CONF: Masks, Echoes, Shadows: Locating Classical Receptions in the Cinema: 29th May 2012

Seen on the Classicists list:

Masks, Echoes, Shadows: Locating Classical Receptions in the Cinema
29 May 2012
Institute of Classical Studies, London

Cinema’s fascination with the classical past can take many forms. In recent
years, scholarly and popular attention has mostly been directed at films
that recreate and reconstruct the narratives of ancient history and
mythology, such as Gladiator and Clash of the Titans. Alongside these
high-profile titles, though, are a wide range of other films whose
relationship to antiquity may be much more intangible and ephemeral. Whether
identifying Homeric references in O Brother, Where art Thou? or Mike Leigh’s
Naked, assessing Star Wars’ debt to Roman history, or examining the
recurrence of the Oedipus story in the cinema, there are a multitude of ways
in which shadows of the past can be detected, classical motifs can be masked and unmasked, and echoes of ancient texts or events can reverberate. Recent publications by scholars such as Martin Winkler and Simon Goldhill have advanced this area of classical reception studies, but the underlying theoretical issues require further attention. This one-day colloquium will bring together scholars and students of classics and film in order to
discuss new research in this area.


10.30-10.45 Introduction

Anastasia Bakogianni, ‘ Masked celluloid classics: ancient shadows in Theo Angelopoulos’ The Weeping Meadow (2004)’

Kristen Gunderson, ‘ A Lacanian reading of the Theseus myth in Inception ‘s mental labyrinth’

11.45-12.00 Refreshments

Ricardo Apostol, ‘ From Album Alitem to Black Swan : Horace and Aronofsky on Poetic Perfection and Death’

David Scourfield, ‘A Classical Lens for Eyes Wide Shut’

13.00-13.45 Lunch


Trevor Fear, ‘ Cleopatra in the 26 th century: the long reach of a
historical icon’

Tom Garvey, ‘Reaping the benefits of Serenity’

C. W. Marshall, ‘The Tragedy of Anakin Skywalker’

15.15-15.45 Refreshments

15.45-16.15 Sara Monoson, ‘Socrates Fortlow: An Urban Fable on Screen’

16.15-16.30 Final thoughts

Registration fee: £10 which includes a sandwich lunch and refreshments

To book a place or for more information please contact the organisers:
Anastasia Bakogianni, Open University a.bakogianni AT
and Joanna Paul, Open University Joanna.Paul AT

Improving Archaeological Journalism

Tip o’ the pileus to Kristina Kilgrove, who alerted us to a very interesting post in the Guardian: Nine ways scientists can help improve science journalism.

I reproduce the ‘meat’ article below, but encourage folks to read the original. In what follows, I’ve changed all instances of “science” to “archaeology” and “scientist” to “archaeologist” … and the advice is still really good! Here’s the salient bits:

Ways scientists can improve science archaeological journalism:
1. Watch what you release

In the balance between carefully reporting science archaeology and courting interest, we believe many press releases push the latter too far. We can help journalists by stating limitations and highlighting danger points in interpretation where an untrained eye might confuse correlation with causation, or absolute and relative risks.

Doing so requires us to place public understanding of science archaeology above our own vanity and pressure to achieve impact.
2. Reach out

For us this debate has highlighted the degree of separation between science archaeology and journalism, with neither world understanding in any detail the nature of the other. So let’s get to know each better and destroy the “ivory tower” myth.
3. Be there

How many of us ensure we know exactly when our press release will be made public and make time in our diaries for interviews? The reality is that if we are unavailable in the 48 hours following the press release then the ship may have sailed, or sunk. Science Archaeology may grow like a bristlecone pine but most news stories are mayflies.
4. Be prepared

Media training courses are important, but so is common sense. Key quotes can be prepared in advance of interviews. Advice from non-experts can help recognise and eliminate jargon.
5. Think big

We must accept that accuracy is relative. Scientists Archaeologists already know that their own peer-reviewed articles routinely include what other scientists archaeologists would regard as oversimplifications. Journalists need us to shift our mindset to the perspective of the layperson and question whether a particular detail or caveat is necessary to convey the broader importance of the work. For a vital caveat, be ready to explain clearly why it is part of the big picture.
6. Think blog

Blogs are often regarded as an alternative to PR and commercial media, but they may also be useful as extra resources for journalists. If a journalist doesn’t understand your press release or journal article and can’t get you on the phone, they could refer to your blog for detail and FAQs. As successful blogs show, this bridge can be highly valuable. We’ve tried this with an expanded version of the current article.
7. Make it public

Scientists Archaeologists face unrelenting pressure to publish in the most respected journals, placing much science behind paywalls.

The ethical concerns this raises, especially for publicly funded science archaeology , have been underlined at length (see for example here, here, and here).

We can post our articles on our websites but a coordinated move to open access publishing may require changes in government policy .
8. Watch your neighbourhood

When things go wrong, act. We must take the time to challenge misreporting of our own research and other work in our fields. Many scientists archaeologists are apathetic about misreporting, either laughing it off or resenting it – but then doing nothing about it. Equally important is to challenge pseudoscience or exaggerated claims in our own fields. Bad science archaeology has no better ally than silence from good scientists archaeologists.
9. Get the facts

Argument is no substitute for evidence. Most scientists archaeoloists are not experts in journalism studies, but that shouldn’t stop us from teaming up with the experts and doing research on how our area of science archaeology is represented in the media. We have just embarked on research in our own field to assess the accuracy of press releases and news stories, and the attitudes of scientists toward them. We would encourage more scientists archaeologists to do the same.

We might note in passing that #8 is especially important because the most sensational reports we seem to deal with purposely seem to be inverting the last line (i.e. putting vanity and pressure to achieve impact above (genuine) public understanding of archaeology) …

Useful Image Resource

Saw mention of the Imago database on the Classicists list and I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before. Here’s a bit from their ‘About’ page:

IMAGO was conceived in 2010 to commemorate the Roman Society’s centenary. It is intended to be used by students, teachers, lecturers and everyone interested in the archaeology, history and material culture of ancient Rome.

Photos are donated and available to use and share for educational and research purposes only, and downloadable images can be quickly saved or copied into presentation software such as PowerPoint.

Reviews from BMCR

  • 2012.03.13:  Konstantin Doulamis, Echoing Narratives: Studies of Intertextuality in Greek and Roman Prose Fiction. Ancient narrative Supplementum 13.
  • 2012.03.12:  Philip Thibodeau, Playing the Farmer: Representations of Rural Life in Vergil’s “Georgics”.
  • 2012.03.11:  Jennifer Ingleheart, Katharine Radice, Ovid: Amores III. A selection: 2, 4, 5, 14.
  • 2012.03.10:  Christopher Smith, Ralph Covino, Praise and Blame in Roman Republican Rhetoric.