CONF: Cinema and Antiquity: 2000-2011

Seen on the Classicists list:

We are pleased to announce that registration is now open for:

Cinema and Antiquity: 2000-2011
The 1st J.P. Postgate Colloquium, University of Liverpool
12-14 July 2011

The resurgence of cinema’s interest in antiquity that was triggered by the release of Gladiator in 2000 shows no signs of abating. In 2010-11, many more ancient world films have been appearing on our screens (Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief; Clash of the Titans; Agora; Centurion; The Eagle; not to mention the TV series Spartacus: Blood and Sand). The public appetite for films that deal with ancient history and mythology apparently remains strong, and ‘classics and film’ courses have established themselves in universities worldwide, leading the way in the increasing prominence of reception studies within classics and ancient history. The time is ripe for reflection on these developments. This major international conference seeks to explore the directions that have been taken in a decade of moviemaking and scholarship, and to advance the field by concentrating on issues too often overlooked.

All registration and payment details are available online at The deadline for registration is 30 June 2011.

Please contact the conference organisers, Joanna Paul (Joanna.Paul TA or Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (L.Llewellyn-Jones TA for further information.

Conference Programme

TUESDAY 12 JULY Registration from 11

1.00 Welcome

1.15-2.45 Panel A: Screening Ancient Violence
1. Hunter Gardner (University of South Carolina), ‘“Are You Not Entertained?”: Screening Ancient Violence in the New Millennium’
2. Juliette Harrisson (University of Birmingham/Open University), ‘Using ultra-violence to mark the ancient world as Self or Other’
3. Amanda Potter (Open University), ‘Blood and Boobies: Viewer reactions to Spartacus: Blood and Sand’

2.45-3.05 Break

3.10-4.40 Panel B: Documenting Antiquity
1. Fiona Hobden (University of Liverpool), ‘Making history: authority and authenticity in ancient world documentary’
2. Lisa Maurice (Bar Ilan University), ‘Sine ira et studio in the 21st century: ancient history and the modern documentary’
3. Salvador Bartera (University of Tennessee) and Claire Stocks (University of Cambridge), ‘HBO’s Rome and its Audience Reception in America, England and Italy’
4.45-5.45 Keynote: Pantelis Michelakis (University of Bristol) and Maria Wyke (University College London), ‘Antiquity in Silent Cinema’


9.30-11.00 Panel C: The Aesthetics of Antiquity
1. Robert Burgoyne (University of St Andrews), ‘Alexander and the Phantasmagoria of History’
2. Michael Williams (University of Southampton), ‘‘Remember Me’: Nostalgia and Digital Patination in the Contemporary Classical Epic’
3. Joanna Paul (University of Liverpool), ‘The Vanished Library? The End of the Classical World in Alejandro Amenabar’s Agora’

11.00-11.20 Break

11.20-12.50 Panel D: Audience Receptions
1. Corinne Pache (Trinity University), ‘Don’t Mess with Myth – Percy Jackson’s “Epic Fail”’
2. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (University of Edinburgh), ‘Trouble in the Tehran Multiplex: 300 and its Iranian Critics’
3. Clare Foster (University of Cambridge), ‘Constructed Pasts: Ancient History Films in Theory and in Practice’

12.50-2.00 Lunch

2.00-3.30 Panel E: Changing Contexts: Animation, Games, Museums
1. Sarah Miles (University of Durham), ‘‘Jack and the Spartans’: Samurai Jack meets Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s 300’’
2. Mark Kirby-Hirst (University of South Africa) and Beschara Karam (University of South Africa), ‘“Where to from here?”: The Transformation of Classics from Film to Video Game’
3. Debbie Challis (Petrie Museum) and John Johnston (University College London), ‘The Case of the Petrie Museum: Resurrecting Hammer’s Mummies in the Twenty-first Century’

3.30-3.50 Break

3.50-4.50 Keynote: Professor Martin Winkler (George Mason University), ‘Fascinating Ur-Fascism: The Case of 300’

5.30-7.00 Wine reception (venue tbc)


9.00-11.00 Panel F: National contexts
1. Erato Basea (University of Oxford), ‘“I am (not) the Acropolis”: Filmmaking, national culture and the anxiety of heritage’
2. Katie Billotte (Royal Holloway, University of London), ‘Asi es la vida: Medea as a “Wise Latina”’
3. Ewa Skwara (Adam Mickiewicz University), ‘“Where are you going, antiquity?” – the Polish version of Quo Vadis’
4. Martin Lindner (University of Göttingen), ‘Germania Nova – Moving Pictures and the Reinvention of Ancient Germany’

11.00-11.20 Break

11.20-12.50 Panel G: Icons of Antiquity
1. Daniel O’Brien (University of Southampton), ‘White Supremacy? Difference as Degeneracy in 300’
2. Penelope Goodman (University of Leeds), ‘“I am master of nothing”: Augustus in television drama in the early 21st century’
3. Trevor Fear (Open University), ‘Cleopatra in the New Millennium: the changing dynamics of a historical icon’

12.50-1.40 Lunch

1.40-3.40 Panel H: Screening Late Antiquity
1. Ingo Stelte (Mainz University), ‘From the Front Line to the Home Front – Mira’s Development from a Warrior to a Mother in Doug Lefler’s The Last Legion’
2. Tony Keen (Open University), ‘On second thought, let’s not go to Camelot: situating the ‘historical Arthur’ through casting in King Arthur and The Last Legion’
3. Mary McHugh (Gustavus Adolphus College), ‘Pre-Cinema in Antiquity: Forgetting and Remembering a Hero(ine) of Alexandria’
4. Nicholas Kalospyros (University of Athens), ‘Vulgar Entertainment vs Austere Scholarship: The Case of Amenábar’s Agora as a Future Tension for Cinematic Text Adaptation of Cultural Readings’

3.40-4.00 Break

4.00-5.00 Keynote: Monica Cyrino (University of New Mexico), ‘I Was Colin Farrell’s Latin Teacher’

2 thoughts on “CONF: Cinema and Antiquity: 2000-2011

  1. To me I find that the cinema’s focus on the Classics is very myopic and parochial. It is always Imperial Rome and the Barbarians in the North.

    There are a ton of things they could in the context of historical drama in the realm of Classics, for example: how about a life and death of Socrates, a drama about Horatius Cocles or another legendary early Roman figure, or Crassus’ defeat, perhaps a rendition of Antigone. Or a hundred other things besides the tired Imperial Rome versus the naked Savages.

    Remember some of the historical epics of the 90’s, Last of the Mohicans, Braveheart, Rob Roy, etc. Why doesn’t someone try to revive that idea instead of having another tween sex comedy or parody thereof.

    1. Re:Seamus’s response:
      I think that’s because they want their films to sell, and Bad Guys vs. Good Guys (With Swords! And Possibly Explosions! And Definitely Nudity!) does better than Here’s a Film About Stuff You Don’t Know About, With Names You Can’t Pronounce. This has been paritcularly covered in Gideon Nisbet’s book when he writes about why films about ancient Greece don’t tend to work.

      Re: Mohicans, Braveheart etc – these were, at the heart, epics about one guy with a sword/cudgel/tomahawk (that would be the naked Savage character) against an army/government/government with an army (that would be Imperial Rome part). So these epics were made in the same vein as with the (latest) cinematic fascination with Classics, only made in a different political era (thus the change about who we have as anagonist).

      Saying that, I would love to see a tween sex comedy set in Imperial Rome. With swords. And possibly things exploding.

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