Aldridge School Trip to the British Museum (Feb 2020)

On 24th Feb 2020 we were delighted to take 46 of our GCSE Ancient History students to attend the fantastic ACE revision day, ‘OCR #Classics in 20 British Museum objects’. which allowed them the opportunity to be guided through essential sources and contexts by experts in the field. The students were able to revise key content, as well as to gain a more sophisticated understanding of the prescribed sources, ultimately giving them a better opportunity of achieving the highest grades. The response from students (and colleagues!) about the event was overwhelmingly positive – they were delighted by the museum and the opportunity to study the source material in person.

Due to the CA’s generous donation we were able to cover the cost of the coach to and from London and, given that the ACE event was also free, this meant we were able to run the trip at £0 cost for the students attending. It was especially important that this trip allowed a high % of PP students to access the same kind of educational experiences as better-off peers in more prosperous parts of the country. I can safely say that without the support of the CA our visit to the British Museum would not have been anywhere near as successful – or potentially not have happened at all!

Introducing Classics in State Schools (March 2020)

On the 11th March 2020, the School of Classics at St Andrews, in collaboration with the Classical Association of Scotland and Advocating Classics Education, organised an event for secondary school teachers titled Introducing Classics in State Schools. The aim of the event was to bring together teachers who are thinking about introducing Classical subjects in their schools, and discuss the ways it can be achieved and the kinds of support that are available. Thirteen state schoolteachers from all over Scotland attended the event, alongside one retired and two public school teachers of Classics, two representatives of the SQA, and two Masters students from Divinity who are considering a teaching career after their degree.

The event began with a talk by Edith Hall representing ACE and explaining the support it offers to aspiring teachers of Classics in the UK. Three current state schoolteachers then talked about their experiences introducing Classics in their schools: Jennifer Shearer from Kirkcaldy High, Seb Sewell from Royal High in Edinburgh, and Lucy Angel from Mackie Academy in Stonehaven. A presentation by the leaders of the new PGDE in Latin / Latin and Classical Studies at Moray House in Edinburgh was followed by Alex Imrie representing the Classical Association of Scotland and Classics for All and outlining the support and resources available. The event was concluded with a lively roundtable discussion.

International online workshop ‘Towards a more inclusive Classics’ (June 2020)

Black Lives Matter and the effects of Covid-19, including the global economic recession, have intensified the need for us to address in greater depth the ways in which our discipline is not inclusive, and what can be done to change this. Because of lockdown, our planned workshop moved online, with a consequent huge increase in the number and affiliations of participants (160), and the countries represented (12).  Materials were precirculated, giving lots of time for discussion, including via ‘breakout groups’, which were much appreciated.  The recommendations emerging from the workshop include liaising with schools, which can be equally keen to ‘decolonise’ the Classics curriculum, and ensuring that institutions rather than individuals are responsible for the work involved.  Classical reception studies can be especially important in developing a critical eye towards the history of the discipline, which in turn lays foundations for the discipline’s successful future in a multicultural world.

Croft Academy: Bringing Classical Studies to Life (from September 2020)

Croft Academy provides a nurturing, happy and inclusive learning environment for 230 primary school children living in one of the 3% most deprived boroughs in the UK. We are passionate about giving our children the best opportunity to thrive, despite their challenging circumstances. We find that whilst many of our children may lack concentration during ‘traditional learning’ in the classroom, one thing that really captivates them is practical learning. When we are able to bring subjects ‘to life’, the enthusiasm and sense of wonder from our children is tangible.

Thanks to your support, we have been able to bring the Classics to life by producing two ‘museums in a box’ – comprising a selection of Greek and Roman artefacts including: armour, shields, coins and jewellery, to spark imagination and guide our children’s learning for years to come. The resources will be a key part of our annual Greek and Roman days, going forwards. Once COVID restrictions allow, we plan to run a Classics assembly for the whole school, where our Year 4 pupils can inspire the other year groups with all the wonderful resources, and filter their learning to our younger pupils.

What Have The Classics Ever Done For Me? (Jan 2021)

What Have The Classics Ever Done For Me? is a short video produced by Communicator Limited and sponsored by the Classical Association, the Cambridge School Classics Project, and the Roman and Hellenic societies. It is aimed at anyone concerned that Classics-related subjects are of limited value in terms of a career.

To counter this, six well-rounded and successful individuals from the City, computer-gaming, overseas development, journalism and library engagement, were invited to speak about how studying Classics at different levels has not only benefited them throughout their careers, but it has also enabled them to have more fulfilling lives as a result.

You can watch the video here, and a subtitled version is available here.

As a result of the original video What Have The Classics Ever Done For Me? Communicator Limited decided to produce another video featuring Dr Mai Musié. In this second video, which is aimed at BAME communities, Mai talks about her journey into Classics and what it has meant for her on a personal level.

You can watch Mai’s Classics Story here, and a subtitled version is available here.

(Music: River Blues by TrackTribe).

AMPAH (March 2021)

AMPAH (Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient History) is an event that provides postgraduates with the opportunity to gain experience presenting their work and network with peers. This year, AMPAH expanded from the traditional 1 day format, and the conference was held via Zoom on Thursday 18th and Friday 19th March.

We welcomed over 50 attendees, including 27 speakers from the UK, the rest of Europe and Africa.

This year we also had two keynote addresses from University of Exeter academics:

Professor Richard Flower, “Uncertain Causes, or What To Do When A Senator Throws His Wife Out Of The Window”

Dr Emma Nicholson, “Cracking the Code of A Changing World – Polybius’ Guide to Leadership and Adaptation”

‘Women Creating Classics’ (June 2021)

On June 17th–18th Dr. Emily Hauser and Dr. Helena Taylor (both University of Exeter) were delighted to hold an online conference, “Women Creating Classics”, a creative and critical exploration of women’s classical reception. We brought together practitioners (novelists, poets, writers) and academics working on women’s classical reception across time periods and cultures to explore questions of creative/critical practice and women’s* voices in the history of Classics and reception studies.

Highlights included keynotes by award-winning novelist, Madeline Miller, and critic/activist, Donna Zuckerberg. We also heard readings and reflections by acclaimed poets and writers, Vahni Capildeo, Clare Pollard, Fiona Benson, Daisy Dunn and Caroline Lawrence, and panels on topics including creative intellectuals and poets from the Renaissance to the 20th century, a roundtable on creative/critical practice, and a workshop on early modern exemplarity. It was a fantastic, stimulating two days: comments from participants included that it was “an important and game-changing event”.

(*Our understanding of women writers includes all those who self-define as women, including (if they wish) those with complex gender identities which include ‘woman’. Definition adapted from The Women’s Classical Committee

AMPAL 2020-2021 (June 2021)

The 15th Annual Meeting of Postgraduate in Ancient Literature (AMPAL)2020-2021 was held by the Department of Classics at the University of Reading online via MS Teams from 17th to 19th June 2021. Postgraduates from across the world discussed various literary representations of this year’s theme (Fear in Ancient Culture). Presentations covered a wide variety of topics of Greek, Roman, and Sanskrit literatures. AMPAL2020-2021 was the first online extended AMPAL bringing together speakers from both AMPAL 2020 and AMPAL 2021.

AMPAL2020-2021 hosted a virtual tour of the Ure Museum by Professor Amy Smith and a thematic exhibition (‘Fear Beyond Words’) curated by two undergraduates of Reading Classics.  

AMPAL2020-2021 Keynote Speech (Fear of Revenge in Euripidean Tragedy) by Professor Fiona McHardy (Roehampton University) unravelled the dynamics of fear associated with children in Euripidean tragedies set within their literary and social contexts. AMPAL participants, academics, and friends of AMPAL attended this open lecture.

Department of Classics, University of Reading. @AMPAL2020_2021 #FearAMPAL2021

BSR Postgraduate Course in Epigraphy (July 2021)

The 2021 BSR Postgraduate Course in Epigraphy (July 12th-21st), a 10 day immersive course based at the British School at Rome, was a remarkable success this year, despite adversities imposed both by Brexit and a global pandemic.  We were only able to host six students, who came from a broad range of nationalities and institutions, and the course had a number of constraints in terms of site visits: some smaller sites were closed to visitors, and speakers were unable to visit at the BSR or on site in museums.  We responded as best we could with some virtual talks and a few private tours.  Profssa. Carlotta Caruso welcomed us at the Museo Nazionale Romano delle Terme when it was closed, offering a tour of the collections and hosting a drawing session in the courtyard. Profssa. Silvia Orlandi invited us to La Sapienza University, where she gave a tutorial in the CIL Archives, whilst her colleague Prof. Francesco Camia gave us a tour of his new epigraphic cast collection. We were also granted entry to the Vatican’s Galleria Lapidaria. In addition to evening papers by the coordinator, Dr. Abigail  Graham (University of London, Institute for Classical Studies) and our annual on-site squeeze & rubbing workshops at the BSR, we had a virtual carving workshop and live demonstration with Wayne Hart, a professional letter cutter.

We are very grateful for the Classical Association and its continued generosity with student bursaries. Participants of course benefitted greatly, collaborating in ongoing research projects and forging lasting relationships with an excellent group of international postgraduates and scholars.

The Latin Programme Online Summer School (August 2021)

The Latin Programme Online Summer School 2021 saw over 100 participants come together via YouTube Live and Zoom to learn about ‘natura’ in the ancient world. Over the course of five days, The Latin Programme and a troop of facilitators including Caroline Lawrence and Scratchworks Theatre delivered a daily YouTube Live session available to all, followed by two 50-minute Zoom sessions .Through dance, drama, music, creative writing, and debate and discussion, Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils from across the country were given the opportunity to explore flora and fauna in ancient myth, nature in epic, ancient astrology, mystical forests in opera, and animals in Aesop’s fables.

Acting the Ancient World: ‘The Agon in Action’ (from September 2021)

‘Acting the Ancient World’ is designed to support the classroom teaching of AS/A Level Classical Civilisation. In each film, a short academic introduction is followed by footage of student actors working through a sequence of accessible drama exercises designed to showcase key skills required to understand and interpret Greek tragedy. The actors move from analysing the text on the page to exploring its effects in performance. The plays examined in the series correspond to those prescribed within the OCR syllabus: Oedipus the King and Bacchae

The third film in the series, ‘The Agon in Action’, introduces a sequence of accessible drama exercises using text from Oedipus the King. It can be accessed via this link:

Charlotte Patterson and Caitlin Waugh in ‘The Agon in Action’

copyright: Stephe Harrop, 2021