai’s historical novel, Something Happened in Rome, which tells the story of an unidentified tyrant from the perspective of the people, to explore the importance of translation and retelling in reception. Again, historical context was key to interpreting a writer and his work, as well as its complex reception history from original publication in Hungarian to rediscover and republication in Dutch translation. Márai’s context as a political activist and then exile from Hungary illuminates his choice of themes. The role of historical fiction in classical reception highlighted by the paper sparked a lively debate – does retelling a story from the ancient world generate a more powerful connection for the modern reader than a translation of an ancient text? Why is historical fiction valued more highly as a genre and a vehicle for political reflection and argument in some literary traditions than others?

Beyond this panel, the conference themes of reception and the sensory turn generated interesting interactions between ancient and modern. The plenary papers explored modern engagements with concepts from the ancient world. Miriam Leonard opened the conference with an exploration of the use of tragedy, and particularly the figure of Oedipus, by thinkers such as Nietzsche and Lacan. Could the Greek distinction between man, beast and god, as elaborated by Sophocles in the Oedipus at Colonus, contribute to contemporary debates on what it means to be post-human? In using ancient texts to explore new problems and answer new questions, both Miriam Leonard and fellow plenary presenter, Shane Butler with his concept of ‘deep Classics’, showed that classical reception offers a potent way to explore contemporary cultural and philosophical issues.

Carol Atack, St Hugh’s College, Oxford

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CA conference: Legacies of Greek Political Thought in America

CA conference: Legacies of Greek Political Thought in America


The Legacy of Greek Political Thought group recently organised a successful panel for the 2014 Classical Association Conference. The challenge was to provide a narrow enough focus that the four papers provided an integrated and coherent narrative, while still appealing to a varied audience of classicists. With that in mind, the panel was focused upon American receptions of Greek political thought, and its aims were to examine and challenge the links between ancient Greek political thought and its modern invocations in the United States.


The reverse of the Great Seal of the United States is a reminder of the Founding Fathers’ ambition to create ‘A New Order of the Ages,’ unlike any previous society. Yet correspondence between the Founders shows a keen awareness of and engagement with past societies. In ‘Is there space for a Greek influence on American Thought?’ Nicholas Cole (Oxford) considered the American revolutionary period and addressed this paradox head-on. Nicholas argued that Greek history and thought made important contributions to American thinking, and that these help to explain the development of American thought in the early republic. But historians need to move beyond the narrow debate on political borrowings towards an appreciation of the wider multiplicity of ways that early Americans engaged with Greek thought.


Vaulting forward to the twentieth century, Sara Monoson (Northwestern) explored contrasting attitudes to antiquity in ‘Classical sources and the promotion of literacy in radical critique: Diego Rivera’s Man at the Crossroads (1933) and Hugo Gellert’s Aesop Said So (1936).’ Her paper focused on the presence of classical imagery in 1930s expressions of radical critique by visual artists.   In his controversial mural for the Rockefeller Center in New York, Diego Rivera used the imagery of damaged yet formidable classical statuary to suggest the corrosiveness of weighty traditions and to question the value of harking back to antiquity. Though sharing his political viewpoint, Hugo Gellert challenged that view of antiquity. He produced books that combine text and illustrations to find other narratives in the sources (chiefly, the figure of Aesop as a view ‘from below’) that were, to him, able to inspire class consciousness and a sophisticated examination of problems like the greed and corruption of the high and mighty.



In the first of two papers looking at the conservative thinker Leo Strauss, Liz Sawyer (Oxford) presented ‘Leo Strauss, in context: Classical Literature as Political Philosophy in 1950s/1960s American Universities.’ She examined how Strauss’ use of classical literature, especially Aristotle, Plato and Thucydides, fitted within the broader context of how political philosophy and Western literature were taught in the 1950s and 1960s. By studying Strauss’ writings in the light of the educational methodologies of his time, Liz demonstrated how Strauss’s legacy as the ‘founding father’ of today’s neoconservative movement developed. In the final paper, ‘The original neoconservative? Leo Strauss’s version of Xenophon’s version of Socrates,’ I argued that Strauss’s interpretations of Xenophon have been overlooked by political commentators seeking to praise or malign the Straussian influence on American politics. Using Strauss’s commentary on Xenophon’s Oeconomicus as a case study, I argued that Xenophon, rather than Plato or Thucydides, is the classical key for unlocking Strauss’s political ideology.


The focus on Greek thought in America gave the panel coherence, whilst differences in the subject matter and methodological approaches of the speakers ensured variety. Each of the other papers gave me fresh insights into my own work, and the discussions which followed were almost as fruitful as the papers themselves (and gave no indication that any audience members might have over-indulged at the previous night’s gala dinner). Having spent the build-up to the conference worrying about my own paper, which passed in a flash, it is only in retrospect that the real benefits of attending a conference like this became apparent – the unexpected connections and the perceptive and creative conversations with fellow delegates made attending this CA conference an enriching experience.


John Bloxham (Nottingham)


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trivium seminar with Neville Morley and Andreas Stradis

A series of seminars taking place at the Institute of Classical Studies (Senate House room 246) every Tuesday afternoon at 4.30, showcasing interdisciplinary collaborations between Classics and other fields. All welcome!

Feb 4 – Neville Morley and Andreas Stradis. ‘Reception, history of ideas and political theory: the case of Thucydides.’

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Conference on Citizens Ancient and Modern

Associazione Culturale Rodopis in cooperation with the University of
Urbino (Italy) is glad to post the following CALL FOR PAPERS for an
international student and early-career researcher academic conference:




Urbino 10-11 April 2014

How was citizenship defined in the ancient world? What did citizens’
rights entail in the field of social and political life, and in the
broader areas of culture and ideology? What aspects of citizenship and
citizens’ status are still the subject of discussion in present-day Europe
and how have the parameters of discussion changed as compared to those in
the ancient world?

The conference is designed to explore questions about the concept of
citizenship and the status of citizens from archaic Greece to late
antiquity. It will offer both an investigation of case studies and a
discussion of political and philosophical reflections on citizenship, the
means of educating people about civic ideology and the cultural
implications of citizen/urban culture in the ancient world. At least one
paper in each session will be devoted to an exploration of aspects of
citizenship in contemporary debates and political discourse and will be
offered by invited speakers working in the field of law, politics, and

Possible questions include:

In what ways was civic education promoted in the ancient cities? How did
being a citizen affect individuals in politics, war, economy, religion and
cultural life? To what extent was the representation and self-perception
of citizens defined by the position of non-citizens? What were the
criteria for the admission in the citizen-body and in what circumstances
could one lose membership rights? How did these criteria change from those
of the Greek cities of the classical and Hellenistic period to those of
the Roman Empire?

Proposals of no more than 300 words for 20 minutes papers in Italian or
English are welcomed from all fields of Greek and Roman History. Anonymous
abstracts in pdf format (file name: first three words of the title; email
object: “Urbino graduate conference”) should be sent to by January 31 2014.

Travel expenses will not be covered, but accommodation will be provided by
the University of Urbino.

With best wishes,

Lucia Cecchet (Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz)

Anna Busetto (Università di Roma Tre) on behalf of Associazione Culturale

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Professor Lynette Mitchell, of the University of Exeter, recently gave a paper on ‘Reflections and Refractions: Democracy and  Tyranny from Antiquity to the Modern Era’ to the YFI-forum.

Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Reception of Thucydides events at Bristol

Sunday 10th November 2013

Might is Right? Ancient and Modern Debates (InsideArts)

Foyles, 6 Quakers Friars, Cabot Circus, 1pm.

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.” So claimed an aide of George W. Bush in 2004, but it’s an idea that dates back to 5th century BC Greece and the historian Thucydides – one of the most-quoted ancient writers in debates about contemporary affairs, including on such topics as the invasion of Iraq and post-9/11 US foreign policy. This public event, part of the annual InsideArts and Thinking Futures festivals of ideas, draws on the work of the Bristol Thucydides project over the last four years. There will be a staging of an adaptation of the Melian Dialogue, the famous passage in Thucydides’ work where he explores different approaches to justice and interest in inter-state relations, by members of StudioSpace, the student drama society; this will be followed by a discussion between scholars working on different aspects of the topic and plenty of opportunity for questions from the audience.

Attendance is free, but we do ask you to reserve a place in advance: go to If you have any queries, please contact Neville Morley (n.d.g.morley(at)

Monday 25th-Tuesday 26th November 2013
The Most Politic Historiographer: Thucydides in Modern Western Culture
Clifton Hill House, Bristol

Thucydides has been, at least since the nineteenth century, one of the most-cited and most influential classical thinkers. His work has inspired not only ancient historians and classicists, but historians of all periods, political theorists, international relations specialists, soldiers and military educators, and novelists, all of whom have found it a source of deep insight into the nature and experience of war and of how one should study this. This is the final research colloquium of the AHRC-funded project on Thucydides: reception, reinterpretation and influence, drawing together different themes in his modern reception with papers from a range of international experts and from members of the project team.

Geoffrey Hawthorn (Cambridge): Who does Thucydides please?

Aleka Lianeri (Thessaloniki): Time and Method: Thucydides’ contemporary history in nineteenth-century Britain

Christian Thauer (FU Berlin /U of Washington): Re-approaching Thucydides? An Intellectual History Perspective

Edith Foster (Ashland University): Narrating Battles: Thucydides and Ernst Jünger

Andreas Stradis (Bristol): Thucydides and Vietnam: A Vehicle for Ethical Professional Military Education

Seth Jaffe (Toronto): Reflections on the Straussian Thucydides

Neville Morley (Bristol): The Idea of Thucydides in Western Culture

Ben Earley (Bristol): The Spirit of Athens: Thucydides as a theorist of maritime empire

Liz Sawyer (Oxford): From contemporary relevance to eternal truth: Thucydides and the Great Books movement from the 1960s to today

Discussants: Christian Wendt (FU Berlin), Emily Greenwood (Yale), Katherine Harloe (Reading)

Attendance is free, but numbers are strictly limited, and places must be reserved in advance: please contact Neville Morley on n.d.g.morley(at) by 15th November.

Neville Morley
Professor of Ancient History, University of Bristol

Project Lead, Thucydides: reception, reinterpretation and influence

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment