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Study information

Classical Reception: An Introduction

Module titleClassical Reception: An Introduction
Module codeCLAM078
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Professor Rebecca Langlands (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

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.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to:

  • Introduce you to the field of Classical Reception Studies and to the theoretical models that underpin it
  • Develop your understanding of Classical Reception Studies through the exploration of a series of indicative case studies from across post-classical cultures
  • Expand knowledge and understanding of the ways in which interpretation, representation, appropriation, translation, reconstruction, and/or revision of Greek and Roman antiquity have shaped our understanding of the past

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate knowledge of a selection of relevant primary material from the middle ages to the present day
  • 2. Describe and analyse the way that any treatment of antiquity, including scholarship, reflects the concerns of its age
  • 3. Demonstrate awareness of how ancient material can be used to articulate and negotiate modern issues
  • 4. Understand the role that classical reception can play in opening up interpretations for readers in different contexts (e.g. gender, ethnicity, social background, etc.)

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Demonstrate sophisticated critical and analytical skills which can be applied to a wider range of textual and other evidence from ancient and modern contexts

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Demonstrate awareness of historical and cultural differences, and an ability to interpret the ideas and assumptions of unfamiliar societies
  • 7. Demonstrate sophisticated skills in independent research and the development of research questions, and in the construction, organisation and presentation of interpretations and arguments, both written and verbal
  • 8. Demonstrate the ability to work as part of a group, and to engage constructively in debate and discussion

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned it will cover the following topics:

The module will begin by introducing the field of Classical Reception Studies, discussing what kinds of subjects are studied in this field, the theoretical models that underpin it, and how it differs from the study of the Classical Tradition.

Subsequent weeks will focus on a series of case studies presenting different “framings” of different aspects of the ancient world in post-classical cultures. These may include subjects such as:

  • Medieval and renaissance debates about women (e.g. Christine de Pisan, Lucrezia Marinella)
  • 18th century reception of Roman poetry and its political significance
  • Philhellenism & the Greek wars of independence
  • The rise of fascism
  • The birth of archaeology
  • The politics of museums
  • The invention of pornography
  • The Grand Tour and the development of the tourist industry
  • European nationalism
  • The formation of the USA
  • The emergence of sexuality
  • Changing ideologies of sport and developments in formal education
  • Reception of classics in film, theatre and literature
  • Modern re-stagings of Greek tragedy

You will have the opportunity to work with the Bill Douglas Centre on their film archives and with local museums, where appropriate.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching15Intensive seminar and reading group activity
Guided Independent Study135Students working independently and in groups preparing for seminars and essays

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Intensive seminar and reading group activityIn class1-8Oral feedback in class from lecturer and peers

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan10c. 750 words1-7Written comments on essay plan; individual tutorial meetings with one of the module lecturers
Essay704000 words1-7Mark; written and oral comments
Oral presentation (individual)2020 minutes + 10 minutes discussion1-8Mark; written and oral comments

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay planEssay plan1-7Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay1-7Referral/deferral period
Oral presentation (individual)Oral presentation1-8Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Mary Beard and John Henderson, Classics: A very short introduction. Oxford, 1995.
  • Shane Butler (ed.) Deep Classics: Rethinking Classical Reception. Bloomsbury, 2016.
  • Lorna Hardwick, Reception Studies. Oxford, 2003.
  • Lorna Hardwick and Christopher Stray (edd.) A Companion to Classical Receptions. Oxford, 2008.
  • Fiona Macintosh and Justine McConnell, Performing Epic or Telling Tales. Oxford, 2020.
  • Charles A. Martindale and Richard F. Thomas (eds.) Classics and the Uses of Reception. Oxford, 2006.
  • Edmund Richardson (ed.) Classics in Extremis: The Edges of Classical Reception. Bloomsbury, 2018.
  • Donna Zuckerberg, Not all Dead White Men, Harvard University Press, 2018
  • Pharos: doing justice to the Classics

Key words search

Classics, Reception Studies

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


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Last revision date