Skip to main content

Centre for Classical Reception

The Exeter Centre for Classical Reception was established in the summer of 2019 to acknowledge and build on the extraordinary expertise in the field of classical reception across various Humanities disciplines at Exeter. The Centre, under the joint directorship of Prof Rebecca Langlands (Classics) and Prof Henry Power (English), draws together over twenty scholars from the departments of Classics, English, Modern Languages, Art History and Visual Culture, Politics and History. The Centre aims to generate and support research which acknowledges that Classics is a global discipline and which promotes awareness of the diversity of the discipline - both in the range of approaches it enables and in its openness to ‘receptions’ of antiquity from all cultures and all backgrounds.

We are especially committed to supporting research which is public facing and engaged with contemporary issues. The study of classical reception requires conversations about pressing social and political concerns—conversations that can raise the profile of Classics both within and outside the academy, but which are also important in themselves. In the Exeter Centre for Classical Reception we believe that the field of Classical Reception has the potential not only to transform Classics into a more inclusive discipline, but also to be a beneficial political instrument with broader reach. One of the founding aims of the new centre is to make a positive difference; existing projects associated with the centre already pursue such aims in relation to gender, sexuality, contemporary politics, policy on land use, and conflict resolution.

At the University of Exeter we are also fortunate to have access to some important classical reception resources, including The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum and the archives of Ted Hughes, Leonard Baskin and William Golding in our Special Collections.

Claudette Colbert and Henry Wilcoxon in 'Cleopatra' (Paramount) (Courtesy of The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum) 


Current clusters of expertise include: 

  • Women writers & classical reception
  • Reception by French women in 15th-17th
  • Translation of Classical texts
  • Classical reception in the South West region
  • Reception of exempla and moral stories
  • Reception of Homeric poetry
  • Reception of Classics in the modern novel
  • Reception of classical art in the 18th-20th centuries
  • Decolonisation and classical reception


Please click the link below to listen to a podcast recorded by one of our members, BA Post-doc Researc Fellow Dr Caroline Spearing, on 17th century Latin verse anthologies that were published in Oxford and Cambridge to mark notable State occasions. Also taking part was Classics undergraduate Rosie Griggs, who has been helping with the project under the Humanities Research Student Internship scheme


This was recorded as part of the Godolphin and Latymer school's Ancient World Breakfast Club (for further information, please click here)

 Social Media



Classcis & Ancient History

Rachael Bundy       

PhD on receptions of Ovid’s Philomela myth in women writers of the 17th and 18th centuries
Katharine Earnshaw Reception of Virgil’s Georgics, esp. in 18th century, esp. within philosophy and agricultural policy, feeding into current UK land policy
Emily Hauser Contemporary women writers and reception; also a practitioner, writing novels drawing on Classical material 
Rebecca Langlands  Sexual knowledge, the history of sexuality and gender; the postclassical reception of Roman moral exempla, exemplary ethics and Valerius Maximus
Sharon Marshall Early Modern French literature (15th/16th centuries), female translators of Classical literature, translations and receptions of Aeneid; Helisenne de Crennes
Neville Morley

Marx in Antiquity, reception of Thucydides

Mathura Umachandran Classical reception studies in the twentieth century and contemporary world; critical theory especially Frankfurt School; queer theory; postcolonial and decolonial studies 
John Bolin  Working on various classically related projects, including J.M. Coetzee and the Aeneid.
Arabella Currie                                                                              William Golding’s reception of classics, working with archives at Exeter; translation and poetry, classics into poetry; the Irish reception of Classics; Celtic-classical crossovers
Meg Dyson PhD on Logue’s War Music, reception of the Iliad, translation
Abram Foley The Jamaican American poet, Mark McMorris and his engagement with classic poetry from a postcolonial point of view; Anne Carson.
Johanna Harris The reception of classical epistolarity (especially Ciceronian and Senecan)

Felicity Henderson

Narrative in early modern science and the way this is informed by classical poetics.

Kate Montague Reception of Greek tragedy in the modern/contemporary novel, moving into global literature esp. West Africa. Also interested in the politics of labour.

Nick McDowell

Milton & Euripides

Henry Power 17th and 18th century reception, Pope’s Homer, modern and contemporary poetry and novels
Caroline Spearing 17th century English Neo-Latin: Abraham Cowley’s Plantarum Libri Sex; university occasional verse. Ancient botany and gynaecology; panegyric; reception of Virgil, Horace, Ovid and Lucan.
Rob Turner Collaborative translation project (with Anne Carson, Stanley Lombardo, Frederick Ahl, and others), working to produce the first American/English verse translation of Nonnos’s Dionysiaca; African American responses to the classics, either through the lens of epic or more broadly (incorporating lyric and tragic texts).
Thomas Vozar Classical reception in the early modern period. PhD on Milton and the idea of the sublime, with reference to Longinus and other classical authors. seventeenth-century English translation of the Peri hypsous.
Freyja Cox Jensen   Translation; print editions of classical histories in early modern period; reception of Roman history, and classical reception and popular culture in early modern England 
Hester Schadee       

Renaissance Italy (14th/15th centuries); humanism; cultural and intellectual legacies, neo-Latin; Julius Caesar


Modern Languages & Cultures

Fiona Cox        

Reception of Virgil and Ovid in contemporary women’s writing                                                      

Muireann Maguire Reception in Russian literature
Helena Taylor 

Women’s writing, Early Modern France, 17th century, receptions of Ovid             

 Sveta Yefimenko PhD in classical reception in Russian literature; Tolstoy's reception of Homer


After Homer: Poetry, Fiction, Film

(Henry Power)  

The two epic poems attributed to Homer – the Iliad and Odyssey– are fundamental to the Western imagination. For centuries they have been at the centre of the literary canon, and have frequently been rewritten or reimagined by authors reflecting on various contemporary issues, including politics, empire, warfare, sexuality, and gender. This module will look at the many ways in which poets, novelists, and film-makers have responded to these poems. The texts studied will be drawn from roughly 1700 to the present day, though the emphasis will be on the literature and film of the past 50 years. No prior knowledge of classical literature is required.


Thucydides and the Idea of History

(Neville Morley)      

Thucydides was one of the first to write what we now call ‘history’; his work has in many ways defined the genre – not least because he aimed to establish his approach to understanding the past as a template for future generations. This module will explore different aspects of Thucydides’ historiography, from its methodological and critical principles to its narrative structure and rhetorical techniques, and consider how these have influenced modern conceptions. Thucydides has regularly been put forward as a model for contemporary historians and social scientists – but the way his work is understood has changed significantly over time.


The Reception of Greek Culture

(Dan King)

Does Greek still matter? Is this question relevant, and why do we ask it? Building on its sister module ‘The Impact of Greek Culture’ this module focuses primarily on the impact of Greek culture outside antiquity through the framework of reception studies. You will have the opportunity to examine how Greek culture has been used, represented, or engaged with at certain historical moments the west: these include but are not limited to the work of Erasmus, medieval and renaissance medicine, Shakespeare and English Drama, and Victorian culture (from body-building and the Olympic movement to Waterhouse); the liberation of Greece from Turkey, and the creation of the European Union. In terms of assessment, you will be given a high degree of freedom to determine your own research interests which are relevant to the course themes. While there are no co-requisites for this course, the CLA3256 Impact of Greek Culture precedes it nicely.


Women Writing Classics

(Emily Hauser) 

In this module we will study female writers’ receptions of the Classics and the issues which the study of (western) classicism introduces in terms of gender, identity, and canonicity. We will read some of the central modern receptions of the classical world by women writers, like Pat Barker’s Silence of the Girls and Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles. By the end of the class, you will be able to discuss the influence of ‘the Classics’ in the context of feminist and reception studies, and to articulate the complex ways in which women writers engage with the classical past.


Writing Women and Strange Monsters

(Fiona Cox)

This course examines the reasons for and ways in which French and Francophone women writers have engaged in rewritings and revisions of ancient myths and fairytales, producing new readings of these stories as they apply them to contemporary concerns. In particular, we shall look in detail at the new forms given to the myths of Medusa and Orpheus (especially in the light of their importance in psychology and psychiatry) and think about how we understand them differently once we have seen them applied to contemporary concerns.


Classical Reception: An Introduction

(Rebecca Langlands and Katharine Earnshaw)

Classical Reception Studies starts from the assumption that the past has meaning only in so far as it is “framed” – represented and discussed - in terms of the concerns of the present. Our modern understanding of the classical past has been shaped by centuries of appropriation and reinterpretation, loss and rediscovery. In turn, modern Western concepts such as “culture”, “civilisation” and concerns about, for example, national identity, political ideology, race and sexuality have been constituted and reconstituted with constant reference to ideas about and images of the Classical past. This module will examine different “framings” of many different aspects of the ancient world in post-classical cultures. You will explore both how these cultures have made use of the classical past and how they themselves have changed and shaped the way that the ancient world is understood both in academia and in popular culture.


Politics Ancient and Modern

(Neville Morley)

Human beings, according to Aristotle, are suited by nature to live in a polis; hence, understanding the dynamics of political systems is essential for understanding people. This attitude was widely shared in antiquity, and a wide range of sources offer different perspectives on the political life and attitudes of the Greeks and Romans. Later writers have questioned the absolute dominance of politics in human existence, but have nevertheless drawn extensively on ancient ideas to make sense of their own societies. This module allows you to explore not only the political structures and theories of antiquity, but also their influence on subsequent debates